03/07/06 — New Young Life office coming

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New Young Life office coming

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on March 7, 2006 1:57 PM

A Christian outreach organization that aims to get young people more interested in their faith is building a new home on East Ash Street.

Young Life is a nationwide ministry for high school students. It has been in operation in Wayne County for about five years and has moved three times in that period: from the Family Y to a Berkeley Boulevard site to the home of Bryan and Lindsay Hancock, the area directors of the ministry.

The new location is a house across from First Presbyterian Church. The 55-year-old house was bought by a group of interested donors and has been under renovation.

"We have to rewire, replumb, everything to bring it up to code," said Jay Best, Young Life committee co-chairman with wife Kathy. Fortunately, he said, the project has had "a lot of people in Wayne County making this happen."

Over the next few months -- construction is anticipated to be complete by June 1 -- the house will double in size, Best said.

It will primarily be used as permanent office space. The addition will be used as a meeting room, with other areas to be used for offices, small group meetings and community education.

Hancock and his wife have a 13-year history with Young Life, seven of them as staff members. Young Life could also be credited with bringing them together. The couple met while volunteering as college students, he at Duke and she at Carolina. They joined the staff when they moved to Wilmington and were brought to Wayne County to launch its program five years ago.

Young Life is a nationwide outreach Christian ministry for high school students, Hancock said.

Put more simply, "It's a Christian ministry for non-Christian kids. It's basically for kids who aren't excited about church," he said.

It is not to replace church or youth groups, Hancock explained, but rather to enhance them and provide an alternative for those who might not respond to more orthodox organizations.

"We go to the schools, but we don't have religious meetings or anything like that. We go to games and practices, things like that. We're 'adult friends' for the high school students; we have teams of volunteers to do that," he said.

Reliant on volunteers to support and sustain the non-profit organization, 100 percent of the Young Life budget comes from donations, Hancock said.

"As we grow, the first thing we need to get in a new school is parental support and a team of volunteers to go and work there," he said. "That's part of the reason for the office initiative."

Currently, Young Life offers weekly clubs at two area barns each Tuesday evening. On Hood Swamp Road, students from Eastern Wayne High School and Wayne Country Day School meet; Spring Creek High School students can attend meetings on Indian Springs Road.

"Those are the high schools where we're most active," Hancock said, noting that there are plans to add Charles B. Aycock High School in the fall and ultimately expand to include all the area high schools.

While they don't necessarily have to find a barn in those communities, Hancock notes the uniqueness that has already become a local trend.

"Nowhere else does Young Life meet in barns, but it's a great place to meet because Young Life is messy," Hancock joked, since some of the activities might include food-throwing, making a barn's atmosphere "the perfect place to meet."

In addition to the weekly club meetings, the program offers informal weekly Bible study groups called "campaigners" for youths becoming more interested in faith.

"We have several of these for every school" we work with, Hancock said. "We also have two big camping trips, a weekend in the winter and a weeklong one in the summer."

The ultimate aim is to lead young people in the direction of getting involved in their local church, he said.

"I think you could crystallize what Young Life is all about by saying, we're really passionate about high school students who are lost in their faith. We're there living life, walking alongside them, trying to point them toward Jesus," he said.

For more information about Young Life, the national Web site is www.younglife.org. The local phone number is 344-1487.