As some of you might know, last week a young man named Aaron Kirkland died in a car accident after a night of hanging out with other kids and one of our Young Life leaders at Buford. This tragic event has absolutely shocked this town. I was on a cruise ship with Stacey until Saturday, and when I got off the ship and finally got a signal, it was like getting kicked in the chest. I want to tell you guys that I am confident that right now Aaron is with God in heaven by his grace and perfect timing. A week before the accident Aaron gave his life to Christ after coming to Young Life club on September 27. Him and I talked for a long time about his life and how he thought God wanted nothing to do with because of his mistakes and his reputation, but I got to share with him the truth of God's love for him and then and there he decided he wanted to follow Jesus. I would love to share the full story with you all, but as you can imagine that would take a book-long email.
This is why we go. Because of Aaron deciding to follow Jesus, this turns what would be a hopeless situation into one that, though heartbreaking, is full of hope. On Tuesday night I had the honor of speaking at Aarons memorial service where we got to celebrate Aarons amazing life, but we also got to lift up the name of Jesus, the hope of glory. There is so much more to say about this situation, but I'll just leave it at this, please pray for the Kirkland family. Holly and David are his parents, Aaron was their only son. Please also pray for this community, we are all really hurting, but hopeful.
Thank you, I couldn't be here without y'all. It is not a stretch to say that without your partnership with Young Life here, I wouldn't have gotten to see Aaron meet the Lord and have the hope that I do in a situation like this. This email totally doesn't cover everything about this situation, so please don't hesitate to call me if you want to hear more. I have known Aaron since I started working for Young Life in Buford, and have so much more to say, but will leave it there. Thank you all so much and I know you all will lift us up as you have been doing so for so long.
Without your prayer, encouragement, and generous giving, I would not have the opportunity to see the amazing ways that God is moving at Buford High School. Because you have chosen to partner with me, I got to see my entire cabin of boys from Buford High School give their lives to Christ this summer! Here is that story:
July 3-7 we packed 5 boys and myself into my truck (I'm a real Georgia boy now!) and made the hour-long drive to SharpTop Cove in Jasper, GA for the best week of our lives. Leyton, Troy, Matthew, Vaughn, Dean, and myself have been talking and dreaming about this trip since February, and I, along with so many, have been praying for these boys and the week of camping ahead, and boy did God do something amazing there. Throughout the week, by way of club talks, cabin times, family style meals, and every single activity at camp, these boys processed the whole Gospel and made decisions to give their lives over to him and to trust him, all but 1 for the very first time in their lives. Some of my favorite quotes throughout the week were:
"I just assumed God was pretty much done with me because I stopped going to church after 6 grade, I had no idea he was so interested in people who don't have their life together."
"If God can forgive and love me, I want my best friend to know that he wants to forgive and love him too!"
"Thank you so much for making me come to the hoe down (he wanted to sit that one out) I needed that more than you now."
I truly thank God for that trip, he has been so kind to allow me to see his work so closely this summer! We are bringing so much momentum into the fall, here are some ways you can be praying for our area, Stacey, and I:
- For God to provide more leaders for our area, we have a wonderful team at Buford but could use 1-3 more leaders there, but North Gwinnett is down to 1 leader for the fall, so prayers for them especially.
- We need a significant financial boost for this fall semester, the summer camp expenses coupled with a drop in donorship due to covid has left things a little tight, but the Lord has always provided everything we need, so help lift us up as we try to ask the Lord to do it again!
- Prayers for safety and wisdom of how to best reach kids in the midst of spiking cases in our town.
I am grateful for the ways you have been caring for Stacey and I and providing a way for us to be here on the front lines of what God is doing at Buford High School!!
Young Life in Suwanee and Buford is active and God is doing a lot through those he has chosen to lead at North Gwinnett Middle and High School as well as Buford High School. A huge answer to prayer has come through new leaders at Buford High School David Echard, and our very own Walter and Sam Montano! Would you lift this new team up in prayer as well as pray and consider if you might want to get involved? Currently we are in desperate need of more leaders and North Gwinnett Middle and High School.
Also, we would love your prayers for the summer camp trips this summer, that God would bring the right kids to camp and that their hearts would be ready to hear and respond to the gospel. The dates for our summer camp trips are July 3-7 for NGHS and Buford HS and July 12-16 for NGMS.
Ministry in Suwanee Buford has kicked off this week with our first gathering of the semester. The relationships we have built with kids of the last couple of years have taken deep roots and have led to many conversations about Jesus and how he has made them to be in relationship with them. With our campaigners (kids who have a relationship with Jesus or are seeking that out) especially, we have encouraged them in the faith and the opportunity to invite their friends into that same kind of relationship.
Though Young Life's events have had to take different shape this year due to COVID, ministry is thriving through it kids are in front of the Gospel on a regular basis. We are always looking for more folks to get involved in reaching the next kid and the next school! Would you pray for our efforts to find more leaders to reach kids at North Gwinnett middle and high school as well as Buford high school? Another prayer request would be for the safety of our kids, leaders, and staff as we enter into another semester of what God is doing in our town!