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Major Young Life Donor Arrested in Prostitution Sting

13 Nov

Hedge Fund Manager, James A. Bisenius was arrested and charged for allegedly attempting to solicit a prostitute.   He is the founder of Oregon’s largest Hedge Fund and is also a prominent financial supporter of Young Life and it’s Washington Family Ranch in Oregon State.

An older online article, about Young Life in Seward, AK describes Bisenius as a former Young Life leader from Oregon and details how a donation from his Master’s Plan Fund helped their Young Life have the finances to move forward.

You can read the full  reports about his arrest below…

http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/news/2013/09/04/james-bisenius-arrested-prostitution.html

http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/news/2013/09/04/jim-bisenius-philanthropy.html

http://www.buzzfeed.com/mariahsummers/how-a-prostitution-sting-could-take-down-the-largest-hedge-f

Associate Pastor/ Young Life Leader Arrested for Sexual Relations with a Minor

23 Oct

Darin Evans (married with three teenage children), a former pastor and Young Life leader in Elmhurst, IL.  was arrested and charged with criminal sexual assault and aggravated sexual assault.  The  victim of the assaults was 16 years old when the sexual assaults started.  One report claims that the female victim was told by Evans, that he would kill himself if she ever ended the relationship.

Another report describes the assaults:

From 2004 to 2011, Evans allegedly sexually assaulted his victim on multiple occasions at multiple locations, including his vehicle, public places and on a church-sponsored youth retreat, according the State’s Attorney’s Office.   ABC News is reportingthose locations included cemeteries and restrooms.

Evans has confessed to the relationship and now faces a possible 47 years prison sentence if convicted of all the charges.

You can read more about this tragedy by clicking on the links below.

http://elmhurst.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/former-associate-pastor-elmhurst-west-suburban-church8fb6b85907

http://elmhurst.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/former-associate-pastor-of-west-suburban-community-ch52bad206ea

http://elmhurst.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/new-details-emerge-about-associate-pastor-s-alleged-s743d820151

http://elmhurst.patch.com/groups/police-and-fire/p/young-life-volunteer-says-many-are-praying-for-healin4a5ae831a2

http://abclocal.go.com/wls/story?section=news/local&id=9033271

Young Life Tactics-Cultic or Legit ?

16 Apr

Eric asked a good question that I didn’t want to get lost in the comments of Is Young Life a Cult .

He asked

“does Young Life employ cultic tactics, or do cults and cultish organizations instead use legitimate techniques and manipulate them to accomplish what they want to do?”

The short answer, is that Young Life employs tactics common to cults in many (not all ) instances.  Of course, this is just my own opinion. But it is how I see the issue.

Befriending a vulnerable demographic (teens who are minors) without consent and without being up front about motive is cultic. It’s similar to the tactics of the Boston Church of Christ and Amway.

Friendship, enmeshment, and then indoctrination.

It’s a cultic tactic no matter how you slice it. It doesn’t mean that you or other leaders are not good people or that you don’t really love teens (I’m sure you do).

But, it is dishonest if you are not upfront with someone about your motives for befriending them (in Young Life’s case-to share Christ’s love and present the Gospel from an Evangelical/Fundamentalist perspective).

Is Young Life A Cult?: A Parent’s Plea To Their Son

5 Feb

 

Letters to Aussie MPs - No Clean Feed Please.

Letters to Aussie MPs – No Clean Feed Please. (Photo credit: kattekrab)

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.

Love,
Dad

Young Life…From My Inbox

21 Nov

It’s funny, I’ve had very little time to blog recently.  Despite my inability to continue blogging, I’ve had many new readers and quite a few email conversations about my posts on Young Life.  You can read some of my previous posts about Young Life here, here, & here.

One of my email correspondents shared some of their perspective on Young Life and I thought it would make a nice guest post.  When I asked, they gave me their permission to post their thoughts.

I don’t mind sharing my experience with Young Life at all.

I was involved with Young Life during the first two years and a tiny bit of  my third year of high school before I realized it wasn’t something I wanted to be associated with. I think there’s this potential threat of causing division among students, and that’s just not right. Young Life basically divided my school into cliques and we all know the last thing a high school needs are more cliques.

Something else that occurred with Young Life, in my grade, was the ending of many relationships. The female Young Life leaders at my school preached that God should be the only man in our lives. Although I tried understanding where the leaders were coming from, I didn’t see the issue in dividing time between religion and boyfriends. The female leaders influence on many girls in my grade caused them to end relationships with long time boyfriends. One of my good friends was broken up with by his girlfriend. Her explanation was that she needed to give her time to one man, God.

I also recall during sophomore during club when one of the girls in my grade was crying to one of the leaders. The girl was dating another boy in our grade whose family practiced Hinduism. I wasn’t aware of what he did to make her cry, but the female leader’s response was, “Well what do you expect? He’s not a Christian boy.” Even though I didn’t know exactly what the boy did to make her cry, I know for a fact that his religion isn’t the reason for his actions. I thought it was completely unfair for the leader to accuse him of his wrongdoings based on his beliefs.

