It’s funny…but when I wrote my original post, Is Young Life A Cult?, I had no idea how much interest and activity it would generate on this blog. It eventually led me to start my secondary blog, Young Life Watch, to serve as a single resource for anyone wishing to know more or discuss Young Life.
Another recent trend, has been a lot of comments from Young Life leaders (past and present) that think its unfair that I even raise questions about Young Life’s methods. Many say that Young Life does not hide it’s agenda and that any parent can find out for themselves what Young Life is really about….
But in the midst, there are real families that are forever changed when their teen gets involved with Young Life.
One of those parents shared a letter they wrote to their adult son and I’d like to share it here as well. You can see Don’s orignal comments here.
Here is a letter I wrote to my son. It would not surprise me if others can seriously relate to it in many aspects.
As I said in the text, I was not worried about the 60,000 kids that were in Atlanta. I am only worried about you and how your progression into adulthood seems to have been hampered by your participation in YL activities on a regular basis.
It baffles me as to how you can support an organization with members that bash or have bashed your brother and sister on a regular basis because they choose to not be involved in it. It seems to me that the members of such a Christian organization would be respectful of another person’s wishes and feelings and be understanding of them. Do you ever wonder if their choice to NOT participate in it is because of how they have seen it change you or other kids they have known and the decisions you have made based on YL or based on the fact that they regularly see how these members harass people that choose to not participate? You left our house because of YL. There is no denying it. You did not like our concerns and you ran straight to the house of a YL member. Now, you still live there despite their son having moved out? Does it ever bother you that you have never shown us where you live or the fact that we do not even know where you live and who you live with other than by name? This really concerns me in the event of an emergency. Does it bother you that at the age of almost 21, you do not have a place you can show us as yours? Does it ever strike you as odd that those parents would allow you to stay there after their own son has moved out? This is not healthy for you. How much do you pay in rent or groceries or other household stuff? I am fairly certain it is little to none. In that case, how much have you saved towards getting your own place then? It has been 15 months and I know you are no closer to that today than you were the day you chose to leave. What are you going to do/have when their graciousness runs out? I see you doing this and it makes me wonder if I raised you wrong. It looks like you are a moocher that just sucks off of other people to get the easy way through life. You do not want to work hard to get anything and you feel as if you are entitled to the nice things you have. You have never had to work hard for anything you have and I guess that is my fault.
Please do not get my dislike/concern for the YL organization as a dislike for you wanting to live a Godly life. Nothing could be further from the truth. I am in full support of you if you choose to live like that and I always have been. My concern is the “material” approach to life you’re your YL/religious lifestyle seems to revolve around. Everything about it, that I have seen, is based on the “coolness” or “niceness” of a place/thing. Look at Atlanta (Hyatt hotel downtown), your camps (Rockbridge, Lake Champion, Crooked Creek, etc). They are all held at beautiful locations but have astronomic attendance costs. I know many kids get scholarships but that is just a way for them to maintain their “awesome” status. I am remembering $600 and up and I am certain it increases every year. I bet some are over $800 now. All of the kids I see involved in YL are always dressed to the nines with the newest styles and coolest shoes, cars, etc. I do not recall Jesus needing stuff like that. He was a very basic man (robes and slippers) and chose to let his actions define Him. Am I correct? How come a YL camp never involves a trip to somewhere desolate, destitute, and/or downtrodden? These trips to “lead teens to Jesus” always involve getting the wealthy teens, as opposed to those in more dire situations that may need it more than anyone. I think it is because NO ONE in YL, from top to bottom, can relate to anyone in a situation like that. Does YL ever talk about tithing? Or do they just worry about how much people can give to them so they can continue their ministry? I see links to give to them all over their websites but no real mention of what should be happening in the church. All of this lavishness flashes me back to the Jim Bakker scandal of the late 80’s. I’d recommend you Google that phrase and see what comes up.
Why is it that whenever I talk about these concerns you have NEVER been able to even SEE/HEAR my side of it? It instantly becomes an argument because you think there is NO WAY I can be right on this and you sit there with a disgusted look on your face like you are annoyed or inconvenienced by my thoughts. Why do these “leaders” or regional directors/area directors have to be involved in everything? I was only nice to that leader guy because we were in public. He has no idea what I wanted to say to him but I know you can imagine. It is very strange, to me, that these 35-45+ year old guys want to hang with groups of guys your age. If you ask me, it is because it is their job to make sure no one that disagrees with YL has a chance to get you to see what is actually happening. I guess their plan is working as they want it because that is exactly what is happening. You never want to hear it. A perfect example of this was the other night when we were texting. All you wanted me to do was watch a live stream of what was going on and hearing “your favorite artist”. You did not even reply that you would read my email to you. It was all about what I needed to do to “see what you were doing there”. Do you know how many times you have told me that? It is the exact response I get EVERY time I say anything about how I feel about it. You actually pleaded with me.
YL has had a direct impact on how much you work. I cannot figure out how you manage to maintain a job despite how much time you are able to take off for these activities. There is fall weekend, the summer camp and the Atlanta thing (even though it is not a direct YL happening) this past weekend. I know that since your first job, many of your jobs have been given to you through a connection to YL so maybe that is how and no one there cares as long as it is because of a YL activity. It amazes me that you continue to pass up opportunities to work full time hours so that you can attend their functions. This Atlanta thing REALLY confounded me. You had just gone to your mom’s for 5 days unpaid and then you throw on top of that another 3-5 days unpaid to go there. How do you function with that much unpaid time off? I cannot grasp it for the life of me.
I wish I could explain to you how heartbroken and distraught I have become over this. I have lost my son and I am scared (but basically have seen enough to know) he is never coming back. I hope you get that and understand that and that you care. I have told you what my other feelings are on it. I cannot be around you and have you involved in it because every time you participate in a YL activity I get nauseous and angry because they disgust me so bad. I am at a loss of what to do other than that. That does not mean I do not love you. I hope you get how serious I am about this, buddy. I cannot have that stress in my life. What happens between us from here on out will be your decision.
I have decided to type this as it affects me so I used the word I a lot. I did that on purpose. That way you could not think that I was influenced in anyway by how your other family members feel about it. They each have their own opinions and feelings. I felt I should only type this from the aspect of how I feel, what I see, and how it affects me. They can each share their views on it with you at their own time if they choose to and in their own way. I will also let you know that YL-(enter your city here) may be saying something to you about an email I sent them. I am sure they will recognize my name as the same as yours. I basically let them know what I thought of them. I asked them to pass on to their “leaders” to leave your sister alone. I am tired of her having to vent how frustrating it is to be repeatedly hounded about becoming a Young Lifer. It is also creepy to her that a college age leader(whose name has been removed) sits in the student section at sports events. It really bothers her and eliminates a lot of the fun she goes there to have. I am certain she is not the only one. On top of that, YLers seem to always want to give their testimony to her at sporting events. She did not pay for a sports pass to hear that only to watch the same girls be some of the nastiest ones in all of her school. Actions speak louder than words. I am sure the same can be said for kids at other schools you guys get placed in.
I know that making a change like this is a HUGE step and it may be impossible for you to see that it can be done. I completely understand how easy it is to trust and believe in people that much, especially at your age. It happens in society every day. Your entire life revolves around/in it. All I can tell you is that I’d be there every step of the way to help you however I could. You do understand and know that right? Like I said before, it does not mean I do not love you. I just cannot have the stress of it in my life.