Young Life celebrates 75 years

On Oct. 17, the Christian-based organization Young Life turned 75 years old. Decatur’s branch celebrated with a banquet of 250 people and a “great” speaker, according to Atlanta leader Troy Earnest.

“There was a lot of laughter, and I walked away thinking, ‘wow, tonight was great,’” he said. “One of the highlights of the night was Renfroe parents ‘whooping’ when I mentioned the new middle school program Wyldlife. I think it says a lot that the program at the high school is so good that parents are pumped to have it come to the middle school.”

Earnest’s involvement with Young Life started at Lakeside High School in Atlanta 22 years ago. He’s been a member ever since.

When I was in high school, I was looking for adults other than my parents who would care about me,” he said.

He hopes the organization provides this same environment for kids today.

“High school is a crucial time in life, and [leaders] want to support and love kids through it all,” he said.

Earnest’s involvement with the group came with him to college, and he spent his days leading and volunteering. He eventually made his way to DeKalb County, serving as Area Director, who “essentially beats the drum for Young Life.”

He hopes to dispel the idea that the group is a cult and extends his hand to kids hesitant to join.

“We want to know people and for everyone to feel invited here,” he said. “The thing about Young Life is that we just show up and want to love people for people.”

He believes the reason members stick around is because “they realize we care,” he said.

For members like junior Keson Graham, Young Life provides an opportunity to be a leader and a chance to let loose.

“I go to Young Life to have fun and see friends,” he said. “There are skits and games, and the club means a lot to me.”

But the club provides more than just fun and games. Members also have the chance to “talk about God,” Graham said.

This environment, he said, is what keeps him coming back.