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  • Writer's pictureThe Eagle

Monday Night Lights--YoungLife Keeps the Faith

Updated: Nov 24, 2020

Senior Hunter Hooper, left, and Freshman Alena Brunnelson, center, face off in a competitive game of Cheeto Beards during Club while YoungLife Area Director/Leader Holly Zabloski oversees the contest. (Courtesy Photo)
YoungLife Leader Ross Zabloski shares a story from the Bible with the group. (Courtesy Photo)

By Emma Duncan--Eagle Staff Writer

For the past five years, YoungLife has been a safe space for senior Emily Egenberg. In this time of uncertainty, she needs that feeling of comfort and belonging more than anything.

“YoungLife has had such a large impact on me,” said Egenberg. “It’s how I started to feel accepted and confident, and how I made friends. Younglife truly turned my life around for the better.”

Franklin County YoungLife Area Director and Leader Holly Zabloski understands how much this club means to Egenberg and her peers. So, she and her fellow leaders have continued meeting with and teaching students since the pandemic hit, just in a non-traditional way.

“We’ve shifted our focus to our roots: simply being in the lives of teens and meeting one-on-one or in small, socially distant groups. Our Clubs are being held in our backyard or at a family's carport when it rains,” stated Zabloski.

However, the pandemic put in-person activities on hold for some time.

“When COVID started in March, we had to shut off events for two weeks, which later evolved into the semester,” Eagle alum and now-leader Andrew Robertson explained. “We did our best on short notice to transition into virtual Clubs, game nights, hangouts, etc., but it wasn’t the same.”

Even though in-person meetings weren’t possible for a while, students didn’t seem to mind as long as YoungLife could be together.

“I miss seeing the students getting together in the cafeteria, but I love being able to learn the Gospel with people close to me,” said senior Colton Richardson.

Like Richardson, Egenberg was thankful to be with her friends. Still, she agreed with Robertson that Zoom meetings became a pain.

“Zoom was hard on everyone,” said Egenberg. “I’m thankful we now have Campaigners and Club in person.”

Club events resemble a party. Folks come together to sing, dance, play games, and even learn, in a God-centered environment. Campaigners focuses more on Bible study. Leaders work to help students grow in their faith by reading and explaining the Bible, hoping to make it more relatable. They also encourage members to go out and share the Gospel with others.

“Club is so much fun to be at and participate in. At the end of the night, there’s a 'Club Talk' where, for about 5-10 minutes, the leader who’s giving it that night talks about Jesus and a story relating to their life," said Robertson. “Campaigners is still fun, don’t get me wrong, but it takes a deeper dive into the Bible compared to Club.”

Club and Campaigners gatherings used to occur indoors, but as stated earlier by Zabloski, these meetings have moved outdoors to meet Covid precautions. Egenberg explained some of the things YoungLife is doing to further protect students.

“We wear masks and socially distance the best we can,” said Egenberg. “I think YoungLife has done a great job at making sure we’re safe. Just like everyone else, we’re learning what works best and what flops.”

To the leaders, there haven't been many flops.

“I’m very delighted with how things are turning out,” stated Robertson. “The students have really stepped up to help keep everything fun, safe, and enjoyable.”

Senior Jaden Bernard is one of those students.

“Taking our temperatures takes no time at all, and wearing a mask is perfectly fine, especially since we get tie-dyed YoungLife ones,” said Bernard. “While this situation is not ideal, I’m willing to take these precautions in order to have fun and share love with my friends at Club.”

No matter how many precautions YoungLife takes, there’s no guarantee they can keep meeting.

“If numbers continue to rise in Franklin County, we’ll have to shut down entirely as we did in March,” said Zabloski. “We’re incredibly lucky compared to other areas, but if that changes, I know we'd find creative ways to reach kids. YoungLife at its core is about relationships, so this hasn't stopped us from caring and showing up for kids.”

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