We are thrilled to introduce the newest member to the Western Great Lakes Regional YL Team—Mike Bredeweg. Mike is our new Associate Regional Director for Southwest Michigan. He is no stranger to the Southwest Michigan Area, having previously served as Area Director there for thirteen years.
We asked Mike a few questions so you could get to know him a little better. See what he had to say below…
Mike, when did you first get involved with Young Life?
The first thing I ever did with Young Life was go to camp the summer between my Sophomore and Junior year; that was the summer of 1983. I had heard my friend Todd Brooks tell me how much fun he had at camp the summer before. I decided that I wanted to go. I still have life-long friends from that first trip. That next year I got in involved in club and Campaigners.
Can you tell us a little about your family?
I have been married to Lynda for 22 years. We actually met at Castaway while we were both on assignment. She was a head leader and I was a work crew boss. She works as a Social Worker at a local hospital and also is a counselor at a practice near us. We have three kids: Noah is a sophomore at Calvin College, Hannah is a senior in High School, and Sam is in 8th grade. We have been very involved as a family in Young Life. Lynda helped start the Capernaum club in our area and Noah and Hannah have both been WyldLife leaders. Sam actually got to be on Program Team for our 2015 Leadership Weekend as a 7th grader.
What will you do as the Associate Regional Director for Southwest Michigan?
Great question! I am helping to start Young Life in new communities. I will be specializing in working with smaller communities that will probably never have a full-time staff person. We are working together in these towns to identify the key people and resources that can help us start Young Life ministry in their town. I am also trying to work with communities that have a culturally diverse population. I believe that if we can involve adults that best represent the demographics of the kids we are trying to reach, we can better develop a ministry that will more effectively reach a wider group of kids. It has been fun to see who God is calling to live out their lives reaching kids and connecting them to Jesus.
What do you love most about Young Life?
I love that people are drawn closer to Jesus. Kids are drawn to Jesus as they are introduced to him and learn what it means to follow him. Adults grow closer to Jesus as they trust him enough to step out of their boxes and be faithful to reach out to others. I am drawn closer to Jesus as I hear the stories of others and I have to put my faith into action and trust God beyond my fear.
Tell us about one of your favorite Young Life stories.
I have been doing this a long time! I have enough stories to fill an entire book. It is really hard to pick a favorite. I love seeing lives changed. I am very grateful for the chance to take my family down to Nicaragua and be involved with Young Life for a couple weeks there. It reminded me of the beautiful simplicity of this ministry. I saw leaders set up a couple soccer nets and a sound system in an open field in Matagalpa and the next thing you know, hundreds of kids come pouring down to the field. As I heard the stories of kids, so many of them talked about Jesus giving them a purpose in their lives. So many people feel like they have no purpose and nothing to contribute to the world around them. It is one of my favorite stories because I saw an incredible change in some of my favorite people in the world…my family.
It’s evident that you love Young Life, but what else do you love to do?
Two things that I love to do are counter-productive. 1) I love to ride my bike in the summer. It is the best way in the world to see things at a perfect pace. It is not as slow as running and you miss too much by car. I have discovered that I love the same thing about checking out the world by kayak. I get to see familiar places in a new light and go places I have never gone before. 2) I love to go out to eat with people and talk. This is the part that works against the biking and kayaking, but it sure is not going to stop me from enjoying great friends and great food.
What is a little-known fact about you?
I love to dance.