Western Great Lakes Young Life

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Welcome Christy Eifert, Zeeland’s New Church Partner

Western Great Lakes Young Life is pleased to welcome another new staff member in the region: Christy Eifert, church partner at First Reformed Church of Zeeland. We wanted to share a little bit about Christy so you can get to know her and welcome her.

[Note: This article was first posted here and is printed with permission.]


Christy Eifert[First Church] is pleased to announce that Christy Eifert has accepted the Young Life Church Partner position and started on Sunday, January 17.

Christy comes to Zeeland from Mason, Michigan (southeast of Lansing) with a rich history of involvement in Young Life, both as a student and a leader. WyldLife and Young Life have shaped and molded Christy’s life. Christy’s relationship with Christ began as a result of her involvement in WyldLife as a middle school student, and her time with Young Life as a high school and college student has shaped and refined her faith. She attended Hope College for two years before transferring to Michigan State University, where she recently finished her degree in psychology.

While in college, Christy volunteered with WyldLife at Holland Christian for a semester, and then was a WyldLife team leader at Williamston Middle School after transferring to Michigan State. Christy has recently been an active member of Riverview Church in Holt, Michigan. In her spare time, Christy enjoys being outside, hiking, reading and watching movies.

christy with YL kids

Christy with a group of YL students.

The Young Life Church Partner position is a new one for First. This position will include a combination of Equipping and Evangelism ministries; Christy’s time will be shared between ministry to students who are already active at First and outreach to students in the Zeeland community through the WyldLife program. Christy looks forward to getting to know the youth at First and in the community, sharing Jesus with them and walking alongside them as they grow in their faith.

Please welcome Christy warmly and be in prayer as she moves to the Zeeland area, begins her new role, and becomes an active part of First Reformed Church.

Zeeland is part of Greater Holland Young Life. They shared this recently: “We are excited to welcome Christy…She will be a great addition to the church staff as well as work with kids in the area through Zeeland WyldLife!” God bless you, Christy, in this new adventure.

A bit about Church Partnerships

There is an exciting model in youth ministry that connects Young Life with a local congregation, the Young Life Church Partnership program. Across the nation there are a number of partnerships between Young Life and congregations but nowhere is there the critical mass of partnerships we have here in the Western Great Lakes Region.


Fourteen churches have entered into this partnership with Young Life to reach beyond the walls of their congregation to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith. Some of these partnerships have helped us reach new schools, like Harbor Springs and Petoskey, and even new communities such as Jack Droppers starting WyldLife in Muskegon. We are reaching hundreds more kids because of the partnerships with these congregations.

The church partner is a full time employee of the church who’s primary responsibility is the high school and middle school youth ministry of the congregation. The church partner then spends 30% of their time working with Young Life as an outreach of the church. Because of Young Life’s incarnational approach the partner spends a great deal of time at the local high school or middle school. At the school they connect with kids from church, kids from Young Life, and kids with no connection to a community of faith.


We ask these partners for a three year commitment, which is twice the average tenure of a youth minister. Over the past ten years 95% of these partners have completed at least three years. Ryan White at First Christian Reformed Church in Allendale is the “dean” of the church partners in his tenth year.

Jay Lindell, Area Director in Holland and specialized minister in the Reformed Church, leads this program for our region. With pride Jay reflects on the quality of these partners.

“We have a deep pool of women and men who have been Young Life leaders with at least four years of experience, probably 2,000 hours or more, under our supervision. The regional interview team meets with 12-18 candidates each year. We know exactly what we are looking for. We already know these folks are successful with teenagers and most have experience leading teams. Their primary calling is teenagers. We have identified the competencies necessary for a fruitful ministry.”

Jay meets with all the partners once each month for training. Some of this training is around organization and communication since most partners are in their first professional job. Some of the training is around discussions going on in the world of professional youth ministers such as what makes faith stick into adulthood.

“Perhaps the best part of training is getting together with other people who are doing the same job and learning from each other. Someone in their first year will bring up a concern and then someone with a little more experience will assure them they are normal. Then the group shares ideas of how they addressed that issue.”

The Young Life Church Partnership program has also become a pipeline into other forms of ministry. Many of our former partners have gone on to seminary, to Young Life staff, to college campus ministries and to be pastors of congregations.

