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Stories of Hope & Change

Defining moments are a part of life! We all have them, good or bad. Our vision is to exemplify the type of work Jesus did by transforming negative elements of culture into hope, realized potential and social action.

  • conquererI first became a Christian at age 12 at Bible Camp, but to be honest I really had no idea what it meant. So two years after my “acceptance of Christ”, I met a girl and fell into a sexually immoral relationship which lasted for three years. After I realized that this relationship wasn’t satisfying enough I turned to substance abuse to attempt to deal with my problems. This too just left me feeling empty. Then during a Promise Keeper’s trip run by Virden YFC, I grew to realize what I was missing and what it meant to be a Christian. I rededicated my life to Christ and began living through him. Through Christ I have conquered a depression disorder that runs in my family, fought my anger problem and won, and learned that about the strengths and gifts I have!
  • Hi!  I’m Kristi.  I’m 22 years old and I have 2 little girls at home that run my life and the only thing that I get to run is my own business, a hair salon. I grew up in Brandon always being involved with YFC; my dad was on the board and I was friends with everyone around the office at the time.  For me, helping out and being around YFC was a normal thing. When I was a teen I drifted away from everything church related, I wanted to fit in with my peers and I started getting into a very rebellious lifestyle. During that time Dwayne asked my dad to involved me in a student leadership program that he was starting up.  I went….. When I started going to this program I didn’t see why I was involved.  I grew up already having learned everything we were getting taught and didn’t see how it would benefit me.  I was wrong… One weekend Dwayne and Rox packed us into a van and took us to Winnipeg.  They brought us to Samaritan House and told us that we would be making and serving food to the homeless.  We then had to organize games for core kids.  Finally, at the end of the night we loaded into vans and drove around in the freezing cold delivering coffee and hot chocolate to street workers.  One of the girls that I gave hot chocolate to was a year younger than me. That night my night changed.  I found my passion. In the past few years I have strongly struggled with this need inside of me to travel to places that I really felt I needed to be.  I have often felt so tied town to Brandon, my family and my children.  But when I started my salon, I realized that there is such a big need in this industry for strongly grounded people as drugs and alcohol are a big problem in my industry. Right now, my life passion has become my kids and my work.  I have built my life around helping everyone that I can and being there for everyone in my life that needs it.  At work, I hire girls that have hit their rock bottom and try to be their support and help them find their love for life.  Many of my values for work have stemmed from the leadership skills that YFC promoted.  And my social life revolves around helping my friends through rough situations. Youth for Christ moved me from being a very troubled teen to becoming a woman so full of dreams to help around the world and help our future generations.
  • “I know I am a strong person. My parents have made the mistake of showing me they are weak. They took off only a year after I was born. Ran away. I don’t need to be like them. I just hope I turn out to be a wonderful little girl. I have dreams. I know someday I will follow. I have lessons yet to be learnt, I know someday I will. I will have what I want without having to beg for it. I am strong. I am independent. I am me.” Vox Participant
  • YFC helped me at a time when I was having trouble fitting in. I felt that they took the time to hear me out when he never had any reason to, and it meant a lot to me. I caused my fair share of mischief from the age of 11, when we moved to Boissevain, until I was about 15 years old. I was then placed in foster care in Killarney, with a good family that finally taught me some of the values that I would need later in life. Not all aspects of my life were in order, though. Unfortunately, I was suffering academically at this point, as I was now a young man in a new school with new people. At the age of 17, my social life had become more important to me than school, and I dropped out of school in June 1997. In the fall of 1997, I was placed in foster care in Brandon where I ended up getting two jobs and moving out on my own. I went to the Back Alley one night with a friend that I met when I first moved to Brandon. I met a lot of the people that I hang out with today and friends that I’ve lost touch with that I still consider friends. We were all people that came from different backgrounds and the Back Alley gave us a place to go when sometimes there was no place to go, when things were so bad you could scream or cry out, and they heard us…..all of us. In the time that I have been going to Youth for Christ and the Back Alley, I had talked with the workers on many occasions and received good advice. They even helped me get a few jobs, such as rebuilding houses after a tornado swept through a valley in Birmingham, Alabama, in the fall of 1997. It was volunteer work and it really left an impression on me with all the people that I met there, that pitched in to help at a time of need. It was a fascinating trip with absolutely beautiful scenery in which I spent 36 hours crammed into “The Suburban” with, at times, more than eight other people. All in all, it was a really good experience and Youth for Christ has definitely influenced my life. YFC showed me that there really are good, caring people that will not just walk away but stop to find out how you really are, who you really are, offer friendship and if possible, some really good advice. Thank you for believing in me.
