The fact that you’re reading this means one thing: I’ve lost my battle.
What battle? …This battle:
“I will never, ever go on Young Life staff again.”
I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sworn those words. And not because I dislike Young Life. The truth is- I love it. It’s been a huge part of my adult life. But for the last 12 years I would have confidently report that God would never (ever) call me back on the payroll.
“Fine. The only way I’d even consider being on Young Life staff is if I could serve homeless kids- and while Young Life does really amazing things for teens, that’s not one of them.”
Like I mentioned in a post last week, over a year ago I heard God speak something to me- He was calling me to more. I didn’t know what it was then, but I promised to look and to listen to where He might be leading me. In April I gave away half my belongings, moved out of my apartment and started saving money to move. I didn’t know where, and in all honesty didn’t really want to move per se; but I knew, just knew God was calling me somewhere I’d yet to discover.
In May I got a message from Josh. “If you’d consider moving, I have a job for you.”
“Are you still working for Young Life?”
“Are you still in San Diego?”
“Awesome! But no thank you.”
That was it for months. Radio silence, as I was sure this wasn’t what God was telling me to pursue. (Or what I wanted.)
By July I could no longer ignore the voice telling me I needed to follow-up with him.
Side note: Can we take a moment to talk about that voice? She can be downright annoying and pushy- am I right? Good grief. Anyway…
So from a crackly landline (turns out, those still exist) at Woodleaf I made the call. Two hours and miles of pacing later we’d come up with some semblance of a plan: let’s start Young Life for homeless kids in San Diego.
“Are we really gonna do this?” I asked.
“Yes! We’ve gotta try!”
“But this is really terrifying.”
When I first began leading Young Life I did so because my high school self was a mess, to put it mildly. Adolescence was so hard for me; I struggled with insurmountable insecurity, leading me to many frightening choices, one being a substance addiction. Looking back I can honestly say the two things that saved my life were my support system and seeing the evidence of how much God loved me.
I don’t want to imagine where my life would be without either of those things.
And yet, there are thousands of kids lacking both a support system and an understanding of how loved they are by our Creator, while also navigating life on the streets.
As a believer in Jesus’ call to love the “least of these” I can’t sit with these statistics without doing everything in my power to make a dent in them.
At present time there are two schools serving the homeless teenage population, with over 20,000 homeless youth in San Diego County. This is where we’re planning to start; by partnering with both schools to build relationships with the students and staff- and in that learn the needs of the community. (Honestly, I want Young Life to reach every single homeless teenager in the county, schooled or not, but know feasibly that we need to take it one step a time. Slow down, Rachel, SLOW DOWN.) I want to take what I’ve learned the past 10 years serving the homeless population in Los Angeles, marry that with the 8 years I was a Young Life leader, build a team, make a plan, cultivate relationships with kids, and connect with service providers.
Young Life has never done this before and I am excited, nervous, aaaand also sort of feel like a deer in the headlights. Leaving will be hard, but staying would be impossible- God has done too much to make it clear that this is where he’s steering me.
I long to see Young Life as a support system that these teenagers may not otherwise have.
It’s a bit wild, a bit nuts, and will probably be a bit messy, but I can’t shake this calling. (No matter how hard I’ve tried.)
Oh…also, Did I mention I’m terrified? T-E-R-R-I-F-I-E-D.
Most nights my prayers have gone something like this:
“But God, what if we can’t get enough funding?” (Huge worry- like HUGE.)
“What if the kids hate us/me?”
“What if we fail? I just quit my job and plan to uproot my life to make this happen, it can’t fail. Please God, don’t let it fail!”
Trust me, Rachel.
“Uggggh, okay fine God, but this is really scaring me so just keep that in mind, okay?”
So here is why you are reading this (Hopefully you’re still reading this.): I NEED YOU.
Like, for reals need you.
First, I need you to pray. Go ahead, right now. I’ll wait………..(Stop it. Stop reading! I said pray! C’mon!)
Are you finished?
Great. Thank you for that.
Second, I need any and everyone who knows how to fundraise to raise your hand and give me a freaking clue. To put it mildly, fundraising is not my gift. Money freaks me out and I have very little idea how people do this- so anyone who has a semblance of how this might work effectively, holler at a sister.
We need to raise a minimum of $40,000 just to get this thing off the ground. While some people have told me this number is doable, in my mind you might as well tell me I need to raise 1 trillion- so please, don’t be shy. Helllllp! S.O.S.!
Third, if you yourself would like to be a donor, you can do so HERE. There are a couple things I can promise you if you choose this option: I will more than likely cry a tear for each dollar you donate and I will keep you updated as much as you’d like on our progress, stories, etc. I’d like to make every effort possible to make this a team initiative, even if only virtually.
SO. Next (awkward) steps.
If you fall into any of the 3 previously mentioned categories and feel called, compelled, or guilted (did I mention it’s my birthday tomorrow) into joining this new ambitious, team of pioneers who want to break ground for Young Life in reaching homeless teenagers- I’d love your commitment to pray, to advise, or to donate.
AND. I’m going to ask you to do so boldly. I’m going to ask that you please share this with someone (social media is great, as is email, phone calls and carrier pigeons- I’m not picky). Public declarations are powerful- and I need a snowball of champions willing to take this calling on with me.
Need more info before you can get behind this plan? Awesome, I happy to chat further about what this might look like, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org
And know that even if you only read this whole letter, I’m deeply thankful for your attention and your critical place in my life. You are my friends, not my bottom line so even if all the resources you can give right now are the minutes you took to read and learn about what’s next in my life, I value you far more than I can express on this page.
So much love,
In case you missed the donation link in the sea hyperlinks above, here it is again riiiight HERRRRE.