(Photo provided) The Youth for Christ City Life teen center in Le Mars offers teens a place to talk and share what’s going on in their lives. Meals are served twice a week and children can even have their hair cut.
LE MARS — Over the past two months, Le Mars Youth For Christ has held a series of “See the Story” presentations to let people know what the program is all about.
On Monday, November 14, they will host a “Be the Story” event, where attendees can learn how to partner with Youth For Christ to make a difference in the lives of young people in the community with the hope of Jesus.
The event will be held at the Mars Senior Center and will meet from 6-7 p.m.
During this hour-long program, guests will learn about the organization through inspiring stories of staff, volunteers and the lives of children who have been touched by the Youth for Christ mission while enjoying a free dinner.
At this next-step event, guests will have the opportunity to partner with YFC in its mission to reach lost youth in the community with the hope of Jesus.
During See the Story events, Grace Nordquist, Community Engagement Coordinator; Karl Van Cura, executive director of Youth for Christ; Jim Rahn, Plymouth County Regional Manager; Roxie Rahn, City Life Director for Plymouth County; and Abraham Curiel, Director of Campus Life for Plymouth County, shared stories of the young people they came to the center and found a spiritual connection that helped them in their daily lives.
Van Cura has been the executive director for 10 years.
“At Youth for Christ, we pursue many troubled young people in their pivotal moments and share the hope of Jesus with them,” he said.
His story was of a young man growing up, going to church every week with his parents and sister.
“As teenagers, they always live one step away from making a bad decision,” he said.
At a pivotal moment at age 15, the boy’s life changes as a young adult comes into his life and shares Jesus with him.
“I share this story because it is my story. I have a lot of empathy for a lot of these kids that we work with because I was one of those teenagers. I was about to go to juvenile detention, like some of the kids we interact with,” Van Cura said. “About 10 years ago God called me to leave the landscaping business to stand up for these children, and let me tell you, I have never been so excited in these last 10 years of do what we do.”
“What motivates me is to hear the stories of these employees and volunteers, or of a child who has decided to change his life. It usually involves meeting Christ for the first time, and when they do, it’s so cool to see how their lives change. And that’s because an adult leader of some kind has been involved in their lives. And share the good news of Christ with others,” he said.
Youth for Christ, he said, exists to reach every spiritually lost child, and through what she calls authentic sharing relationships with Christ. It is between the adult leader and the child.
“So our mission is to reach spiritually lost children with the local church and other like-minded people, to lead them to become disciples of Christ. And that’s a journey. It’s not happening like that. But that’s why these guys are here, to build relationships,” he said.
Since 1944, YFC has grown into an international movement, with 140 chapters across the United States.
Siouxland YFC, which has been in the area since 1978, began in Sioux City and evolved into Le Mars, Hawarden and Woodbury County Juvenile Detention Center.
“We now have 15 ministry sites, 19 paid staff and over 100 volunteers,” he said.
Jim Rahn shared that he gave his life to Christ when he was 21.
“I immediately felt the call to ministry with young people. I have been with Youth for Christ for 23 years,” he said. “The main reason I’m here is that we want to reach lost children.”
He pointed to the three rings in the logo and said, “The three rings represent three stories: my story, God’s story, and the child’s story.”
“The goal is to build relationships with children and get them more and more interested in our story and what God is doing in our lives and how we can integrate God into their lives, introduce them to Christ and involve them in a local church. It is our reason for being. I love the idea of reaching lost children,” he continued.
Jim said he has learned over the years more and more that children are spiritually interested and want to have conversations about spiritual things.
Abe Curiel works with the Campus Life program and meets at Le Mars Community College on Wednesday mornings.
“I also go there on Tuesday afternoons for lunch and connect with the kids. I meet new students, I ask random questions, I get to know them,” he said. “Wednesday morning is free donuts, 10 to 12 dozen. We have over 100 every Wednesday and are working on Bible-based lessons. »
New this year is a high school ministry, which meets at the Teen Center from 8 to 9 p.m. on Sundays.
Roxie Rahn said she wanted Le Mars City Life teen center to be a safe place for children.
“We have a clothes closet downstairs, offer free haircuts, serve meals twice a week, Tuesday and Thursday nights, and we have a small group ministry, boys and girls, where we teach them things like basic car maintenance, cooking,” she explained. . “We also have the Economist Program, underwritten by United Way, an online virtual account.”
Along with the clothes closet, the center offers backpacks full of school supplies every fall.
“Every winter we provide new coats, hats, mittens and gloves for the kids,” she said. “Children help our volunteers keep inventory.”
Roxie said she has learned a lot during her time with Siouxland Youth for Christ, even more over the past two years.
“I learned more about trauma and the role it plays in children’s lives. I actually became a certified trauma trainer,” she said. “I am just amazed at the resilience of our children, they go through so much and yet they still fight so hard to survive. I love our children, I have learned so much from them. Often they are my hero.
Jim said the target group was children between the ages of 11 and 19, with all, if not most, middle and high school students.
“We work with as many partners, ministries and churches as possible to reach these children, because our desire is to reach the nominal children who are not reached by the church and who are not invested, and then connect them ultimately with Christ, but also with youth groups in churches,” he said. “Sometimes it doesn’t necessarily happen that way, sometimes a child doesn’t know Christ, but he interested in going to a local youth group or church, and that’s what’s so critical about the volunteers we have.
“Whenever a child is interested in going to a local church, it’s because they have a relationship with a volunteer who goes to a local church and that’s usually where they end up going to church. ‘church,” he said.
He admits that it is difficult to find volunteers, because churches also need their volunteers, so Youth for Christ appreciates everyone who comes forward to work with young people.
“I’m not going to lie to you, it’s not easy. There is a lot of sorrow, a lot of tears. For example, we had a volunteer meeting last night, we try to have one a month and get everyone together. We always tell children’s stories and pray for children, and there are also many tears that flow because there are so many hurts and so many children who are alone, scared and abused, no matter, what. they shed a lot of tears these children. When we talk about the rewards in children’s lives, they happen, but there are so many kids out there who are just lost and hurt and scared,” Jim said.
Reservations to attend the November 14 meeting can be made by scanning the QR code below.