  • "Jason" was sitting on the front porch with all of his worldly belongings in two garbage bags beside him, taking a drag off a smoke he had bummed earlier.  I knew that things were obviously not going well for him. As part of the Uturn Personal Development Plan (PDP), he had to either go to school or work full time. Neither seemed to be happening. Jason was a seventeen year old who came from a difficult childhood but didn't fit within the child welfare system. He had been living at Uturn for about three months but hadn't paid any of his rent and was just in the process of giving up. “What do you want me to do?” he said. “I've dropped off resumes for two weeks and I can't even get an interview.” “Well, maybe if you washed your hair you'd get a better response.” I quipped eloquently. “If they don't want me for who I am, they can ...” you get the idea. I believe his thought sums up the majority of our youths' perspective. This is who I am, you don't know me, don't judge me, I must have value... right? I knew some of Jason's dreams, one of which was to make movies. I asked him what he would do if he was shooting a scene where the actor was supposed to be a cop but showed up in a fireman's uniform. He said he would get him to change or get a different actor. We talked about how working at a job is similar to acting. You show up in character, on time, neatly dressed, good personal hygiene and a smile on your face. You look after the customer the way the script calls for it and you do that till the time clock says “Cut!” I will never forget the look on his face when he brought me the last of his back rent and said “There, I'm all caught up.” This was not just back rent, this was victory. After our “acting” talk he said, “I can do that!”, I gave him some of my “old man clothes” to wear and got him an interview with a hotel here in town. He worked at that job till he moved to Winnipeg. He got a job in the movie business and took some directing classes. Last I heard, he had made four or five documentaries and two short films, one that had been nominated for an award. It's not that I said anything out of the ordinary or particularly wise, it was that I knew him, who he was and how God had created him uniquely to be him. I knew that he was indeed valuable.
  • When I first started volunteering at the Literacy Center I thought that the number one purpose was to help these kids read and improve in school. Quite quickly, however, I realized that it was much more. Kids have come and talked to me about problems they may be having at home, at school, or even they will just talk to you about how their life is going. It provides an environment for the kids to feel safe, a spot to reach out, a place to just have fun, explore Christianity and God, and just to feel welcome.
    Personally though, I think that the kids may have taught me more than I have taught them. To be in a place with all these wonderful kids and listen to how their day went and their opinions on things really opened my eyes. As a volunteer I was supposed to help show the kids about God but, what I saw was God shining through the kids. The kids have given me a new outlook on certain things in my own life that I’m truly grateful to have from them.
    The other volunteers and leaders through this ministry have also touched me as well. After all the kids leave for the day and have gone home the leaders and volunteers would pray together. We pray for the ministry, for the kids, and for each other. We pray for specific needs, for individual youth as well as their families and community.  All the people who I have met through this ministry are truly a blessing. I work with amazing people, we’ve  created a strong sense of family.
    The kids and volunteers have had a large impact on my life and my view of things and I’m so glad that I have had the opportunity to work with them. I truly believe that God is definitely present in this ministry.
    “People may not always believe what you say but, they will always believe what you do.” Sometimes Gods word is better received through actions than through words. The ministry through Youth for Christ’s Literacy Center for kids, I believe, understands this fully. Youth for Christ has affected many young lives of the children who come. It is not just a place where kids learn to read.
  • gymblast1 “the GymBlast brought kids together that normally wouldn’t even associate with each other. Prior to the Blast my friends and I would snub off kids that we saw as 'losers' or 'dorky'. The Blast brought us together to work as a team....we had to learn to get along.” Grade 8 Student
  • smiling mirrorMy name is "George", I’m 23 years old and I had been addicted to crack/cocaine and crystal meth for a strong four years now. The consequences of my addictions have been dropping out of high school, loss of healthy relationships with my family, health issues, loss of friends, involvement in crime, mental illness, and poverty. A lot of my family and people that knew me would wonder how someone who was brought up in a loving, hard working Christian home could day by day throw away their life like this. It wasn’t until I actually confessed that I can’t go on by my own willpower and came to know Jesus on a personal level that I realized that’s what was missing. I had to go through the pain and hardships so that I would turn to God and I am now saved from eternal death. Over the past four months my relationship with my family has been restored, I’m dealing with my daily problems with the help of God and I can look in the mirror and smile because I am a child of God.
