One of our goals for this blog is to shine a bright light on the lives and ministries of Young Life leaders in all corners of the world by sharing their powerful stories to inspire you to #GoSeeEngage! Enjoy our first post highlighting one of the many volunteers across the mission.
“Puedes hablar un poco mas despacio, por favor?”
I received somewhere between 10-20 calls from Yancarlo during the time we were in Arequipa, Peru, and every time he called, I had to ask him to slow down. I am nearly fluent in Spanish, but it was difficult for me to understand him at the pace he spoke.
But that was Yancarlo. He spoke quickly because he had something say, but also somewhere to be — and he was excited about both.
Yancarlo is a volunteer leader for Young Life in Arequipa, and he is literally a one-man band. Young Life doesn’t start with a program. It starts with adults, like Yancarlo, who are concerned enough about kids to go to them, on their turf and in their culture, building bridges of authentic friendship. These relationships don’t happen overnight — they take time, patience, trust and consistency. Kids’ lives are dramatically influenced when caring adults come alongside them, sharing God’s love with them. Because their Young Life leader believes in them, they begin to see that their lives have great worth, meaning and purpose.
Yancarlo mentors and disciples several college-age students who help him in contacting, connecting, and befriending high school students in Arequipa. He plays guitar and speaks about the Word of God with confidence, and he has such charisma that teenagers are simply drawn to him. They see something different in him. He says he has a job in construction, but I didn’t understand how he had so much disposable time–and he gave every minute of it to the ministry of Young Life. Like the majority of Young Life leaders around the world, Yancarlo is not a paid Young Life staff member: he is simply a volunteer, making an incredible difference.
Yancarlo found out about Young Life when he was a high school teacher, and he began volunteering because he saw the impact Young Life had on the students around him. For so many teenagers, adults feel far off and distant; Yancarlo loves Young Life because it is an opportunity for adults to befriend teens and break down those walls. He has helped start Young Life in several private Christian schools in Arequipa and has started to make connections with a local public school.
I had the opportunity to get to know him and work alongside him for a week in Arequipa, and I was constantly amazed at his grace, and his willingness to give all he had–his time, resources, and money–for the sake of building the Kingdom. We had the opportunity to join them for their first Young Life club for students at the public school, and it was incredible to see Yancarlo in action. Yancarlo also gave me the opportunity to share with some of the teachers about Young Life and the impact it had on my life when I was involved in high school. Standing beside him and listening to Yancarlo share about Young Life and hearing his passion for these kids was inspiring, and I could see the teachers catching his vision as he spoke.
Yancarlo is truly an unsung hero, as cliché as that may sound. Even when he talked too fast for me to understand, I knew it was because the Lord was whispering exciting truths about His growing Kingdom in Arequipa, and he couldn’t contain it.
Written by: Kate Campbell