Here is a list of our current church partnerships as of Spring 2014:

First Reformed Church, Grandville
Partner: Jeff Watson

Second Christian Reformed Church, Fremont
Partner:  Brittany Baker

Allendale 1st Christian Reformed Church
Partner:  Ryan White

First Presbyterian, Harbor Springs
Partner:  Mike Ossewaarde

First Presbyterian Petoskey
Partner: Jake Tracy           

Westview Christian Reformed Church, Grand Rapids
Partner: Bryan DeKoekkoek

Alive Ministries (CRC), Jenison
Partner: Carrie Rodgers

Fellowship Reformed Church, Muskegon
Partner: Jack Droppers

Keystone Church – Grand Rapids
Partner: Caitlyn Ouwinga – 2013

Immanuel Reformed Church, Grand Rapids
Partner: Michael Bredeweg

Trinity Lutheran Church, Midland
Partner: Jordan Palladino

Memorial Presbyterian Church, Midland
Partner: Kyle Kuipers

If your congregation is interested in exploring a partnership with Young Life please contact Jay Lindell.  jaylindell (at) gmail (dot) com.

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Grand Haven’s New Church Parter: Bryan Jackson

BryanYoung Life’s Western Great Lakes Region is pleased to introduce another new staff member: Bryan Jackson, church partner at First CRC of Grand Haven. Let’s take a moment to get to know Bryan and welcome him into this new role. (Note: If you’re curious about what the Young Life church partnership program is all about, we’ve written more about it here.)

Bryan grew up in Kalamazoo, MI. After high school he attended Michigan State for two years and then moved on to Grand Valley State University where he graduated in 2014.

While at GVSU, Bryan was introduced to Young Life. For the past three years he has served as a volunteer leader and team leader at Hudsonville High School. What Bryan appreciates most about Young Life’s ministry is that “rather than creating something and inviting kids to it, we get to go into kids worlds and then create something that will help them best encounter Jesus.”

In addition to his involvement with Young Life, Bryan has worked for many summers as a counselor and coordinator at Camp Geneva in Holland. Camp Geneva’s Executive Director Kevin VanderKlok had this to say: “I have much admiration and respect for Bryan. He’s wildly gifted, but nothing stands out more than his desire to pour Christ’s love into young people. I’ve seen it first hand in his various roles at Camp Geneva. I am stoked that he is serving with Young Life. As a former YL leader myself, I know he’ll do great work!”

YLIn addition to hanging out with young people, Bryan has some notable hobbies. He enjoys learning as many instruments as possible, playing baseball and doing stand-up comedy.

When asked about his dreams and goals for Young Life in Grand Haven, Bryan responded: “I’m excited to reintroduce the ministry of Young Life to the community of Grand Haven. My dream is that Jesus would use me and members of the community to reveal his presence to students at Grand Haven High and that many of them would come to embrace a lifestyle that reflects a truth far bigger than just themselves.”

Please join us in welcoming Bryan to this position and pray for him and for Young Life in Grand Haven to grow and thrive!

Lakeshore Young Life Welcomes New Area Director

In the neighboring cities of Muskegon, Spring Lake, and Grand Haven, Young Life has been introducing kids to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in faith since the 1970’s, starting first in Grand Haven, then Spring Lake, and finally moving into the Muskegon Oakridge community five years ago.

Over the summer, a decision was made by the Young Life committees in these three areas, along with leadership from Associate Regional Director Kevin Eastway, to merge the three into one unified area called Lakeshore Young Life.

With this merge, we are excited to announce that Josh DeHaan will serve as the first Area Director of Lakeshore Young Life. The dreams and prayers of many in these communities have finally come to fruition.


“We are excited to have Josh and his wife Tiffany join Lakeshore Young Life this fall,” Kevin Eastway shared. “Josh has a passion for empowering leaders to grow and follow Christ with their whole lives and is looking forward to combining that passion with his love of kids to help develop this new area.”

For Josh, the call to youth ministry came over eight years ago after studying chemistry at Hope College and coaching football at Holland Christian. It was at that time when he says he felt God calling him off the pre-med track and into ministry with teenagers.

Soon after, two friends named Joe Graham and Tommy Gordon invited Josh to check out Young Life club. Josh recalls: “I went to the first club of the year and was hooked. After a couple years volunteering [as a leader], I applied for staff and have worked for the last eight years.”


Josh (pictured middle) with students from Holland at Beyond Malibu.

For those eight years, Josh served on staff with Greater Holland Young Life and is currently working on his Masters of Divinity at Western Theological Seminary.

As Josh steps into this new position with Lakeshore Young Life, he is mindful of the story God has been writing in each of these communities over the past decade and more.

Young Life staff like Church Partner Bryan Jackson in Grand Haven, Scott & Sheila Addison in Spring Lake, and Jack Droppers, former Young Life Church Partner who pioneered Young Life in Muskegon-Oakridge, are just a few who have helped pave the way for Young Life to grow along the lakeshore, in addition to many other faithful volunteer leaders, parents and prayer warriors.