  • All my life I thought that I could not trust anyone because I have been hurt a lot by different people. But when I moved into the Girls Uturn I realized that there are people you can trust and count on. The Girls Uturn gave me a new perspective on life. Since I have been there I have cut down my drinking and my drugs. I have also been going to school more often. But the biggest thing I have learned is that honesty is not a bad thing. You can go a long way with honesty. I want to go far in life and I think that YFC can help me do that. I feel that YFC can help me by always being there for me and giving me all the support I need. I want to study Family Law and be a lawyer, so I can help kids through their problems. I would also like to study counseling for adolescents. Uturn has given me a family that I never had, and to be honest, it is sometimes very overwhelming. I just want to thank Youth For Christ for all the help and support that they have given me. If it wasn't for them then I don't know where I would be.
  • I stumbled upon the Back Alley at a time in my life when my parents and I did not have the best relationship. I was a young teenager who had completely lost my way in life. I ended up with a bad crowd and did many things that I am not proud of, and shortly after that was when I started to hang out at the Back Alley. umbrellaI became very close with many people that worked there, and it was those relationships that changed my view on life. The staff were the voice of reason that I wasn’t allowing my parents to be, and they did it in such a way that I didn’t see it as an adult telling a child what to do. They were great ‘counsellors’ or ‘life coaches’, they encouraged me to make decisions and to think of the long term effect of those decisions. And of this took place while we shot pool, and hung out listening to music or playing fooseball and in a way that I didn’t even realize the impact that they had on me. I remember after my family had lost our house in a fire the staff all got together and bought me clothes, and got donations from their churches to give me money to help replace what I had lost. It really wasn’t the money that I received that made the most difference, we had insurance to cover the material things, it was the outpouring of love and genuine concern from everyone. When you find yourself with absolutely nothing material to call your own, it is only then that you realize the truly important things in life you cannot place in your hand. And at that time in my life The Back Alley was the best thing going for me. I made so many friends, and felt truly part of the group. I had a hard time in school, and didn’t have many friends, but I looked so forward to Friday and Saturday nights, and without fail every week those were spent at the Back Alley. Brandon has such a limited amount of things for young teens to do, the Back Alley is somewhere for them to hang out and stay out of trouble. I can assure you it kept me out of a lot of trouble, and helped to change my views on so many things. As I said I had gotten myself in with a very bad crowd, since then I know of so many who have ended up in jail, or addicted to hardcore drugs. When I look back on my life, as an adult and now a wife and mother of three boys, I can contribute a huge part of my success to the staff at the Back Alley. Without them and their companionship, and of course their cleverly disguised voice of reason in my life, I’m not sure where I would be now. I can only hope that there continues to be a place like this for my children when they are that age, and for all the youth of this city between now and then. And to all the staff and volunteers involved with Youth For Christ, I’m not sure if I’ve ever properly thanked you for everything you helped me through. And I’m sure I’m not the only one with stories like these. I hope you all know what a great contribution you make to this community. I’ll forever be thankful for the positive influences, and life altering experiences that I gained from you all!
  • I was a troubled teen who was heavily into drugs, alcohol, sex and physically harming myself by cutting my body with anything I could find. I desperately wanted to stop doing these things, I just didn’t know how to. In the long run, YFC helped me get rid of all that. Some of my friends wanted me to come and hang out at this place called the Back Alley. When I first walked in I thought it was lame; yes, there was a lot of things to do, but there was no alcohol and that is what I did all the time was drink. I slowly got more involved, I started going to the Back Alley every weekend realizing that you don’t have to drink to have a good time. I really liked talking to the people that worked there. I could list the names of every person who helped me along my journey but there isn’t enough room on this paper. They showed me that there is more to life than just the here and now, they told me that my life had a purpose and that God would do amazing things in my life if I would just let him in. Let me tell you something, they were totally right, I gave up myself to God and he has made an amazing transformation. Yes, I have slipped and fallen away from God, but I am back and here to stay. I am excited to see what God has in store for me.  God transformed me from being a girl who would sing songs about the devil, into a girl who now sings on the worship team and does specials in church. He has changed me from being angry and suicidal into someone who is full of life and loves everyone. Now I look around and I see my old self in some of these teenagers today, I see the anger, the pain and the hurt in their eyes and I try to help them by sharing of my life and how I overcame all of those obstacles in the road.
