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YoungLife marks 10 years in Statesboro
Ministry aims to help 'lost' high schoolers
YoungLife marks 10 years in Statesboro
Statesboro YoungLife celebrated 10 years in Statesboro at a recent fundraising banquet held at Pittman Park United Methodist Church. Student volunteers served banquet attendees and presented a program similar to one that the high school students might take part in at Club meetings or summer camp. - photo by Special

When Statesboro YoungLife hosted its annual fundraising banquet at Pittman Park United Methodist Church, the organization did more than discuss the past year's events and talk about funds needed for the upcoming year. The Christian ministry celebrated a decade of presence in Statesboro.

"It's hard to believe that 10 years ago, a group of community members came together and dedicated ourselves to bringing YoungLife to Statesboro," said founding committee member and former Committee Chair Alice Mathews. "Those early years were tough, because no one around here really knew or understood what YoungLife was about."

JJ Puccio, the current YoungLife committee chair, said the international, relationship-based ministry reaches lost and hurting high schoolers in the community. 

YoungLife focuses on getting unchurched kids involved while welcoming churched kids, also. 

As Mathews stated in a YoungLife newsletter, "With much prayer, a lot of meetings, knocking on doors and raising start-up funds, YoungLife Statesboro was born. What began as a pure labor of love for our Savior and a passion for teens to hear the Good News has now turned into a ministry that has become part of the fabric of three local schools." 

High school students meet weekly, on Monday nights, for "Club" and play games, do skits, sing praise songs and other familiar tunes and hear a Bible message from one of the volunteer YoungLife college leaders. The kids also take part in Bible study and many attend camp during the summer.

Bulloch Academy graduate and Georgia Southern University senior accounting major Reed Salter shared his YoungLife experience during the banquet and said, "I had a great childhood, but my view of God was a 'distant being' and was about whether I was 'good' or not. 

"My life before Jesus can be described in one word: timid. After becoming involved in YoungLife, I had the understanding that the Gospel wasn't about me being good enough, but about Jesus dying on the cross to save me, and everything about my life changed."

Salter serves as a YoungLife leader at Southeast Bulloch High School and will serve on the YoungLife staff next year. 

"I'll have a front-row seat to watch God change people's hearts through this ministry," he said.

After being served by YoungLife high schoolers and college leaders, banquet attendees were treated to music and a skit, similar to what the YoungLife students take part in during Club or summer camp. 

With a decade under their belt, the organization averages more than 100 kids weekly at Club meetings, with a large number of those participating in weekly small-group Bible studies and summer camp.  

"In 10 short years, lives have been changed, and our community has changed because of YoungLife," Mathews said.

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