Josh (third from right) with Grand Haven Young Life leaders.

“It is evident that they have a huge heart for all kids in Grand Haven, Spring Lake and all of Muskegon County and they have been praying for this to happen for a long time,” said Josh.

A unified Lakeshore Young Life will set the area up to build a stronger, more diverse Young Life community in order to reach even more kids.

Josh and Tiffany are excited to join the Muskegon community, a place they have close ties to already knowing some friends and family in the community. They hope to be listeners as they learn how to best serve the schools and form groups of adults who want to see Young Life in Muskegon County.

“My prayer,” says Josh, “is that God will lead us to the right places to start Young Life. It is a big area with a lot of school districts but I could see Young Life starting up in a lot of new places in the next few years.”


Josh and the leaders from Lakeshore Young Life, together for the first time at Leader Weekend 2017.

What Josh loves most about Young Life’s mission and hopes to build on as they expand ministry along the lakeshore is the emphasis on leaders being present in kids’ lives and the accessibility of Young Life to any kid, no matter what kind of background in faith they have.

“Leaders are present in the lives of kids. Kids know that leaders care because they are a consistent presence, not requiring the kid to come to their events, but meeting them where they are at. If a kid wants to get involved in Young Life,” says Josh, “all they have to do is connect with a leader or show up at club. You can’t get much more accessible than that.”

>> Please join us in welcoming Josh to his new role with Lakeshore Young Life. We anticiate the Lord accomplishing great things in and through him and the teams of leaders in Spring Lake, Muskegon, Grand Haven and beyond.

>> Are you interested in learning more about Young Life along the lakeshore or want to get involved? They are praying about and looking for God to bring people together to begin YoungLives (ministry to teen moms), Spring Lake WyldLife (middle school ministry), Mona Shores WyldLife, and Young Life in some of the Muskegon schools.  If you are interested in helping make this a reality, please contact Josh.


DeHaan_009Josh and Tiffany DeHaan have been married for six years and have two young children, Evelyn (4) and Charlie (1). They love to cook and sit around a table with people. They recently canned a huge batch of salsa to enjoy year-round. In their words, “the table is a sacred place where we can share food and share our lives.” Other sacred moments for Josh in youth ministry include the trips he’s taken kids on to places like Wilderness Ranch and Malibu because of the deep conversations and friendships that are formed while hiking together in the mountains.



Why We Do Committee

Over the past year, we’ve dug deeper here on this blog into the 5 C’s of Young Life: Why we do contact work, club, camp and Campaigners. Today we’ll conclude this series with why we do committee.

We all know how committee meetings can too often be associated with long meetings and not-so-thrilling agendas, focusing only on the task at hand. But that’s not the experience of Scott Addison, committee chairperson for Spring Lake Young Life. Scott gives us this glimpse into what makes their committee meetings different:

Committee meetings can easily be all business. But there is something about sitting around a table and sharing a meal that slows things down and helps you focus on the people in front of you less than the tasks at hand. The tasks are still important, but relationships trump them.

Relationships are at the heart of Young Life—whether it be the relationship a YL leader builds with a teenager or the relationships that form between committee members, staff, and volunteers. At the center of all we do is this desire for everyone involved in the mission to be drawn deeper in relationship with each other and with our Savior.

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Spring Lake YL committee member Cyndy (center) along with a YL leader and student.

In the Western Great Lakes Region, Young Life is organized into 32 local areas in order to best reach kids in their own communities. Some of these areas are staffed with a director, staff associate, administrator, mission staff, and possibly church partners. However most areas have no staff and are led by volunteers alone. We have 19 volunteer-led areas.

Behind each one of these areas is an amazing team of adults from the community who partner with staff. They are the Young Life committee. We like to think of them as the backbone holding everything in place.

Having a dedicated, dynamic committee is a lifeline for every local YL area. But it’s especially true for a volunteer area like Spring Lake Young Life.

“As a volunteer area, our YL committee is managing all behind-the-scenes aspects of Young Life in our area, including leader recruitment, special events, and fundraising,” shared Scott.

Committees oversee finances, foster donor relations, pray faithfully for kids and for Young Life, plan events like fundraisers and community socials, and support the staff and area director.

So, who are these amazing committee members who do it all? They are adults who care about kids and are committed to Young Life’s mission to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in their faith.

Spring Lake Committee

Spring Lake Young Life Committee | Winter 2017

Many of them are parents who have their own kids involved in Young Life. You’ll also find some who were Young Life kids themselves long ago, and who want to see today’s kids come to know Jesus in the same way. Some are pastors, teachers, social workers, or doctors who understand the importance of building relationships with adolescents today. Some are builders, bankers, small business owners or community leaders with unique skills and circles of influence who want to be used in their community to make a difference in the next generation.

