Meet Mary. 

This is my friend Mary

! I met Mary last summer on our YFC Camp to Colorado. Mary is special to me. She knows how make me laugh until my belly hurts. 

She never fails to make a situation unforgettable. Mary is strong, on the inside and out. She will put up a fight in any situation and not back down. 

This summer not only is Mary hoping to come to summer camp but she also wants to bring her cousin Helena. And that is saying something huge because last summer it was a fight to get her to come. Not this summer. Mary was the first one to not only turn in her paperwork but also her cousin’s, who started coming to City Life because of Mary’s invitation. 

Last year Mary and I faced some of our fears together. One being repelling down a mountain. What an experience that was! Mary is one of the reasons I fell in love with YFC and am now a volunteer for City Life. Shes taught me to laugh in those “un-laughable” situations. 

Please help me bring Mary to summer camp this summer!
-written by: Bethanne Marner; Campus Life Intern

Better Than Ever: Influence

Last Night’s City Life was one for the books!

As competitive leaders, we love having activities centered around small-group-team-building exercises where we can take the trophy home. Well, last night we all left tired, sweaty, and feeling way older than we felt going into the evening.


The Objective? A Team Photo Scavenger hunt with different Photo-ops earning different points:


Spell Out YFC with your team…

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Team Photo At the Rockford Symbol = 1400 Points!

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3-Legged races…

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Creative Team Shot…Nicole’s group opted for the classic ‘Prom’ look!

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While Tyrone’s group took the more traditional-staircase photo..

All in all, it was a fun night with a lot of memories made and minor injuries.

We finished off the evening with eating together and a message from Nicole about how to be a positive influence to the people and community around us. She challenged our students to get involved with A Night To Remember next weekend; an initiative to give Special Needs members in our community an unforgettable Prom.



Knight Time

One of my favorite parts of Campus Life is actually being on campus with some of our awesome students.

We have the privilege to help serve at Auburn every week in the lower cafeteria. We host games and hang out with students during their first period. The students love the messy games and weird things we make them eat… (Because we almost always make them eat weird things…)


It’s been an incredible blessing that the administration sought us out as a partner this year and we are grateful for the opportunity to invest in students in our public schools.

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Shout out to our awesome Auburn Knight Family!


Inside Out

The past four weeks have been a whirlwind of emotion as we’ve been investigating what it means to look inside our anger, inside our fear, inside our sadness, and most recently, inside our joy. 


With the help of clever little pixar creations, wildly creative programming and talented teachers, we have been digging deeper into those little feelings that make up such a big part of us.

Dave Ahrens, a friend from Rockford Reachout Juvenile Ministry shared with us how our anger can actually be a gift from God when processed healthily. That anger often strikes a match inside of us, spurring us on to change. It can be the force that helps us identify our holy discontents and the things that we are called to influence.

Fear Factor week was a whole new level of excitement, to say the least. For some reason, eating bugs, being blindfolded and then blindly guided into a room filled with the unknown, leaves us on the edge of our sink and the brink of insanity. It was my personal favorite week, watching creative leaders get mere seconds of retalitaiton on so many kids when they entered this unknown room. Aaron hiding in the fireplace, Erica decked out like every kids worst nightmare (a scary clown), Tyrin dressed as a skeleton popping up from the pool table, Beth disguised in a full-body gorilla costume…and that barely skims the surface. One by one, students made their way through this dark room full of surprises and scares, facing fear head-on. It was all fun and games, of course, until I was the one who had to venture through this dark room, at the expense of my fearless leaders.

Bethanne shared the power of keeping our eyes on Christ in our moments of fear and doubt. She taught about the story of Jesus walking on water towards his disciples and the fear they must have felt, thinking he was a ghost. That is was only He who could take their fear and transform it into faith. 


Week 3 opened up with a sweet video of the characters, Joy & Sadness, from the movie Inside Out. Joy kept trying to prevent sadness from tainting memories but eventually realized that sadness is important and necessary just as much as Joy. During small groups, students shared that they normally bury their sadness, thinking it makes them weak when they are vulnerable with others. We processed the importance of being honest about our sadness and the importance of a community-a family, like Campus Life, that will help us work through our sadness.

And then last night.

A night dedicated entirely to Joy. A night of fun and games and laughter. SO MUCH LAUGHTER. A night of competing for winning titles and bragging rights (The guys won but only by a rigged system) ha! A night of jumping jacks, hide and seek, running in the rain, and team chants. A night of beanboozled and fake lottery tickets and Pterodactyl Smiles.

And most importantly, a night in the presence of the Lord, where there is Fullness of Joy. 

Community, Worship, Prayer, Truth. These things are all in the DNA of this incredible family that I spend my Thursday nights with. There are very few places I would willingly go, to sacrifice time with my own immediate family…few places that I would miss my daughter’s bedtime and story time and family dinner... but this place…

This place is one of them…

While I know my daughter is safely being cared for, tucked into bed, and whispered God’s truth at home, I never regret my evenings spent with these beautiful, wonderful people. These people that are my family-away-from-family..because as exhausted and achy as I am by the end of the night, I am equally filled to the brim with gratitude and anticipation for the next time we are together. Because these people…they are the real deal. They do anger. They do fear. They do sadness. And together, we do Joy. And they are beautiful and wonderful from the Inside Out. 

Love, Sex & Relationships

This month has been one for the books, kicking off a series on Love, Sex & Relationships!

We are grateful for our guest speakers, Aimee from Pregnancy Care Center of Rockford & Jimmie, on behalf of Rockford Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation, who joined us and taught us this month!

Also, a huge shoutout to our awesome leaders who always invest MORE time, resources, and love into these incredible humans that I would ever expect. They really are the BEST team to serve alongside and learn from. Our Campus Life family is incredibly blessed to be led so strongly by the most caring and compassionate team.

