It is the rainy season here, and the lyrics to “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective (if you’re not familiar with it, look it up—its one of my soul songs!) seem more and more poignant each day. Just this afternoon as I walking from the bus stop to a youth ministry meeting with church, the skies let loose with a torrential downpour. Fortunately, some random guys in a (very nice) car pulled up, asked where I was going, and told me to get in. They then drove me to the door of my destination. I realized after I got out that I had just violated everything my parents always told me about not getting in a card with strangers, but… it was really nice of them to stop. Most people would have just let me keep walking in the rain! #littleblessings
What I’m about to share has been about three months in coming. A lot of prayer, wrestling with God, examinations of my heart, and conversations with various people has gone into this decision. And it has not been made without a few (many) tears.
My own testimony has a lot to do with my decision. As many of you know, I had the great privilege (and still do!) of being raised by two people who love God and did their absolute best to teach their children in a way that they would “gain favor with both God and men.” Because of this, I can boast an incredible education in theology, apologetics, and a Biblical worldview, and I am so, so grateful for my parents diligence in training me. I was six when I prayed with my parents to accept Jesus as my Savior and Lord. Yet, today, when asked when I was saved, I often look to a much later date, when, as a teen, I attended a Christian summer camp at Miracle Mountain Ranch and one of the staff girls sat down on the bunkhouse porch with me the very first day and began investing in my life. Her influence in my life started with a simple conversation and time spent together during a week at camp, but she showed me what a relationship with Jesus looked like for a “cool” young person—and I wanted what I saw. Even though, by many standards, I was saved as a child, it was this invitation to “do life together,” this “discipling,” by someone I looked up to that first truly captured my heart and energies for Christ. Because of that experience and others where I have seen personally the importance of mentors in the lives of young adults / youth, it is my desire as a teacher and as an individual to speak truth, but more significantly, to love and invest in the lives of young people as others have done for me.
Over the last two years, I have been able to be a part of the ministry of YoungLife at HOPAC. Recently, we took a group of HOPAC students to the highlands of Morogoro for a weekend of YoungLife camp, and all the memories of my time at summer camp came flooding back to me, and with them the resounding reassurance of my purpose: This is why I am here. This is why I exist. To love kids as Christ loved me. To live life with students as I live life as a child of God. To see youth get excited about Jesus.
In August, I will be returning to Tanzania to continue teaching at HOPAC and working with young people as a part of YoungLife. I stole the following paragraphs from the “About Us” page of the YoungLife website, but I think it perfectly sums up why I’m doing what I’m doing:
“Young Life doesn’t start with a program. It starts with adults who are concerned enough about kids to go to them, on their turf and in their culture, building bridges of authentic friendship. These relationships don’t happen overnight — they take time, patience, trust and consistency.
So Young Life leaders log many hours with kids — where they are, as they are. We listen to their stories and learn what’s important to them because we genuinely care about their joys, triumphs, heartaches and setbacks.
We believe in the power of presence. Kids’ lives are dramatically influenced when caring adults come alongside them, sharing God’s love with them. Because their Young Life leader believes in them, they begin to see that their lives have great worth, meaning and purpose.
This is the first step of a lifelong journey; the choices they make today, based upon God’s love for them, will have an impact on future decisions — careers chosen, marriages formed and families raised — all ripples from the time when a Young Life leader took time to reach out and enter their world.
Loving kids regardless of their responses.”
When I first moved to Tanzania, I remember saying, “I was born to live here.” Perhaps that is true. But what I do know for sure is that I was born to love God and love people…and specifically, to love young people.
There are a lot of details yet to be determined, but I do know a few things for sure. First of all, I am incredibly excited. But in the happy, there is also sadness. I have shed more than a few tears in thinking about the family and friends back in the U.S. that I am once again “leaving behind.” Secondly, I will still be living on support (details below). I’m also sure that you probably have loads of questions for me, some of which I might have answers for, and others that I don’t. Either way, feel free to ask.
Thank you so much for your prayers along this journey. I couldn’t do it without you!
UPDATED GIVING INFORMATION:
To support my ministry here in Dar es Salaam, please follow these instructions:
Checks should be payable to Young Life, designated for X466/Snyder and mailed to Young Life, PO Box 2920, Colorado Springs, CO 80901. You also have the option of setting up automatic payments or giving a one-time gift from a bank account or credit card account through the Young Life Giving website: http://www.giving.younglife.org. On this site, you will need to search for me by my last name (Snyder) or Area Account Number (X466).