At their best, YL committees beautifully reflect the community they serve as each member brings with them diverse perspectives, skill sets, and resources.

“Our committee members leverage their own networks and circles of influence to find new leaders and help create events for our YL community to connect,” shared Scott. “Young Life has grown in our community thanks to our committee’s collective efforts, whether it be hosting leader feeders, praying for kids during club time on Mondays, or hosting events like our annual hayride.”

Scott and his wife Sheila, who is the Team Leader for Spring Lake Young Life, have appreciated the diversity of ideas and experiences and the collective wisdom shared by their committee members as they discuss pressing issues or how to grow as an area.

Recently, Spring Lake Young Life experienced a time of uncertainty and was thankful for a committee that came together, stayed strong despite turnover and remained unified in vision. Scott reflected more about that time:

“After a year of sending kids to camp and recruiting a team of leaders, we were down to only one leader and nothing specific was happening with kids. It was a low point. We felt out of ideas and were not certain what was next, but being at the bottom together and continuing to do what we needed to do—pray and ask—was a memorable time. No one bailed on the vision. We continued to meet, pray, and maintain community, trusting God to grow our numbers.”

Scott sums up his YL committee experience with this: “It all feels like a blessing from God.”

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Scott & Sheila Addison (pictured right) with Spring Lake YL leaders at a mini-golf fundraiser which raised money for kids to go to camp and brought awareness of YL to their community.

If you are reading this and thinking to yourself, I love Young Life; I love kids; I could do that! Consider joining a Young Life committee. Here’s more info on what that entails.

Another way to get a taste for YL committee is to attend our upcoming Committee Training Day. RSVP through your local Young Life area or contact us here for more information.

2017 Committee Training Day (Social Media) Image (1)

Don’t miss the other articles in this series: Why We Do Contact Work, Why We Do Club, Why We Do Camp, and Why We Do Campaigners.

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Following God’s Lead in Glen Lake

A story of being faithful to God’s gospel, listening to His direction, and following His lead.

By Abby Deters


Abby (pictured second from left) with Young Life girls at camp.

Like many Young Life stories, Glen Lake Young Life’s story began with a passion, a group of people, and a prayer. A passion that believes every kid deserves to hear the gospel of Jesus Christ in a real, exciting way; people who love Jesus Christ and care about kids in Leelanau County, MI; and a prayer that God would open the doors for His gospel to be displayed through Young Life.

“From the start, it was overwhelmingly clear that God was moving towards Glen Lake and we either had to jump on board or get out of the way! I’ve never felt such a strong push for such a small school in Northern Michigan,” added Erin Iafrate, Area Director for Grand Traverse Young Life

Glen lake Aerial

Aerial View of Glen Lake, near the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. Photo courtesy of MLive.

Glen Lake is a town with a couple of churches. A town with less than 200 high schoolers. A town of tourism that multiplies in the summer—thanks to the beautiful Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore—and clears out in the winter. But it is a town that God cares deeply about. 

Within this small, tourist town, a few individuals rose up and said “yes” to pursuing the mission to bring Young Life to Leelanau County. They began praying, dreaming and reaching out to other people and churches in the community to see exactly where Young Life should begin.

One of these key players was Pastor Dan DeVries, the new pastor of Glen Lake Community Reformed Church. Dan is a graduate of Hope College and Western Seminary in Holland, MI and had worked in youth ministry for several years. Not long after Dan began working at the church, God spoke into his life through prayer and invitation from others to have the church and Young Life partner together.

Here’s how Pastor Dan tells the story:  

When I arrived as the Pastor at Glen Lake Church, I went out to lunch with some of our students and asked them, “How many kids at your school do you think are Christian?” Their response was, “Maybe 10%.” My heart broke in that moment and I began to pray in earnest for God to use our church to reach kids.  

One day as I was praying, God said “Young Life.” I didn’t know what to think, but in the coming days I received both a phone call and an email inviting me to come to a Young Life meeting, so I decided to go. As I listened to the conversation that night, the team was hoping to start Young Life at Glen Lake Schools, which is only a mile or so from our church.

The next week I met with Erin, the YL Area Director for Grand Traverse. It was clear that our desire was to partner together instead of competing for kids. She told me about the Young Life Church Partnership and after some research and conversations, it was clear that this was what God wanted for us.  

We began a pledge campaign to raise funds for the position, because otherwise we would not be able to make it work. By the grace of God, funds began to flow in, and in August of 2016 we hired Abby to be our Director of Student Ministries. The entire journey has God’s fingerprints all over it and we are so excited to see what God is going to do in our community!

