Young Life thankful for support, funding
By By Adam Prestridge
Without community support Atmore Young Life would be nonexistent.
Fortunately, for the past 14 months since its inception, the ministry, which targets teenagers, has been well received by the community.
Young Life Area Director Chad Green said community support ranging from business leaders to other not-for-profit organizations is crucial.
"Our budget is completely funded through the community," Green said. "It's very encouraging for the community to support us. When the money stops coming in Young Life will have to leave town. We don't have a corporate office that if the money runs out, they bail us out."
One of those organizations contributing to Young Life is the Atmore United Fund, which has committed to helping fund ministry through the donations it receives from various businesses and organizations.
Green said the funds received from United Fund would be put to good use.
"We were really excited to receive the funds," Green said. "Every dollar counts. United Fund gave a generous gift and we are very appreciative and thankful."
Young Life began in 1941 when Jim Rayburn, an assistant youth pastor in Gainesville, Texas, was commissioned to reach the high school students who weren't attending church, according to program literature. Not knowing how to reach the teenagers, Rayburn went to the local high school to meet the students where he learned that going where they were and "loving them first" was the way to "earn the right to be heard" sharing the message of Christ.
Since Green and his wife, Sarah, moved to Atmore in June 2005, Young Life has taken off. In April, the Atmore Young Life opened a facility at 110 S. Pensacola Ave., a place where the teenagers in Atmore can hang out and be themselves.
"I think initially it's something for kids to do, another avenue to choose from to fill their time with as well as having the opportunity to have good adult involvement in their life," Green said.
Green said there have been about 100 active Young Life teenagers in the past year. He said the teens have been very receptive to the ministry.
"We've had nothing but encouraging word," Green said. "They seem to have a lot of fun, laugh and continually come back, which to me shows that they enjoy the time they have here. Our numbers grew over the year, we added more kids to camp this year and all the kids that went to camp with us had a great time."
As a part of Young Life, teens have an opportunity to meet Jesus Christ and follow him in an environment they are comfortable in.
Atmore Young Life will begin a club night beginning on Sept. 25 at 7:30 p.m. During club the teens will sing, play games, perform skits, laugh and fellowship.
"It's a fun platform for the gospel," Green said. "Kids come and we don't preach to them, we sing songs that they know that are on the radio, it's not geared toward youth group kids, but kids that wouldn't go to church. It's a fun event."
Green believes Atmore Young Life's opportunities are endless with continued support from the community.
"I think being here and the longer we are here, the longer we have to get the word out," Green said. "We also need volunteer support because Sarah and myself can only do so much. We have three volunteer leaders now and we would like to start a middle school ministry, but to get that started we would need more volunteers. It doesn't cost us more financially, it's just something we need manpower for."
The couple, which is expecting a baby girl, Harper, in two weeks, entertained guests Thursday night during an Atmore Chamber of Commerce Business After Hours. Guests were treated to hors'derves, information about Young Life, a tour of the new facility and fellowship.
"I thought it was great," Green said. "I always enjoyed good food and fellowship."