HJ/EDMay 8, 2006

Youth for Christ group seeks full-time staff

By Roz Kohls
Staff Writer

What do crazy, but fun, activities like sucking tapioca pudding through nylon stockings and throwing cow tongues have to do with the Dassel Cokato area?

Plenty, if you’re a middle school age student getting involved with Crow River Youth for Christ.

Crow River YFC is planning to expand into the Dassel Cokato area. Dawn Jelley, ministry director, and Kim Sundve, campus life director in Litchfield, hosted an awareness luncheon Tuesday at The Grounds in Cokato. Seth Isaacson of Cokato came up with the idea for the awareness gathering, she said.

YFC has been in the Dassel Cokato area since the 1950s, but many residents don’t know much about it, Jelley said.

YFC is not a youth group with a specific church or denomination. It does not compete with churches. It is not the same as Youthquake, which ended in December. And although evangelist Billy Graham was the first campus life director, it is not the large youth crusade it was originally in 1944, Jelley said.

YFC’s motto is “Geared to the times, anchored to the Rock,” she told those in attendance, who included Al Nagel, Mitch Holt, Bob and Tom Morris and Wayne Murphy.

YFC’s goal is to be a bridge between unchurched youth to church. Approximately 80 percent of middle school and high school students don’t attend church, she said.

Also, between 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. is the most likely time youths will experiment with drugs and alcohol or get pregnant, Jelley added. Many of YFC’s activities are scheduled then so youths have safer, more wholesome and fun options.

That is where the sucking tapioca pudding through a nylon stocking pulled over the head, and throwing cow tongues come in. They are activities based on the TV show, “Fear Factor,” which middle school youth especially love doing in YFC’s campus life in Litchfield.

YFC’s goals for Dassel Cokato is to get a full-time staff person and volunteers, “Someone who loves kids and willing to run a crazy game,” Jelley said.

YFC currently serves fifth through eighth graders together in one group in Dassel Cokato. There’s too big of an age difference between fifth and eighth graders so YFC would like to divide them into two groups, fifth and sixth in one, and seventh and eighth graders in the other, Jelley said.

The crazy games and dodgeball teams attract numerous youths. To help youths in “life issues with a Biblical base,” YFC needs them in smaller groups.

Sundve next told how she works with high school age students, which will be the next age group to be the focus of YFC after the middle school students. She had counseled six high school girls through YFC in her home and at the Dairy Queen Brazier in Cokato, where Sundve used to work, she said.

When Sundve returned to the Dairy Queen later, she happened to see one of her “girls,” there. The girl dropped her ice cream on the floor and rushed over to Sundve, exclaiming how God had directed her to come to her when she most needed to have Sundve talk to her, Sundve said.

“The longer I’m in it, the more impact I see,” she said.

YFC has a budget of $190,000 a year. Because there is no specific church or denomination sponsoring it, YFC relies on donations from area churches, businesses, private groups, individuals and fund raisers. Faith-based organizations recently became eligible for grants, so YFC is tapping into those funds also, Jelley said.

YFC also utilizes a musical group, Carpenter’s Tools, to attract youth, raise funds and proclaim its mission, “to communicate the life-changing message of Jesus Christ to young people.”

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