  • "This summer I had the opportunity to travel with Youth For Christ to Cornerstone festival and Montreal and I have to say it has been the best summer I have ever had. Growing up I wasn’t raised as a Christian, my parents deemed my choice of religion to be at my own discretion as a grew older. You could say I had always believed in God, my parents made sure they educated me in the belief of God and creation. However, God was never really a priority for me and I didn’t know that much about him. As I started to get older I had maintained relationships with God unsteadily from the age of thirteen on. I started to get in touch with him; Went to Church and youth group and I sometimes even prayed. As everyone knows… With the advances of our adolescence there is the advance of teenage problems. That of which caused me to grow apart from God, I was so far gone from him until this year when a friend had informed me about Cornerstone Festival. This really intrigued me; There was an amazing opportunity to listen to some great music and travel. My two favourite things to do… Who would have known I would have found God again? With hard work and preparation I was able to go to Cornerstone to work as a volunteer. At Cornerstone I was able to register bands and campers, paint faces, listen to great music and reunite with God. Words cannot express how it felt to be one with him again. I remember the exact moment that it hit me; Rhonda and I went to the praise and worship session in one of the tents in the evening featuring the band Illuminate. Everyone’s hands were up the air reaching out to God and then all of the sudden I felt mine go up. It was as if he lifted me up, like a reflex. It was so sudden and it scared me a little, but it felt so right. Nothing in my life could possibly measure up to the feeling of him reaching out to me and that made things different from then on. Of  course when I came home I came down from that high, as life wasn’t surrounded with him things went back to they were before. However, there was an opportunity to go to Montreal for a mission trip with six other individuals. Not only was it a chance to rekindle my relationship with God again but it was a chance to do something for him. I remember one time specifically when Andrea and I were handing out sandwiches that we had made to homeless people on the street. There was a man in a wheelchair with a coffee cup for panhandling; at first I was reluctant to approach these people as I was afraid to offend them. But with the encouragement of Andrea I went. We approached this man and offered him two sandwiches and he took them and was very thankful. We had really done something for this man, the appreciation in his words overthrew me and I knew it was God at his work firsthand."
  • Hi, my name is Jane. I was asked to talk abotu the major changes that God has made in my life in the past year and a half. It all started in April 2009 when our local YFC leader, Sara Enns, come to our school to talk to us about the possibilty of a missions trip to Costa RIca. She said that we would be servingthe people there by spemding time with the kids and fixing buildings. She also talked about how beasutiful Costa RIca is and how we migth even be able to go surfing! Sara said that wile doing all of this we would learn more abot Jesus and become closer to God. At this time I didn't believe in GOd yet this trip still appealed to me becuase I wanted to help people. I thought about the trip all summer and I eventually decided that I wasn't going to go. 
    When I started school in the fall, a whole bunch of people were talking about how they were so excited for the trip and I decided that I should talk to Sara to see if there was any room for me. I sent her a messageand she replied within minutes saying that someone had just dropped out and that there was one open spot! At the time i thought it was just a coincidence but now I know better. I sent in the application and deposit and I was singed up to go to Costa Rica the next summer. Originally I thought that I would be able to ignore the "religious" part of the trip and that I was just going to help other people but God had a different plan in mind.
    In January all the students and leaders who were going on the trip started meeting every monday. During these meetings the leaders would read a few verses and we wold discuss them. I didn't really like this because I had no interest in talking about these things. At the meetings it wasn't serious the whle time though, we would also play games to get to know each other and Sara was teaching us Spanish. After a while I stopped being so stubborn and decided to pay more attention to the lessons and discussions, after all, what did I have to lose? Little by litte I was coming out of my shell.
    I remember the meeting before Spring Break, we watched the video Indescribable with Louis Giglio and I was riveted the entire time. I could realte to what he was talking about, it was like everything clicked. I knew God was real, and he had been working in my life since the very beginning. We discussed the videoand I wanted so badly to say somethingbut I had so many thigs going through my head. I knew I wouldn't be able to be at the meeting the next weekbut I had to tell someone what I was thinking so when I got home I wrote a long message to Sara and asked her to read it at the next meeting. I got so much support from all the people in the group and it was such an amazing feeling. 
