Archived Story

New Christian youth program, learning center coming to Austin

Published 10:28am Friday, December 13, 2013

Youth for Christ, an organization set on helping young people with both faith and everyday life problems, has big plans in Austin.

The organization has been eyeing a 5,200-square-foot building within one block of Austin High School to run a drop-in center where youth can learn about Christ, along with other responsible, positive life choices. A full-time director would be on staff to oversee the building and operations, but the program would mainly be run with help from adult and youth volunteers. With building and operations costs, though, South Central Minnesota YFC is campaigning for $225,000 by Feb. 15, 2014, according to YFC officials. A $100,000 payment would potentially purchase the building, and $125,000 would cover operations costs for the first year.

The South Central chapter currently has locations in Albert Lea; Lake Mills, Iowa; Mountain Lake and another startup in St. James.

At banquets and meetings in Albert Lea, YFC officials have routinely heard that people in Austin want a program. Some Austin youth have already been using the Albert Lea facility, according to South Central Minnesota YFC city-life director Rick Miller in Albert Lea.

“For years, we’ve had people, at will, walk through our building in Albert Lea, or will be a guest at our banquet or fundraising banquet, and the one constant we hear is, ‘Why don’t we have one in Austin?’” Miller said.

Miller wanted to clear the misconception that YFCs may “steal” youth from their hometown churches.

In fact, he says the YFC operation is meant to partner with local churches and bolster their efforts.

“Part of our mission statement is working together with the local church,” Miller said. “One of our biggest things is we want to try to reach the kids that aren’t getting reached by the church, and then get them connected with a local church.

“We want all the churches to understand that we are not in competition for kids,” he added. “We want to lift up the local church. We want to partner with them; and we want the ‘un-church kids’ to have relationships with the kids and the staff from the churches, so they have a reason to go to church.”

While an Austin location wouldn’t automatically offer all YFC programs off the bat, the focus would be the City Life model, in which youth receive instruction on things like civic and economic literacy, basic health, safety, and relationships. For example, YFC sometimes sends youth to camps where they learn leadership abilities. Through a scholarship, a student can attend a camp, where he or she will work toward the value of that scholarship.

Miller isn’t sure when the Austin YFC could be operational. Steering committee meetings have been ongoing the third Tuesday of each month. The next meeting will be 7 p.m. next Tuesday at the Living Bible Church in Austin. Furthermore, plenty more adult volunteers are needed, for both the building committee and operating the drop-in center. The more volunteers, the more often the building would be able to remain open.

YFC is entirely run by donations.

“We do not take state or federal money because we will not bite our tongue in sharing Christ,” Miller said. “We are not willing to do that.”

Those who would like to donate to the organization or find more information may call 507-373-1015 or visit scmycm.org.

 


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