Kyle and Leanne Young haven’t even been married a year, but they already have lots of kids, and they’re all teenagers.
The Youngs serve as the male and female outreach workers at Joe’s Place youth centre in Moose Jaw.
“We’re here to be available to the youth in Moose Jaw,” Kyle said.
“The mission statement of Joe’s Place is ‘To help youth reach their full God-given potential,’” Leanne added. “So, it’s sort of like everything that Kyle and I do is to drive that.”
Besides connecting with Moose Jaw teens at the centre’s weekly activities, the couple says several camping trips they take with the youth throughout the year are a highlight.
“Those are one of the biggest ways we connect with youth outside of our walls at Joe’s Place – going on retreats, and going on camping trips and hiking trips and things like that,” Leanne explained. “(The kids) are able to focus more on themselves, building relationships with their volunteers and staff. That’s where we see the most growth I think.”
The Youngs have a simple plan when it comes to impacting Moose Jaw’s youth.
“We live out our faith by our lifestyle and the kids know we’re Christians,” Leanne exclaimed. “We walk alongside them and they walk alongside us. We celebrate their grads and when they get married and when they have babies, but we also go through funerals and through grieving and sickness.”
Kyle and Leanne signed up for this kind of work. They both came to Briercrest from their hometowns of Peterborough and Halliburton, Ont. wanting to study youth ministry.
“I went to Briercrest to do youth ministry—actually to do more of a paracurch program or like a drop-in centre,” Kyle explained. “I heard about Joe’s Place through Youth Quake in 2007. It felt like a natural fit to come and join the Joe’s Place volunteer team and then into an internship and then into employment.”
Leanne’s path to Moose Jaw began on a ministry trip to Hong Kong.
“When I was there God really broke my heart for unchurched people,” she explained. “I started to take some global studies classes because I thought I was going to go overseas. Then through volunteering at Joe’s Place, God just really showed me that the youth in Moose Jaw were just as unchurched. God was actually calling me to the youth in Moose Jaw.
Leanne felt God giving her specific direction in her calling through many of the things she was learning in her Briercrest classes.
“Different classes I was taking, God just continually broke my heart for those who didn’t know Him—for injustice and for the fatherless,” she explained. “My education definitely confirmed my calling of where I was supposed to be. To move to Moose Jaw and live with the kids here and just live out the presence of Christ.”
“Through our classes, through our education, through our experience living in Caronport with the students and faculty (we were) prepared not only mentally but also socially to live authentic community in Moose Jaw,” Kyle said.
That kind of community looks a lot like a family.
“A lot of our kids call us mom and dad,” Leanne said. “We get to be spiritual parents to them and speak biblical truth and God’s hope into their lives. Even if they don’t grasp it right away—because we’ve been here so long—over time (we see) that the truth does sink into their hearts even if it’s not right away. God is still using it.”
The Youngs’ steady, consistent commitment to invest in into the lives of their youth has brought some wonderful results.
“Seeing some of these youth who come back to be volunteers—or (hearing) that they’re living elsewhere and that they’re actually in a good place in life and not in jail or addicted to substances—then that’s a victory,” Kyle exclaimed.
“It’s been cool to see our kids go from just thinking about themselves to thinking about other people,” Leanne said. “We’ve been teaching them about God’s heart for injustice and that they can stand up for those who are oppressed and that’s actually what God’s called us to and by them doing that, then they’re encountering God. . . I’m excited that they’re still in high school. I’m excited to see them grow and graduate from high school and see where God takes them. Who knows where they’ll go from here and what impact they’ll make wherever God leads them?”