“The Lord was speaking loud and clear,” reflects Erin Iafrate. “As Glen Lake Church and Grand Traverse Young Life began the process of hiring Abby as our Young Life Church Partner, every wall that we came up against—fundraising, voting, budget approvals—fell as we followed the Lord’s call.”

With this new partnership in place, we began praying boldly for three new leaders, three Leadership Support people, new relationships with kids, a club space, relationships with the school, kids to come to camp, and the reputation of Young Life to become known in the Glen Lake area.

About a month into the 2016-2017 school year, God provided one new male leader and one new Leadership Support team member. That same month, Young Life received the school administration’s blessing to have a presence in the school and relationships with faculty were developing.

Throughout the beginning of the semester, our team kept hearing God say, “Be faithful, keep showing up, listen, follow, and I will provide.” And he did! 

God opened seats at lunch tables for leaders to enter in and have conversations with kids—talking about life, school, relationships, movies, embarrassing moments, the latest dance trends, and Young Life.

These conversations had developed into relationships, which led to Glen Lake Young Life bringing their first group of history-making campers to Fall Weekend at Timber Wolf Lake. Through this experience, kids’ eyes were opened to the ministry of Young Life through games, music, cabin time, and the camp speaker.

With new energy, word about Young Life continued spreading. Shortly after camp, we placed two new volunteer leaders and two more Leadership Support Team members. With a full team of leaders, God said, “One more thing…I have a club space for you too.”  Wow! God is good, amen?!

Beginning a new ministry is scary and exciting all at the same time. It requires us to trust God a little more, to take steps of faith, to not be afraid to pray big prayers and to keep showing up even when it is hard.

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Glen Lake Young Life’s First Club | January 2017

Abby Deters  is the Young Life Church Partner at Glen Lake Reformed Church. She is passionate about Jesus Christ and kids and longs for every kid to have the opportunity to hear about Jesus Christ in a real, exciting way.

A Lasting Legacy: Celebrating Jay Lindell’s 35 Years with Young Life

13873097_10208721817335742_6810782610543718097_nJay Lindell was recently honored for 35 years of service on staff for Young Life, the past twenty-five of those years were as the Area Director for Greater Holland Young Life. Jay recently stepped out of the YL Area Director roll and accepted a new position as Executive Pastor of Christ Memorial Church in Holland. He will continue to oversee Young Life’s Church Partnership program in the Western Great Lakes RegionThis post is a tribute to Jay’s 35-year legacy in our region. Many staff and friends of Young Life have contributed stories and words of appreciation for this article.

Jay Lindell joined Young Life staff back in the early 1980’s, before many of the millennials who are reading this were even born. A lot has changed in 35 years, wouldn’t you agree?


Jay and Jeanne Lindell (pictured left) with the Young Life team circa 1981/1982.

If Facebook could provide a “timehop” back to that day, it would recall the early days of MTV, the launch of the space shuttle Columbia, and the first personal computers. Artists like Michael Jackson and Madonna were topping the charts, and Star Wars: Episode V—The Empire Strikes Back had just been released.

Young Life was only 40 years old when Jay came on staff. Back in the day when songs like Don’t Stop Believin’ and Sweet Home Alabama were considered “Recent Hits” instead of “Classics/Oldies” on the Young Life Leaders’ Club Song List.

Around the same time, another long-time YL staffer and former Holland Area Director, Jeff Munroe, joined Young Life staff too.

“We both had hair in those days,” says Munroe. “Jay’s hair and ultra-suave mustache made him look like Tom Cruise’s tail gunner in Top Gun. You couldn’t get cooler than that.”


Jay’s early days on Young Life staff began with him as a trainee in Grand Rapids and later as an Area Director in South Bend, IN. Jeff Munroe shared the following about how the hardships of those early days equipped Jay for the years to come:

“I remembered Jay as a young Area Director in South Bend, admitting to feeling overwhelmed and wondering whether he could do the job. It took remarkable courage and humility to do that. However, the hard lessons of the first decade are what made the last two and half success-filled decades possible. God has a way of shaping, molding, and forming us for ministry that none of us would sign up for. We glibly say, “You are the potter, I am the clay,” without thinking for a moment what it feels like to be a lump of clay. Jay can tell you it doesn’t always feel good. But if we want to be something and do something of value for the kingdom, we have to submit to being a lump of clay in the master’s hands. Jay did that, and the result is untold thousands of young people who have been introduced to Jesus Christ and grown in their faith.”

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Jay (pictured right) with a group from Young Life.

