YFC members during a recent gathering at an El Paso park. | Photo courtesy YFC El Paso/Facebook
As they celebrate 75 years, organizers and volunteers with Youth For Christ El Paso continue their mission to reach young people everywhere, working together with local churches and other likeminded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus.
From the beginning, YFC officials share that area youth are at the heart and soul of this ministry – and that devotion continues today – even during the pandemic.
“COVID has brought a lot of changes for how we do ministry,” said Michael Anderson, YFC El Paso executive director. “But our heart has always been connected with the teens; we reach out to them in every way that we can these days. We’ve hosted virtual clubs, virtual gatherings – even virtual game nights.”
At a time when many have not been able to connect in person, YFC El Paso has continued its service to their local community. “Last summer, we partnered with another ministry and held a food drive where we were able to assist over a hundred families,” said Anderson. “Then at Christmas time we hosted a toy drive, where we were able to give over 200 families toys for Christmas.”
In addition to the special food and toy drive events, YFC El Paso also has a Juvenile Justice Ministry (JJM) that mentors youth in the Juvenile Detention Center in El Paso.
With their dedication and their works, YFC El Paso sees the value and the impact of reaching the local community. “For us, at the heart of it, is the youth we serve – as well as their families,” explained Anderson. “We want to hear their stories and be connected with them. We want to be present to all of the families – including our staff and volunteers – whether we are offering prayer or helping to meet a need that they have.”
Anderson explained that for the families and youth at YFC El Paso, family and community is at the heart of their values.
“This is a group of people who will respond immediately when they hear about a need. They put their hearts and souls into serving others. Even the teens – they are excited to be helping and to be part of the YFC ministry. Belonging is very important to them.”
YFC El Paso officials add that they want to provide the youth they serve with an actual brick and mortar location, so that they can regularly visit and feel at home.
“Because of the restrictions that the campuses have in place because of COVID, we’re finding that our ministry’s biggest need is that we need an actual location where the kids can safely interact and just be themselves,” continued Anderson. “And even though YFC El Paso has existed for 75 years, we’ve never had our own facility. And so that’s something that we’re trying to raise money for this year – the Youth For Christ Youth Center. Part of our 75th celebration is to provide a safe place where kids can visit, engage with mentors and have a chance to be active – all in an environment where they can grow and walk with Christ.”