Young Life, Tyler

This summer Johnny Russell learned God can work through a Snickers bars and bald eagles.

He decided to take seven of his friends, who happen to be freshly graduated high school seniors, on a discipleship and kayaking trip in Canada, British Columbia. They traveled nine days—six spent on the water, paddling about 65 miles in total.

“The first morning we were there…I just opened up the word to Psalm 29: ‘The Lord’s voice is over the water’” he said. “That was my prayer, that these boys would hear the Lord’s voice…all of them really said that’s what they desire.”

Each day the group would wake up, eat breakfast and head straight for the water. They paddled for about an hour and a half, had a snack and then paddled another hour and a half before lunch.

“You’re not eating tons of food, and so any food you get, it’s just always perfect,” Johnny described.

Preparing for a long-awaited snack break, Johnny and all the boys pulled their kayaks together. They all cheered when they saw the contents of their snack—a Snickers bar.

“It sounds outrageous, but it was perfect,” he said. “We are all sitting there in silence eating this snickers bar, as crazy as it sounds, two bald eagles fly right over us and perch on this tree.”

One of the guys, who struggled with his faith, saw the eagles and became teary-eyed.

“I don’t know what it was, but I felt like the Lord was there and the Lord was present saying ‘I’ve got this. My son is wayward, but I’m in charge,”” he said reflecting on the moment.

The trip served as a memorable ending to the three years Johnny, Tyler Young Life area director, had walked through life with his Young Life boys.

The Canada trip was just the beginning of the ministry Johnny and the volunteer team did this summer. A volunteer leader took six middle school students to Wyldlife camp, three volunteer leaders took 17 students to Colorado for a Wilderness trip, Johnny served as camp speaker at Frontier Ranch, and 50 students went to camp at Frontier.

Young Life strives to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and helping them grow in their faith.

“We want to be intentional about pursuing middle school and high school students for the sake of the gospel—those who are disinterested in who Jesus is,” Johnny said.

Tyler Young Life was established in 1942, but the ministry of Young Life is worldwide. Each area is largely composed of volunteers. Tyler Young Life has about 20-25 volunteers and now has two full-time staff members. Julie Gibson, Wyldlife coordinator, joined the area in August.

If you’re interested in supporting the ministry of Tyler Young Life, there are three ways to get involved: becoming a volunteer leader, serving as a committee member, or becoming a donor.

For more information, email younglifetyler@gmail.com.