One of those untold thousands of young people is Cyndy Schurman. Cyndy was only sixteen when a friend invited her to Young Life club. It was YL leaders like Jay who influenced Cyndy’s deep love for the Lord and for the mission of Young Life.   

“Jay has been a constant throughout my journey with Young Life,” said Schurman. “He organized my work crew assignment at Trail West, connected me with the Area Director in the college town where I became a leader, recruited my husband and me for leadership when we were newly married, and was there to greet me when I got off the trail at Wilderness with a group of high school girls. Jay has been the face of Young Life for me as long as I have known what Young Life is…his presence has inspired and influenced my journey.”

During Jay’s tenure, Greater Holland Young Life grew to one of the largest Young Life Areas in the country, with 20 ministries and over 150 volunteer leaders. “God has blessed this work because of Jay’s humble and prayerful leadership,” shared Bob Haveman who serves on staff for Holland YL.

Greater Holland Young Life Staff

“Jay has always been encouraging, promoting Young Life and it’s mission to whomever would listen and wherever he had the chance,” shared Tami Poll, Co-Team Leader in Hamilton who has been involved with Greater Holland Young Life for the past nineteen years. 

Poll continued, “I have seen tremendous growth in Holland YL and so much of that is because of Jay’s leadership. Jay has a way of listening, asking questions and helping think through issues without just telling you how you should proceed. He has left a legacy of how to lead an area by example.”

“But it was never about him,” added Bob Haveman. “It was about teenagers hearing the story of Jesus.” 


YL Leader Weekend | 2011

“When you consider how many kids’ lives have been impacted because of Jay’s leadership, there is no doubt the kingdom of God has grown because of it,” shared Jane Lemmen, who was hired by Jay over ten years ago to lead YoungLives in Holland and currently directs YoungLives for the Midwest Division.

Authenticity and wisdom are attributes Jane appreciates about Jay. “He is someone who is willing to pray for you and is someone who welcomes being prayed for. His love for God, his wife, his family, as well as his service to Young Life, have all been a testimony to his relationship with Jesus and his commitment to loving God with all his heart, soul, mind, and strength and loving his neighbor as himself.”


Jay with Young Life Capernaum staff from the Midwest Division

“Jay’s legacy is his consistent, caring, and gentle moving of the Kingdom of God forward,” shared Chris Theule-VanDam, Regional Director for the Western Great Lakes Region.  “He is always thinking about the next step, the next leader to recruit and train, the next staff person to bring along, and ultimately the next kid to share the Gospel with. The other unique quality Jay has brought to Young Life’s mission is his love for the church. It’s natural for Jay to lead our Church Partner program and it’s a natural fit for Jay to go and serve his church at this time as well. We are thankful for Jay.”


Jay with Student Staff in Chicago.

Recently, on a fall weekend at Timber Wolf Lake, a group of YL Capernaum girls was asked by their leader to imagine what Jesus looked like. To get the conversation rolling, their leader Jeanne Page suggested that maybe Jesus had long hair, but she was soon interrupted: “Oh, no,” one girl spoke up. “Jesus doesn’t have any hair. He’s bald. He looks just like Jay Lindell.”

Jay, you have truly been the hands and feet of Christ to a countless many people. Your career in Young Life is an inspiration. YOU are an inspiration. Congratulations on 35 years of dedicated service to kids and to Christ! We thank God for you! 

>> An Invitation <<
Please join Greater Holland Young Life for an Open House to celebrate with Jay & Jeanne Lindell on Saturday, February 25 from 5:00-7:00pm at The Good Earth Restaurant in Holland.

>> A Gift that Keeps on Giving <<
With deep appreciation for all Jay & Jeanne have given to the Holland community, an endowed scholarship at the Holland/Zeeland Community Foundation will be set up which would send two Capernaum kids to Young Life camp every summer.

“Jay has made a tremendous impact in my life as a mentor, colleague, and friend. It was an incredible blessing to begin my ministry career with Jay in Holland. I could not have asked for a better person to play an instrumental role in my life as I stepped into the world of ministry as a 22-year-old kid who was ready to take on the world. To this day, Jay is one of the most trusted voices in my life and I am excited for him as he steps into the next season of ministry.”

—Joe Graham, the Multi-Site Director for Harbor Churches.

“Jay loves the Lord and he makes that clear. He’s been a great Area Director to work for because he firmly believes in the mission of introducing kids to Jesus and helping them grow in their faith. He’s always been great a casting a vision for the staff and keeping that in front of us but never telling us what to do and how to do it. He always leaves room for freedom and inspiration and I greatly appreciate the way he has led me.”

