Sowing Seeds: During season of giving, Young Life continues tradition of investing in youth

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By Thomas Sellers Jr.

Unseen events have led to multiple changes within the organization of Young Life in the Millington area since 2020.

Just in time for a global pandemic, Blake Spurgeon arrived in town and officially took over as area director in the fall of 2019. Spurgeon and the leaders of Young Life got a chance to host a traditional banquet at Millington Crosspointe Church.

Then the annual tradition had to be modified with a drive-thru version last year. Then on Oct. 25, the second drive-thru Young Life Banquet was held outside of Crosspointe. Spurgeon was still on hand to lend his support but now he holds the title of educator.

Moving back into teaching, Spurgeon’s departure shook up the leadership structure at Shelby-Tipton Young Life. The second drive-thru event gave Mindi Harkness a chance to introduce herself to those who support the Christian outreach program. Affiliated with Young Life for more than a decade alongside her husband Chad, Harkness is not the mission staff associate.

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“We love stepping in the world of kids and showing them the love of Jesus and supporting them in this walk of life,” Harkness said.

Working in radiology part time, Harkness saw an opportunity to increase her participation in Young Life.

Harkness gathered the children including her 15-year-old son Cade for a photo around the banner displaying sponsors like Patriot Bank, Bethany Huffman CPA, an-i.v., Boatwright Pharmacy, Home Superior Products, Reed Family Dentistry and Commodore Village.

Young Life is a non-denominational Christian outreach program for teenagers. The drive-thru event was a chance to raise funds for the staff and volunteers of Shelby-Tipton Young Life to serve schools like Tipton-Rosemark Academy, Arlington High School and Millington Central High School.

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Young Life is a religious organization based in Colorado Springs, Colo. The organization was started in Dallas in 1941 by Presbyterian minister Jim Rayburn. Young Life operates globally using several different organizations with different focuses.

“It’s important for us to have a moment in time,” Harkness said. “Spending time with people is never a moment wasted. We want to recognize our sponsors, donors and people committed to supporting us through financial donations, prayers and planning. This is our moment to come together to recognize them.”

Harkness was introduced to Young Life by the late Bob Baker. She said the organization has added so much to her life by being able to help youth navigate life through whatever changes that may arrive.

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“Our kids are great,” she said. “It’s very hard to be a teenager. It has always been hard to be a teenager. At a time now with social media, everything is in their face every second of everyday. They have very unrealistic expectations of themselves and of each other.

“It’s very important for us to keep them focused on what they are created for,” Harkness concluded. “They were created to serve and please God. That was the only reason we were created. We try to reiterate with them that as long as they are trying to impress their peers or other people on this earth, they will come up short. We try to keep our focus on Jesus, loving ourselves and knowing that we’re fully loved by Jesus.”

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For those interested in donating or contributing to Shelby-Tipton Young Life call at 215-4481 or email us at Shelby.Tipton.YL@gmail.com.