“This is now!” read a text message from my wife Becky just a few Fridays ago. It came in at 7:14 am, and was accompanied by the picture to the left. Let me explain a few details about the picture, and why Becky would text it to me.
First, it’s a picture of about 25 teenagers in our living room for the first Burnt Hills Young Life “Campaigners” meeting of the year. This crew will gather every Friday morning before school to study the Scriptures and grow together in their relationships with Christ. The goals for a campaigner group are simple: grow in Christ, learn to love each other, and learn to love the people that they spend time with at school and at home.
Second, the bearded man at the easel is our new Staff Associate in Burnt Hills, Aaron Batkay. Aaron officially started on the Young Life staff on September 1st. He came to us with experience both as a Young Life kid at South Glens Falls high school and a volunteer in college and grad school. I met with Aaron and one of his mentors back in January, and drove home with a distinct impression that Aaron ought to be on Young Life staff. Nine months later, there he is teaching kids about Jesus in our living room in Burnt Hills. God answered a lot of prayers to make that happen.
Finally, you might be asking “Glenn, where were you when this text was sent? Why weren’t you at Campaigners?” The answer is that I was in Vermont, at a Denny’s, meeting with the Young Life volunteer leaders in Burlington. A few years ago, when my role transitioned from area work to regional development work, the plan was to hire someone who could begin to take responsibility for the local area work. Hiring Aaron is the first step toward fulfilling that plan. For the record, I’m not going anywhere. I will continue to serve as a Young Life leader on the Burnt Hills club team, under Aaron’s leadership. As he assumes responsibility for leading the Burnt Hills effort, I will be training him over the next two years to be able to become the Area Director for the Capital District. When that process is complete, I will be even more available to develop new Young Life areas, staff and volunteer teams toward our vision of reaching every kid.
When I look at the picture that Becky texted me, it reminds me that a few years ago, finding the next generation of leadership for Young Life here locally seemed like a far off idea. But the picture proves that “This is now!”