Kyle Raak, Greater Holland Young Life

“Jay has had a lasting impact on my life and the lives of many Young Life kids, leaders, community members, and other Young Life staff. He has shown what it looks like to have healthy boundaries with family and Young Life work, how to be graceful and thoughtful in decision making, and how to lead in a way that invites others to lead.”

Matt DeHoog, Associate Regional Director for Greater Grand Rapids

“Jay is steady, present and caring. He’s been a great example of humility and what it means to be a servant leader in Young Life and in his community.”

Kevin Eastway, Associate Regional Director, Western Great Lakes Region

“Jay, you have been a faithful servant, leader and friend for so many years in Holland. The city will never be the same because of you and what you have done. You are an inspiration to all of us!”

Jenna Perkins, Eastern Ottawa Young Life

“Congratulations on 35 years on YL staff. What a career you have had but mostly what a legacy you have left. Thank you so much for your investment in the next generation of Christian leaders as well as all the young high school students that you have ministered to in South Bend and in Holland. It was my privilege to have had a season with you as the Senior Vice President. I also want to say thank you to Jeanne. What a gift she has been to so many! Well done good and faithful servant!”

—Gail Ebersole, National Field Director at InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA

Jay and his wife Jeanne have been married for 34 years. They have three children; Zack and his wife Allie, Katie, and Jacob. Jay is a graduate of Hope College and Western Theological Seminary, an ordained minister in the Reformed Church in America (RCA) and teaches in the Studies in Ministry department of Hope College. Jay will continue overseeing Young Life’s Church Partnership program in the Western Great Lakes Region

Welcome Paul Knapp, Southwest Michigan’s New Area Director

High school football games. Dairy Queen stops after Young Life club. Sneaking out of the cabin after “lights out” for an important one-on-one. The smile on a kid’s face when the fireworks explode after the camp carnival. Watching a leader “get it” for the first time. Swaying to Free Fallin’ with friends during club at Fall Weekend. The smell of the cabin after four days at WyldLife camp.

These are a few of Paul Knapp’s favorite things.


Paul Knapp, smack dab in the middle of the student section.

Paul Knapp, the new Area Director for Southwest Michigan Young Life, was born in Traverse City, MI but has lived in Eagle River, Alaska before landing in the southwest corner of Michigan.

His college plans to study social work and become a counselor led him to attend Western Michigan University. It was during his sophomore year at WMU that Paul found himself inadvertently getting involved with Young Life.

As the story goes, Paul attended his first Young Life club one week and just had to go back the following week. Was it the fantastic music and club talk that drew him back? Perhaps. But, according to Paul, “It was the only place I knew how to get in touch with a certain leader who I may or may not have had a crush on. Four weeks later I asked that leader out for dinner after club. But she brought her roommate. Two years later, I married the roommate.” That roommate is now Paul’s wife, Allie.


Allie and Paul Knapp

Since that first club seven years ago, Paul has learned the in’s and out’s of Young Life. He’s been a volunteer leader, team leader, part-time Church Partner and Staff Associate. He’s worked at Young Life camp as Program Director, Work Crew Boss, Special Music for Winter Weekend and as a Summer Intern at Timber Wolf Lake. Mostly recently, Paul has served the Southwest Michigan area as Associate Area Director.


Paul (center) and the Program Team at Timber Wolf Lake

Recent transitions in Southwest Michigan Young Life created space for Paul to move into the role of Area Director. The position had previously been filled by thirteen-year veteran Mike Bredeweg, who has stepped into a new role for the Western Great Lakes Region as Associate Regional Director, working to start up new ministries throughout Southwest Michigan.

Paul has this dream for Young Life in Southwest Michigan: “I want kids, leaders, committee, parents, and staff to know that everyone—including themselves—plays a role in loving the world right again. I want them to know that all of us were created with purpose, goodness and beauty in mind, and that all of us get the opportunity to play a role in creating goodness and beauty in this world.”


Paul (center) with Young Life kids at Pictured Rocks

Young Life kids in Berrien County are already living out this greater love and purpose.

“My first year on full-time staff in SW Michigan I got to take Parker to Timber Wolf Lake,” shares Paul. “Parker had come to club a few times, but hadn’t really connected with any leaders. It was a big surprise when he signed up for camp. He was one of two kids from St. Joe High School that year to go to camp, and I anticipated it would be an initial struggle for him to build a connection with kids from other schools. But it wasn’t. I was so proud of those guys from Lakeshore High School who welcomed Parker into their group. It was the best week of all of their lives! It was such an honor to be a part of it. At the end of the week, Parker came up to me with tears in his eyes and said: Paul, I have never felt like I fit in anywhere in my life and now I finally feel like I belong! I still get goosebumps thinking about that moment.”

