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November 2023

Moving from One Stage to Another

For several months now, Young Life Toronto has been in the midst of a big transition from a "research and networking" stage to the "operating" stage. With Becky and me being new to Canada, and Young Life being new to Toronto, it was necessary for us to spend time learning about the city of Toronto, getting to know people, and becoming familiar with what God is already up-to in and around Toronto. This research and networking stage yielded rich friendships and some growing insights into the needs of at least some kids in this amazing city.

As we shared the vision of Young Life, made friends, and invited these friends to join the conversation, it became possible to start to do the work of recruiting, training, and deploying staff and volunteers to reach young people in the city.

These efforts are the initial phases of the operating stage of ministry Some

  • Hiring Edith as our first staff worker on June 1.

  • Forming our Advisory Board in mid-June.

  • Commencing our first Young Life Leader Training Class in August.

  • Gathering for the first time with teenagers from Danforth and Midtown on

  • September 16.

  • Deploying our first volunteer leaders in late September.

  • Searching for a City Administrator to support the work of area staff and

  • volunteers.

  • Bringing a group of 15 from Toronto to the Ontario Leaders Weekend in

  • November.

Some of these things you have read about in previous newsletters, and some of these markers are highlighted in this month's newsletter. I am reminded of one of my favourite parables of Jesus in Mark 4:

“How can we picture God’s kingdom? What kind of story can we use? It’s like an acorn. When it lands on the ground it is quite small as seeds go, yet once it is planted it grows into a huge oak tree with thick branches. Eagles nest in it.” Mark 4:30-32 (MSG)

When the acorn is planted, much of the growth at first is under the ground. And then a sapling slowly starts to emerge. If we are honest ourselves, the entire process is a bit mysterious. We know the conditions under which the acorn will become a tree, and we can work to create those conditions. But we don't control the growth process. We can only cooperate with it. That is what we are seeking to do as we grow a team that will "go after" and "come alongside" teenagers in the name of Jesus.


Toronto Friends Attend Young Life Leadership Camp in Muskoka

From November 3-5, 15 guests from Toronto joined 65 other Young Life staff and leaders from Ontario for our annual Leader Weekend. Our team learned about reaching young people from experienced Young Life staff, and built connections with others who share a heart for young people. And although the retreat was held at Camp Medeba (not a Young Life camp), the weekend was structured to emulate the Young Life camp experience. There was plenty of laughter, a commitment to excellence, and time to build lasting relationships, have meaningful conversations, and a chance to encounter Jesus. It was rewarding to watch our first-time guests have a camp experience that was like what a teenager experiences when they go to Young Life camp for the first time.

Here is a reflection from Trevor, one of our first-time guests:

"On behalf of myself and Octavia, I am writing to thank you for the invitation to the Young Life leaders weekend and also for the warm welcome and hospitality during the whole weekend. Personally, I felt like a teenager again, I got to play all the games I love that brought back good memories of my teenage experiences. Kudos Glenn for making me forget that I am in my late 30s during the wiffle hockey game. I know that both of us are delighted with the experience and looking forward to seeing you at the next leaders training." It is often said that "Young Life is better caught than taught."

This weekend was significant because our new and learning leaders experienced Young Life being both caught and taught.


Snapshots of Young Life in Toronto

Clockwise, starting in the upper left corner:

  • Liam and Amy, our newest volunteer leaders on our Midtown/Don Valley

  • Team.

  • Edith brunching it up with two young people along The Danforth.

  • Playing "Wiffle Hockey" (a YL original sport) with kids at North Toronto C.I.

  • field in Midtown.

  • Participants in our Leadership Training Class.


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