Youthfront celebrates its 69th Anniversary
At the age of 18, Al Metsker moved to Kansas City from Eureka, Kansas to attend Business College. After watching a group of students faithfully living life for Christ, Al decided to become a Christian. His first assignment as a new Christian was to drive the gospel team from his church to evangelistic meetings. Before long, he began to preach at these meetings. Through this group, Al met Vidy, his wife-to-be, who shared his passion for young people. Within a couple of years, Al connected with other leaders around the country who were passionate about ministry to young people and they formed the national organization called Youth for Christ. The picture above shows Al Metsker standing behind Billy Graham.
Al and Vidy realized that God was calling them to share the Good News of Jesus Christ to young people. On June 19, 1943, our ministry was born – and one week later, Al and Vidy were married. Their love for the Lord, for each other, and for young people was deep and contagious. That love has been passed on through this ministry for seven decades. Al Metsker died in 1993. Vidy is still enjoying life and her huge family which recently gathered at Youthfront Camp South for a Metsker family reunion. Vidy is shown in this picture with me and Youthfront board member Dr. Dean Blevins in a ribbon cutting ceremony for a new cabin at Youthfront Camp West.
At the significant marker of our 69th anniversary, we are excited to announce several thrilling things that will be happening during the 70th year of Youthfront’s ministry. Recently, Youthfront received the largest contribution in its history and the Board of Directors has allocated $750,000 to launch the first of multiple phases in a Camp Development Initiative. During Youthfront’s 70th year (June 2012 – June 2013), the first phase involves expanding Youthfront Camp West (see front page article for details).
Youthfront Camp West is considered a national leader in pre-adolescent and middle school youth ministry. We have continued to expand the capacity at Camp West because of the growing demand. Youthfront thinks beyond the concept that we have to primarily entertain this age group. We believe that young people are interested in deeper spiritual issues and fully capable of engaging in classic Christian formation and learning.
Additionally, as we progress through Youthfront’s 70th year celebration, we will also be unveiling other amazing developments of our expanding ministry, such as:
New Ministry Programs
Imagine Argentine: Youthfront is launching an urban formational experience in the Argentine district of Kansas City. This will involve bring young people from Argentine and young people from outside of Argentine together to engage in participation with God’s mission and each other. We can’t wait to share some very exciting news and developments taking place with this ministry initiative.
Something to Drink: Something to Drink will be added to the Something to Eat program. Both initiatives come from Matthew 25 when Jesus reminds his followers that when we give something to eat to those who are hungry and something to drink to those who are thirsty, we are directly serving Jesus Christ. We know that the point of Jesus’ teaching includes more acts of service than providing food and drink. This initiative focusing on Matthew 25 is intended to ignite the imagination of thousands of young people to discern where Jesus is at work in and around their lives and then join in serving God’s mission for the world.
New Youthfront Offices
Over the last couple of years, we have considered that God might be opening a way for us to lean more fully into the ministry Christ is shaping us for. We began to understand that our physical surroundings were fashioned by the kind of youth ministry we were in the past. Eventually, through a continued process of discernment, prayer, and dialogue, we decided to move forward in pursuit of redeveloping the kind of facilities that sustain the work of Youthfront in these times. We have enjoyed working with city officials and a team of developers to create a vision for a revitalized area encompassing our current property. While maintaining a strong ministry presence in the Kansas City area and throughout the Midwest, Youthfront has grown significantly over the last several years, becoming a prominent national organization. We have fulltime staff at offices in five locations at our camps, urban centers, and in Mexico. Through various partnerships, our staff is fulfilling Youthfront’s mission all over the country and internationally. We are excited to create a new headquarters that will feature technology, communications, learning, training, and creative spaces that will propel forward our vision to bring youth into a growing relationship with Jesus Christ. We believe this will come clearly into focus during our 70th year celebration.
Most organizations, religious or non-religious, never see a 70th year of existence. Fewer still are thriving and providing leadership in their 70th year. We praise God for our growth and for the way we are prospering in our mission and calling. We are able to do all these things because of people like you, followers of Jesus and friends of Youthfront, who give generously.
We believe that the environments that Youthfront has had the privilege and stewardship to create and nurture is not some new fangled fad, nor is it a retreat from the world. Instead, these environments are a beginning, a place, and a God-given space that illustrates and demonstrates the reality that someday the whole world will be recognizably filled with the visible glory of God.