Girls from YFC’s Campus Life pose for a quick picture with Campus Life Director Rachel Bush and volunteers Jessica Wright and Allie Thornton after a Campus Life gathering one Tuesday night.
Youth for Christ (YFC) of Rome impacts the future of Shorter University students by offering them opportunities to build their resumes while enabling them to impact the future of Rome-area youth. YFC teaches students who serve with the organization of the influence they can have on lives in Rome and around the world.
YFC is a national organization with a local base in Rome. Its mission states, “YFC reaches young people everywhere… to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to prayer and the Word of God, passion for sharing the love of Christ and commitment to social involvement.” YFC of Rome focuses on impacting the lives of at-risk teens through a variety of events and ministry programs.
For several Shorter students, volunteering with YFC led to internships and even career opportunities with the organization. Mary Blanks, a 2013 Shorter graduate, began volunteering with YFC her sophomore year of college. She interned for YFC her senior year, and she now serves as the Juvenile Justice Director for the organization.
The Juvenile Justice Ministry (JJM) is one of the four main ministry programs YFC runs. JJM of Youth for Christ of Rome serves the Bob Richards Youth Detention Center, seeking to help these individuals acquire and develop a way of living taught by Jesus Christ, balancing the physical, emotional, mental and spiritual aspects of life.
For Blanks, serving with YFC provided her more than just a career. Serving with YFC has forever changed her life.
“I have built relationships with teens I probably wouldn’t have if not for YFC. I have heard first-hand stories of their unimaginable pain and hurt,” Blanks said. “Most importantly, I have seen God transform the hearts and minds of these hurting teenagers in a mighty way that strengthens my walk with Him. It’s incredible.”
Senior communication arts major Jessica Wright interned with YFC this Spring semester. Wright’s internship allowed her to gain internship credit hours required for Shorter communication arts majors but also allowed her to see first-hand the difficulties some of the youth of Rome face.
“Some of these kids have gone through so much in their lives — more than most of us can even understand or will ever see,” Wright said. “They need people they can look up to and learn from.”
Wright works directly with the Campus Life ministry of YFC and has seen herself and others grow through this ministry. Wright said getting to know the youth who attend Campus Life has been the biggest blessing for her.
“These girls are really starting to make their relationships with the Lord more personal, and some of them are really starting to get it and understand what it means to be a follower of Jesus.”
Serving with the different ministries of YFC allows college volunteers or interns a variety of ways to gain hands-on experience while serving the youth of Rome, according to the YFC website. YFC’s four ministries include JJM, Campus Life, Parent Life and YFC Camp. Wright added that college students serving with these ministries learn to empower and disciple youth into dependable individuals.
This year, serving with YFC also gave student volunteers experience in the production of Rome-wide events featuring big-name TV stars and comedians. YFC hosts several events each year to raise money for their ministries. One of the events YFC hosted in September 2013 featured guests from the TV shows “Duck Dynasty” and “Preachers’ Daughters.”
While YFC of Rome’s focus is impacting at-risk youth, the organization has and is still directly impacting Shorter students. Wright and Blanks see serving with YFC as an opportunity for students to take part in impacting the future of local youth.
“I just want to encourage the students of Shorter to really consider volunteering at YFC and investing in these kids’ lives as a way to impact the next generation of youths,” Wright said.
Any student interested in becoming involved with YFC of Rome should email one of the staff members, fill out an application and decide in which part of YFC to become involved. All contact information can be found on YFC’s website: www.yfcrome.org.