It wasn’t until Rockbridge, the winter camp during my junior year that I realized I had to quit this organization. During cabin time one night, our leader asked everyone, “So how does everyone go about trying to convince new people to attend club?” And the second she said that, it hit me. If people don’t want to come, then they should simply be left alone.

School is a place of education, not a place of religious education. One of the girls in the cabin replied, “I usually just give everyone a flyer, even if they’re Jewish because I still want to see them in heaven.”  That was when my personal beliefs started to initiate. I personally don’t believe anyone else’s religion is above another’s. It is no one’s place to tell someone who is Jewish or any other religion that they need to attend Young Life because they won’t end up in heaven.

Young Life caused so much division in my high school, I couldn’t wait to get out. Most of the people from my grade are leaders in college now. A lot of what you said in your blog about Love Bombing and the fact that you were to go after the “popular and more influential kids first” was very eye-opening. I realize now that’s exactly what took place in my high school.

Sorry this was so long, I really could talk about the negatives of Young Life for hours on end.

The Curious Case of the Missing Comment

18 Sep
Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes (Photo credit: givingnot@rocketmail.com)

A couple weeks ago, I cruised over to the Young Life Leader Blog.

While there, I clicked onto this video

 

 

I then left this short comment, which was deleted in less than 12 hours.

AnonymousSeptember 8, 2012 4:00 AM

While I think the video is clever…isn’t it a violation of the High School’s code of ethics for a teacher to be evangelizing the students in her own school?

Secondly, talking about students sleeping over at your home would also seem to be a major breach of standard code of ethics for a High School teacher?

In my experience, groups that are unwilling to dialogue are groups that are willing to break rules when it suits them.   I’m still curious as to why Young Life feel it’s ok for a public school teacher to violate their school’s code of ethics?

Young Life & The Problem With Nice People

14 Sep
Shiny happy people

Shiny happy people (Photo credit: Donna Cymek)

This was my response to Allie, from a comment she made concerning Young Life.  You can read the original post and comment here.

Allie-

Thanks for your comment.

There’s a few things you’ve said that are not accurate and a few issues that I’ll try to clear up.

This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. You’re worried about her meeting “nice” people?

Would you prefer her getting plugged into a crowd that smokes pot, plays beer pong, and sleeps around?

Let’s talk about nice people. Of course we all want our children to grow up and be nice and hang around with nice people. But there’s one thing you are forgetting. Many people will be nice because they hope to gain your trust to their advantage. They are nice because they have an agenda.

Cults do this, it’s called love bombing. I’ve met very nice folks who wanted to be my friend, only to find out they wanted me to be their Amway down-line. I’ve met nice people who want me to join the Jehovah Witnesses. I’ve met many nice people, who in the end, their main reason for being nice was to try to gain my financial support.

Nice doesn’t guarantee safe. I know this first hand. Nice people are great, if they are truly nice. Nice people with an agenda are a whole other ball of wax.

Young Life has perfected the art of being nice with an agenda. They are intentionally nice so that can try to win a hearing for their version of Evangelical Christianity. They may be the nicest, most well-intentioned people on the planet, but it doesn’t change the fact they have a very specific agenda.

Young Life’s mission is not to make people “Young Lifers”. It’s about getting them plugged into a church if they want a relationship with god. Most people who go to Young Life know NOTHING about god at all.

I’d have to half disagree with this statement. I’ve known quite a few Young Life staffers and volunteers, on both coasts. While they certainly are committed to introducing teens to Christ, many of them are less than enthusiastic about church.

I’ve had many a Young Life leader express disdain or frustration about their churches. Some have expressed that the only reason they go is because it’s the proper thing to do, kind of like eating your vegetables. This attitude isn’t universal, but it is prevalent.

My other problem with your statement, is the idea that most who go to YL know nothing about God. I’m sure there are some, but many grow up in a family that attends church. They might not be in an Evangelical church, but saying they know nothing about God is not a fair characterization, in my opinion.

Young Life is a volunteer ran non-profit organization, no body has any “Rewards” for having more kids at their Young Life.

This is simply not true. Young Life has over 3,000 paid staff, according to glass door.

http://www.glassdoor.com/Overview/Working-at-Young-Life-EI_IE26139.11,21.htm

According to Charity Navigator, Young Life had revenues of $238 million and it’s CEO, Denny Rydberg, was paid $370,333 (that’s his yearly salary).

http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=4791

There is plenty of money flowing. You might only see the volunteer leaders, 95% are unpaid college students, but that is not the whole story. I was shocked, when as a volunteer leader that spent all my spare time and money doing club and contact work, I learned that Denny Rydberg was making more than a quarter million a year.

And just for fun…..