Join us in welcoming Paul Knapp as the new Area Director for Southwest Michigan Young LifeWe look forward to watching how God continues to work through their ministry to reach even more kids in Berrien County.


Paul touring with Static Cycle

PS: A few more of Paul’s favorite things include his two dogs, Layla and Tackle. Reading and drinking coffee at Clifford’s Coffee Canal in Benton Harbor. Playing beach volleyball and board games. Driving down country roads with the windows down and going to The Big House on Saturdays. Finding a new band and listening to every song they’ve ever written. Any of these favorite things paired with his wife Allie would top the charts!

PPS: One last thing you may not know about Paul is that he toured with a rock band called Static Cycle during the summer of 2008. He says, “I still fantasize about going back to that time and playing music again.”

Eric DeVries

WGLR PictureEric DeVries is one of our Regional WyldLife Champions working to improve middle school ministry around the region and providing resources, training and perspective to others doing WyldLife ministry. Ever since going to Castaway as a freshman in high school, Eric was hooked. What he loves most about Young Life is having a front row seat to watch caring adults partner with Jesus to transform kids lives forever. Eric is a WyldLife leader in the Eastern Ottawa Area and also serves as a Young Life Church Partner at Searchlight Ministries in Jamestown, MI. Eric lives in Jenison with his wife Lindsey. In his spare time he enjoys golfing, sailing, hanging out at the cottage, playing board games and watching U of M football.

Welcome Jack Droppers to Central Grand Rapids

We are pleased to highlight another Young Life staff member in the Western Great Lakes Region. Jack Droppers may be new to the position of Staff Associate II in Central Grand Rapids Young Life, but he isn’t new to Young Life in the region. He comes to Grand Rapids after pioneering Young Life in Muskegon for three years as Church Partner at Fellowship Church. Let’s take a moment to get to know Jack and welcome him into this new role.

Jack Droppers grew up in Orlando, FL and moved to Michigan to attend Hope College. He is married to Elizabeth, who is a Marriage and Family Therapist. They have two dogs: Bruce and June. They enjoy going to Lake Michigan and throwing sticks into the water for Bruce to fetch.

After graduating from Hope, Jack served as a Young Life Church Partner in Muskegon up until this Fall when he assumed a new role as Staff Associate for the Central Grand Rapids Area. He’ll work closely with Area Director Eric Boer to oversee six clubs and the leaders that lead those clubs.

“Jack has already hit the ground running hard,” commented Eric Boer. “Not only is he serving on our team at EGR High School, but he’s leading our team at GRC Middle School. We are very excited to have him, and word on the street is that he gets picked first when playing basketball with middle school students during lunch.”

Long before ending up on staff, Jack’s first taste of Young Life wasn’t exactly a hit. “I went to club once in high school and I hated it, partially because of my own pride and partially because of being embarrassed during club.” Years later, during his sophomore year at Hope, he took a youth ministry course with Jay Lindell. “Jay explained the history of Young Life and the goal of meeting kids on their turf and terms. The next year I was invited by my housemate Ryan to play guitar for club. Between that experience and Jay’s teaching, I was hooked.”

It’s a good thing Jack gave Young Life another chance. He discovered that Young Life is so much more than a program. It’s about people and relationships. “I love that Young Life leaders are not simply promoting an event or program but offering themselves just as Jesus’ offered himself.”

Jack’s favorite Young Life story is from the early days of ministry in Muskegon. When he first showed up at Oakridge Middle School to do contact work, he was determined to meet some guys. Instead, he recognized an 8th grader that went to his church and sat at her table of friends. “I asked them what they thought of that table of guys next to them. Those guys are idiots, they all replied. I walked over to that table and said, Those girls think you guys are idiots. Tell me why you’re not idiots. One of those guys was a kid I’ll call G, who ended up coming to WyldLife camp, Young Life Fall Weekend and Young Life camp with me. Although G has had a hard few years with his dad not in the picture and lives in his brother’s shadow, Young Life gave him a place where he was cared for, people who knew his first name, and ultimately an invitation to follow Jesus.”

When asked about his hopes for the area, Jack replied, “My hope is that our area would grow in our capacity to invite students into lifelong relationship with God. I believe we do that by growing our leadership teams, expanding our leadership teams in terms of racial/economic/gender diversity, and by creating partnerships with local colleges and churches.”

Please join us in welcoming Jack Droppers to this position and pray for him and for Young Life in the Central Grand Rapids Area to grow and thrive.

You can follow Jack on twitter here and Central Grand Rapids on facebook here. And if you have 22 minutes to spare, you can learn a lot more about Jack by watching this video.

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