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Youth For Christ
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Vision: noun
1. The act or power of sensing; sight
2. The act or power of anticipating that which will or may come to be


Doing a Google search for “homeless” results in many gritty pictures of apparently street involved individuals, some holding politically motivated signs, others simply staring grimly into the distance. The common theme in all the images, though, is how utterly, breathtakingly alone each individual is. While many of these images are as desperate as they appear, they do not provide a full vision of modern homelessness. London Youth For Christ is seeking to spread that full vision.

Those who remember Youth For Christ (YFC) from days gone by will recall that it was a school-based program of evangelism and discipleship. These days it is far more difficult to bring a traditional Christian based program into the schools, and in fact, many of the demographics have changed.

Definitions of "home" include a place of refuge or a place where one's domestic affections are centered. In light of these views of home, "homeless" would include those who are marginalized or disenfranchised in their own homes. It would include those from homes in which there are inadequate supports. It would even include those church kids who are walking away from the faith. It is all of these homeless that YFC looks to meet in community. In view of these definitions many of us have been homeless.

"We strive to bring the hope of Christ through relationships, words, and serving community," says James Coolidge, Executive Director of YFC. "Jesus sent the 72 out into the community and that is what we do."

While methodology may look cutting edge with an emphasis on community rather than evangelism only, the faith behind it is solidly out of Isaiah 61 (v 1-3):

"The Spirit of the Lord [a]God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the [b]afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And [c]freedom to prisoners;
2 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord
And the day of vengeance of our God;
To comfort all who mourn,
3 To grant those who mourn in Zion,
Giving them a garland instead of ashes,
The oil of gladness instead of mourning,
The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting
So they will be called [d]oaks of righteousness,
The planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified."


While YFC still goes to several neighbourhood schools to do intramurals at lunchtime and after school coaching, they have an almost bewildering number of avenues in which they meet people where they are. Basketball leagues, tutoring in community centers, after school programs, family day events, summer day camps, and the mobile youth center (known as Streetlight) are all facets of this community.

"We recently ran a youth program in which we taught Christian principles, and started to get calls from parents. The parents said that the kids were coming home and asking them questions they had no answer for. We asked if they wanted us to do an Alpha program to help them with those answers, and they said they would like that, so we ran one for around 15 parents. Many of these families had never engaged with a faith community before."

At a recent conference Bill Hybels, in discussing the intangibles of leadership, described the "white hot why." This is the thing that drives a leader to lead, gives him his vision, and pushes him to continue at almost any cost. I asked James what his “white hot why” was at YFC. With tears in his eyes he replied:

"So that kids will literally see Jesus and run to Him knowing they are loved."

There are several ways that you can support London Youth For Christ's vision for building community in our city. One is by joining them for the Ironman Golf challenge on September 28. Details can be found at http://yfclondon.com/2015-ironman-golf-challenge/. Another is by attending the Fall Banquet. Details can be found at http://yfclondon.com/home-for-dinner-banquet-2015/ or call (519) 686-0093.