Western Great Lakes Young Life

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Category: Greater Holland YL

Greater Holland Young Life’s New Area Director Is “All In”

Screen Shot 2017-05-04 at 10.35.52 AMJust over a month after being hired as the new Area Director for Greater Holland Young Life, Chris Hofland was feeling the love and welcome from local high schoolers at club one night as they happily decked their new AD in the face with pie.

Thankfully, Young Life’s crazy club antics aren’t new to Chris. He’s been on board with the mission of Young Life ever since he was a high school student himself who went to club and earn his way to camp by painting a YL leader’s house.

Chris, who grew up as a pastor’s kid, says that Young Life helped reinforce the importance of having a relationship with Jesus Christ and inspired him to share his faith with others.

“In my adult years I’ve been able to volunteer as a head leader at fall weekends as well as flip pancakes for WyldLife,” said Chris, a Hope College graduate who has called Holland his home since moving from Iowa at the age of five.

Chris is well-suited as Area Director in Greater Holland Young Life not just because he can take a pie in the face or flip pancakes for hungry middle schoolers.

His knowledge of the community, strong network, and passion for building authentic relationships will be a great asset to a Young Life area which holds the record as the largest YL area in the world.

“I would not be in this position if Young Life was not rooted in relational ministry,” shared Chris. “Young Life provides space for eternal relationships to be developed as we introduce kids to the incredible truth of Jesus Christ and invite them to see how to live it out. Young Life truly is an authentic place for discipleship whether you are a student, leader, or staff member.”

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Those who know Chris speak of his engaging personality which creates enthusiasm and energy wherever he goes and in whatever he does.

Jerry and Dana Root, long-time Holland Young Life supporters who have known Chris for many years, are excited to see how God will use him in this new season of leadership. They shared this: “His mission-minded heart will inspire Holland area Young Life to grow into new ways of being used for God’s Kingdom.”

The Greater Holland Young Life Committee wrote this in an announcement made to their area last month:

“Chris has a great love for Christ, an extensive history of teaching, coaching and ministering to youth. We are excited to have Chris on staff and look forward to his leadership.”

Chris’s array of work experience includes teaching for Holland Public Schools and then serving as Local Missions Pastor at Central Wesleyan Church, among other community involvement. These experiences have more than equipped him for this new role.

“Both of these roles have given me access to falling in love with our community and developing meaningful relationships,” Chris reflected.

Dr. Brian Davis, Superintendent of Holland Public Schools, commented: “He has demonstrated the servant heart and character needed for a position such as this. As a former educator, he also understands the critical importance of building relationships, mentoring and supporting young adults to be successful in school and in life. Filling the shoes of Jay Lindell who has held this position for 25 years is a big responsibility. It is important that we have someone who can carry forward the mission and service of this very important work.”

Chris’s servant heart is a common theme from those who know him. And the fact that he is “all in” when it comes to serving the Lord with his life and work. His dynamic faith and passion are an inspiration for others to be “all in” too.

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Greater Holland Young Life Club

“My prayer is for each student to hear the truth of the gospel and experience a transformed life,” shared Chris. “And for leaders to see how their faith journeys are most impacted through living out their faith through discipling students.”

“My heart gets excited about being part of the lives of students being transformed by the incredible gospel of Jesus Christ. Seeing lives changed is powerful.”

Please join us in welcoming Chris Hofland as Area Director for Greater Holland Young Life. We are thrilled to have him join the Young Life staff here in the Western Great Lakes Region.

Hofland Family

Chris and his wife Susan and the proud parents to their crew of kids: Trent (20), Logan (17), Grant (16), Lauren (10), Carter (8), and Owen (5). Fun facts: Chris love pickles and was adopted as an infant. Favorite things: spending time with family, playing golf, coaching soccer and cheering for the Iowa Hawkeyes (Yes, even in Michigan).

Remember at WyldLife Winter Weekend When…

This camp story was written and shared by Mady Riedlinger. Mady is a student at Hope College and a WyldLife Leader at West Ottawa in the Greater Holland Area.


Something incredibly special happens every time I go to camp with my middle school friends. And WyldLife Winter Weekend was full of very special moments.

From the first step onto the bus, the energy was up, the Holy Spirit was present, and the bonding began.

And we're off! Timber Wolf Lake, here we come!

A post shared by Greater Holland Young Life (@younglifeholland) on

Camp has a way of allowing us to become more in touch with the people God created us to be by unplugging from our phones and tuning into intentional conversations and countless games of gaga ball. Camp teaches me about the power of presence and opens my eyes to the numerous ways in which God is already at work.

Winter Weekend was where middle schoolers and leaders came together and experienced the power of the Gospel through incredible speakers, programs, and daily actions of forgiveness and grace. We got the real and raw version of each kid and leader in those cabins, and that is where we saw the Lord work in the hearts of each middle schooler that had the opportunity to attend.

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West Ottawa WyldLife Girls and Leaders

Our camp speaker, Cesar Castillejos, brought the Word to us in transformative ways and provided tangible examples of God’s love and forgiveness. His countless visuals relating to scripture brought new life to the stories that some of our kids have heard over and over. He challenged kids and leaders alike to identify our sin and unplug ourselves from the non-lifegiving sources of identity that we so often think give us life, but don’t.

