Young Life’s mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith.

Young Life started in 1939 as a book club in Texas and emerged in 1941 as a nondenominational ministry devoted to sharing the gospel with teens on ‘their turf.’ It meets in homes and community centers like the YMCA, which act as neutral territories rather than taking place in a church building.

Sometimes, teens or their families have had an unfortunate experience at a church gathering or are fearful to enter a church building. Young Life bridges that gap by introducing teens to Jesus and helping them grow in their faith.

“Young Life isn’t meant to take the place of a church gathering but is a safe and comfortable, fun and energetic way for someone to be introduced to the gospel or reintroduced to what it means to be living for Christ,” explained Greg Rusch, the Brandon/FishHawk area leader. “The hope is to eventually get them connected to a ministry.”

Today, this multifaceted Christian ministry is present in all 50 states and 90 countries. The international ministry has added groups for middle school, high school, college-age, special needs students, military teens and a camp.

Since 2013, Rusch has been involved with the Brandon/FishHawk Young Life group. The local group meets weekly on Monday evenings at 8 p.m. High school students attend ‘club’ gatherings at the Campo YMCA in Valrico and ‘campaigners’ gatherings in local homes. The Young Life group alternates every week between the two locations.

Club nights at Campo YMCA are high energy gatherings with music, games and a short Bible message. The campaigners meeting is an evening comparable to a church’s small group and focuses on teaching, prayer and sharing. High school students may attend any time throughout the year. Besides gatherings on Mondays, the group participates in community events, fun social outings and summer camp.

“There are kids who are fully involved in their faith; some that are questioning it; some who have only gone to church with their parents on Christmas and Easter; and others who have never heard anything about Jesus,” explained Rusch. “The tagline for Young Life is they exist to reach the furthest out kid.”

Volunteer leaders are needed. If you are interested, you can contact Greg Rusch at 695-6938 or greg@mygraceumc.com. Background screening and training are required. More information on Facebook at younglife.fishhawk, Instagram at brandonarea_yl or Snapchat at brandonareayl.