    I became really good friends with people I never expected. I know it sounds cheesy but everything felt right. After many meeting, funraisers, and much support from family and friends, a group of 18 teenaggers and 5 leaders left for Costa Rica on July 19th.During the trip God tested us, encouraged us, broke us, fixed us and utterly amazed us. We built friendships with the kids and fixed a school. Our group is currently working with the Costar Ricans towards buying a house for w single mother of four because she is currently living in the slums of Liberia and it's extremely unsafe. 
    Returning was bittersweet and the two weeks we spent in Costa Rica were unforgettable. With the help and friends, family and above all, God, i continue to grow in my faith everyday and I will be forever grateful for that! Corinthians 5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!
  • Because of Youth for Christ, I make Brandon a better place.  This evening, I want to share with you on how I became a Christian and how Youth for Christ helped bring me to this place of freedom. I became a Christian when I was 16, and it sure did not come easy. I never grew up in a Christian home or church so the concept of God was foreign to me, I needed a little help and understanding, a place to belong, this is where YFC comes in. I was 14 years old when I walked in the doors of the YFC drop in center, I felt very welcome and the people were amazing. At this time I was already drinking, doing drugs and having sex, and going to the drop in was an escape from life and my current situation, I loved the drop in, I loved being able to actually smile and enjoy my night, and that it was a safe place to go, somewhere that I could forget my problems for at least a night or 2. As I continued to go to the drop in the staff started talking to me about God and that he could help me in my situation and that having him in my life I would never be alone and I could come to him anytime I needed to. Well it all sounded good and everything but I am a stubborn person and had to do things on my own, I didn't want this God controlling my life, so I decided to do things my own way, and my own way was not the right way.  I continued to drink, do drugs and have sex just to numb the pain of what was actually going on in my life, my way was not working at all and I had hit rock bottom….It got so bad that I was almost successful in committing suicide. To this day I strongly believe that God had his hand on me that night because I should have died. That’s when I decided to believe what my friends at YFC had told me all along.   I decided to make that leap of faith and become a Christian, things were great, I felt free and I finally felt good about myself, I was on fire for God and was loving it, and I thought that all of my problems were solved. Well bad things started happening in my life again and it felt that no matter how much I prayed to God that nothing was happening and that I was a failure and would never amount to anything, and that is when I started to fall away from God, I got back into my old habits and blamed God for not being there for me when I needed him the most, I was so mad at him and didn't want him in my life, I never understood why he let this all happen to me again and why he allowed me to get into bad relationships where I was abused again. I went back to the drop in because it was a safe place for me to go at the time, I started talking with the staff again trying to get an understanding on why all this was happening again, the staff was there for me through thick and thin and never left my side, they helped me through some of my situations. I ended up recommitting my life to God in 2004, this is when I actually got myself connected in a great church and was learning about God and his great love for me, things were awesome and I was so in love with God and I felt that I could never do anything wrong again. I soon found out that just because I am a Christian and love God with all my heart doesn't mean that I can't be tempted, well I ended up pregnant and had a child, I was single and felt very alone, I was so upset.  If  I loved God so much so why did I allow this to happen? I used to think that because I was a Christian I was immune from bad things happening in my life or that God would magically take my issues and problems away, well that wasn't 100% true. Yes I had God in my life and I loved him, but I still needed to work things out on my own as well, even if that meant going for counseling, asking someone for forgiveness or forgiving others, I realized that God wanted me to work on myself to get closer to him, just becoming a Christian doesn't solve all of life's problems, sometimes God allows us to go through things and work them out on our own so that we can see what he has placed us here for and what he wants for our lives. I have now been going to church at Bethel Christian Assembly since 2004.  I am now married and God has blessed me with a wonderful husband who loves and respects me for who I am, we have 2 amazing beautiful little boys, Isaiah who is 5 years old and Micah who is 20 months old. I have recently gotten involved with the drop in center for YFC, this time as a volunteer. Maybe I can bring some light to someone else who has gone through a similar situation. Having Youth for Christ in my life has actually saved my life. YFC is where my journey began, and if they were not here I know I would have ended up an alcoholic or a drug addict, the road that my life was on was leading me to my death. I have been on both sides of the fence, I have been where life was so bad that I didn't understand why I existed, to loving God with all of my heart and seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I understand the importance of Youth for Christ and why God has planted them in our community. I strongly encourage people to get involved with YFC whether that is volunteering, supporting financially, or even becoming a prayer partner, there are a lot of youth out there that have a similar story to mine and they need our help and they need someone to help them start their journey to freedom