We dug deep in cabin talks, revealing the struggles we face related to identity and sin. And of course, there were tears. The Black Bear cabin without a doubt came away with new revelations of God’s tangible love for us all, and how God continually calls us to follow and embrace Him even when we doubt.

We left camp with softened hearts, tired eyes, full stomachs, and sore muscles from a variety of winter and gym activities—all signs of a Winter Weekend experienced fully.

Although I love Timber Wolf Lake, I think my favorite part about Winter Weekend is what happens when we get home. Many of our conversations start with “Remember at camp when…” and we continue to strengthen the bonds we have formed. We don’t want that “camp high” to fade and therefore continue to remind one another of the good times and good talks we had.

Winter Weekend was incredible. God blessed every single second of our time together, and I am confident that He continues to bless our conversations reflecting on His unconditional love. Winter Weekend allowed many doors to be open to conversations about who we are and how we are loved by the King of Kings. God bless Timber Wolf Lake, and praise be to Jesus for West Ottawa WyldLife.

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“Winter Weekend, oh how we miss it already!”

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?

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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.”

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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.” 

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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.”

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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.”

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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

Why We Do Campaigners

Seven decades ago a group of Young Life kids in Gainesville, Texas wanted to dig deeper into what it means to be disciples of Christ. They wanted a space to pray for their school and discuss ways to reach more of their friends through club. They referred to themselves the Young Life Campaign.  

Over time they changed their name to Campaigners.

Young Life’s mission is to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and help them grow in faith. That’s what we’re about. Introducing kids to Jesus happens mostly through contact work, club and camp. Campaigners then is the natural follow-up and focuses on helping kids grow in faith.

In Part 4 of our series on the 5 C’s of Young Life, guest writer Becca Kolarczyk, a volunteer leader from Greater Holland Young Life, shares about why she does Campaigners.


When I first entered into the Young Life community, I began to hear people talk about Campaigners and had absolutely no clue what they were talking about.

Campaigners? What are we campaigning for?

I soon learned that it is the term we use for our students who want to dig deeper into their faith and into the Bible.

It is a place for students to have the chance to grow and mature in their faith. Campaigners can look different depending on the students being reached. We can be found in coffee shops in the early morning, in leaders’ houses in the evenings or whatever space and time works best for all who are involved.

Campaigners QuoteCampaigners is a beautiful community of students and leaders, growing and actively seeking God together. [Tweet this.]

The heart of Campaigners is God’s Word. We read it, digest it, make sense of it and look at how our story is found within the pages of God’s Story.

We address certain topics and troubles in students’ lives through the Word. At times we may pull from other books or devotionals, but that is only to supplement the Bible and the topics and stories we are looking at. We often look to the Gospels and to the stories of Jesus.

Looking at the Bible as a story and guide to our lives allows students to see themselves in these stories and is far more useful than an old, removed text. Our aim is to give students the tools to see God’s Story and their story completely interwoven and take this knowledge into their everyday lives.

It can often be difficult to find the best way to go about structuring Campaigners so that it is applicable and beneficial for both students and leaders. I want to share some pointers that have helped us improve this time spent with students:

  • Know your students and their hearts. We as leaders need to be praying for our students and for God to reveal what they need because each group of kids is unique.
  • Collaborate with the other leaders and students. Listen to each other, take suggestions, bounce ideas off one another to help each other see and understand the Gospel.
  • Both large group and small group time is importantThe large group allows for community building and sharing. The small group allows for intimate conversations and less pressure when discussing scripture, text or a testimony.
  • Grow and keep discovering. Challenge the students to grow and want to keep discovering more about Christ and how we can all lead a more Christ-like life with one another.
  • Allow time to reflect, pray and be still with GodWhether that is listening to a worship song, journaling or time spent in prayer. We often forget to take the time to stop and be still and planning for this can show the students just how important it is to have this time with God.

I am continually amazed by the wisdom of my girls. I went into Young Life with the expectation of helping high school students, befriending them and being with them in their walk with Christ. What has blown me away is how much they have taught me just by being exactly who they are.

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I have laughed, cried, shared stories, played pranks, prayed, listened and grown with these students. The safe space in club and Campaigners for the students, my fellow leaders, and myself to experience and grow in Christ together is something I cherish and am so incredibly grateful for.

Young Life continues to challenge us to grow, stretch and expand our hearts and minds, to live intentionally together in Christ and to know Christ’s love which conquered death and sin. We learn how to lead more Christ-like lives and that God continues to make all things new for each one us. We learn that in Christ we are enough.

My hope is that students and leaders can walk away from Young Life Campaigners knowing that they are found in Christ and that they carry that with them for the rest of their lives.

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. —Colossians 3:15-17


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Becca Kolarczyk is a volunteer Young Life leader at Black River Public School in Holland, MI who walks with students in their faith journey and digs into God’s Word right alongside them. Thanks, Becca, for sharing the story of how Campaigners has impacted you.


Read other articles in this series: Why We Do Contact Work, Why We Do Club, and Why We Do Camp.

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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.

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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.