Young Life bringing teens closer to Jesus

Published 10:53 am Thursday, October 29, 2015

Guests were welcomed to a nautical décor within the doors of Calvary Baptist Church West campus last Tuesday, Oct. 20 for the annual fundraiser banquet for Davie County Young Life (DCYL).

The theme was “Living Life Anchored.” The evening illuminated how DCYL can help to anchor teenagers during turbulent years by helping them consider a relationship with Jesus.

More than 250 adults from all over the county were gathered to learn about Young Life and to have an opportunity to support the ministry. A meal was served  to begin the evening.

Justin Hepler, area director for Davie County Young Life, shared the vision of DCYL as the desire to do whatever it takes to get every teen in Davie County face to face with Jesus, so each might have the opportunity to know Him.

Young Life leaders learn their names, listen to their stories and help to quench their God-given desire for a life of fun, adventure and purpose. Young Life leaders communicate that each person has worth, meaning and purpose regardless of what the teen may believe about his or herself.

One of the future goals for DCYL is to expand into the middle schools with an extension ministry called WyldLife.

Middle school is a time when kids make important decisions about who they are and what they believe, Hepler said. He  asked guests to imagine how caring adults could influence a student’s life starting in middle school and continuing into high school by modeling and expressing God’s love through real relationship.

When Young Life leaders get involved in a kid’s life, they are there for the long haul, he said. Many kids end up having lifelong friendships with their Young Life leader.     

An example of this lifelong friendship with a Young Life leader was right in front of the eyes of the banquet guests.

The speaker was Matt Sloan, Young Life Area Director from Buncombe County. Sloan was Hepler’s leader in high school, and they remain close friends.  Sloan  reminded the audience what it feels like facing failure and the insecurities that can follow.He put guests in the place of a high schooler experiencing this with no one to turn to for help. He encouraged everyone in attendance to help support the ministry.

Young Life Club meets weekly at the YMCA in Mocksville on Tuesday nights at 7:32. Club is a time for the kids to cultivate friendships, have a safe place of belonging, and hear the Gospel of Jesus Christ. All of this happens while these kids are having fun.

“It is a party with a purpose,” Hepler said.

“I love being able to worship and hang out with my friends at the same time,” said Davie High freshman, Braxton Folmar, who is involved with Young Life.

DCYL Club hosts 80 kids each week.

A weekly Bible study called Campaigners meets in the band room at Davie High School on Thursday mornings at 7:17. On Oct. 9-11, a total of 64 high schoolers and leaders traveled to Rockbridge Young Life Camp in Virginia for fall camp.

Hepler expressed his excitement in the growth of Young Life in Davie County. “This doubled the number of any trip we have taken before. The weather was great and all of our friends had the best weekend of their life.”

All DCYL activities are open to all high school age kids in the county.

Those in attendance saw clearly that Young Life changes lives in a lasting way. Jala Bogard, a junior at Davie High, shared in her testimony that the DCYL leaders helped to guide her through a difficult time during her sophomore year. She expressed how she felt understood and loved by the leaders and that participating in Young Life events have been life changing.

Phil Kelley, one of DCYL’s Committee members and president of Salem One Printing, began the evening’s request for support by stating that 30 years ago he was the student speaker at the Forsyth County Young Life banquet. God used Young Life to change his life.

“Since then, that change in my heart has impacted my life daily,” he stated. Bob Smith, DCYL committee chair, shared a fun story of the lifelong impact Young Life has had on him. He met his wife Jen Smith, also on the committee, at a Young Life banquet in Maryland 20 years ago.

The 2015 annual banquet for DCYL was a success in raising almost $90,000. Due to 15 generous sponsors covering banquet expense, 100 percent of funds raised will go directly to the annual budget.

More importantly, great interest was generated from guests to become active on the adult committee and as leaders or helpers in other areas of the ministry. If interested in learning more about Young Life, becoming involved, or would like to donate, go to or contact Hepler at 828-713-8453.