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As you can see, we have a LOT of fun together!

Just some highlights of this series together:

  • Joel & Nicole taught on the difference(s) between Men & Womennicole and joel.JPG
  • Aimee from the Pregnancy Center did an awesome job teaching us about what resources are available at the Pregnancy Care Center for teens, as well as the potential consequences of recreational sex, STD’s and how they are passed, and the benefits of not engaging in pre-marital sex.
  • Candice shared her testimony during the Valentine’s party, and her experience as a single mom
  • Jimmie finished up our last night of the series with educating us on the mission of RAASE and the risks and dangers of sexual exploitation
    • She informed us how victims often end up in a trafficking situation and where & how to find help

It has been an awesome month of learning about the pros and cons of Love, Sex, & Relationships! We asked some our our students what they enjoyed most about this series and here’s what they had to say:

“My favorite thing about this series is the awareness of how much goes on, such as trafficking and teen pregnancies, that I had no idea was going on.”

“You can be legally charged for sexting pictures. I had no idea.” -JM

“I really enjoy the environment and the people/leaders I’m surrounded by. I also enjoy the speakers.”

“I didn’t really know that these things happen in our schools or in Rockford…Now I know. That was my favorite part.”

Looking forward to our next series: Inside Out. Next week, we’re kicking off with INSIDE my ANGER next week with guest speaker, Dave Ahrens from Rockford Reachout Jail Ministry! Join us 6:30-8:30 in the Log Lodge at the ID Pennock YMCA downtown.

Fish & Bread

“What do you have?” Jesus asked.

What do we have?! What do we have?!! What DONT we have!”

The disciples looked around and saw the hungry people and knew their demand was bigger than their supply. 

A little boy hugged tightly to what little he had as he made his way over to Jesus. 

“It’s not much, but it’s all I have…five loaves of bread and two fish.”

Barely enough to feed a starving boy, much-less, thousands. 

But can you imagine how pleased Jesus must have been with this tender-hearted little boy’s sacrifice? I can imagine Him beaming, “Yes, something I can work with!”

When you’re with Jesus, you begin to realize it is never about how much you have to offer and it isn’t even usually about what you have to offer….its simply THAT YOU TRUST HIM ENOUGH TO OFFER.

You take what little you have and you sacrifice it into His hands and watch and be amazed with what He can make from it.

He’s an expert at bringing something from nothing.

He can take fish and bread and make a feast for thousands.

That was the hope that we were clinging to at Campus Life last Thursday as our leaders frantically prepared to serve thanksgiving dinner to students in the city. 

Ten minutes before we’re supposed to eat and we have 15 bags of rolls, four pumpkin pies, a mini crock pot of green beans, and four bundt cakes.

We know more food is coming, but we also know the number of students is growing also. 


The pitifully (almost embarrassing display) of a table sits, many dishes still in transit…

Three people asked me if they should go purchase more food quickly.

There’s no time and for some reason, I just nod, “No. Fish & Bread. Start praying.”

You see, Jesus is an expert at bringing SOMETHING from nothing. 

He delights in showing off. 

And He Did.

Two minutes before serving, the door opens. Six people walk in, carrying trayfuls of food-

Chicken on skewers, fruit, cheese, salad,  stuffed mushrooms, beans, potatoes, desserts….

There was an ABUNDANCE of leftovers. 

When I say an abundance, I mean, abundance..
Students were able to take two and three platefuls. Some even made plates to take home to their parents and families.
Staff members from the YMCA trickled in to grab a plate, themselves.

When it was all said and done, entire cakes and pies and trays were left over but no belly left unsatisfied.

He left no table unturned. No plate unused.  No person left hungry. 

After tonight’s feast, I cannot help but think about those few loaves and fish and how nervous the disciples must have been.

And how sad, but excited, the little boy must have felt. On the one hand, he just lost his lunch. But only minutes later, Jesus showed him that His little lunch was a feast for thousands because he was willing to give it to God. 

That little boy not only witnesses the miracle but he was A part of the miracle. 

“What do you have ? What’s your fish and bread?

What do you have that you Can offer to Jesus? 

You don’t need anything fancy…Just open hands, a willing heart, and trust that whatever Jesus takes from you, He can always give it back in an even better way. 



If You Only Knew…

For the past several weeks, we’ve been working through our Freedom Writer’s series at Campus Life.

Week One: God Sees Me.

Week Two: God Hears Me.

Tonight: God Knows Me.

I say it’s our “Freedom Writers” series because we’ve either watched clips, watched the entire film or adapted different strategies that Mrs. G used in her classroom, with our very own Campus Life squad.

Tonight we got vulnerable. We got real. We got…honest.

Everybody in the room had a moment of silence-of reflection-and answered the statement: “…If you really knew me…”

And here are just a few of their brave responses:

“If you really knew me, you would know I am scared of death. I am scared of speaking in front of large groups of people. I second-guess pretty much everything I do.”

If you really knew me, you’d know that I want to change. How my life is going now, is not how I want it to be.”

“If you really knew me, you wouldn’t know what I’m going through. You wouldn’t know how I feel about every detail about me, about my insecurities,  and every way I think of myself. You wouldn’t know at all.”

“If you REALLY knew me, you would find that I will always believe in God, Jesus & myself. It’s just, I can’t really put my all in God because I know inside that I am going to still make mistakes, not all of them are going to be bright or right.”

“If you really knew me, you’d know that I have a grateful heart.” 

If you really knew me, you would know that I try to do good and not mess up but sometimes I just can’t and I always end up letting people down at the end of the day.”

If you really knew me, you would know that I am just a kid who wants to make friends with all my favorite people & I would do anything for the people I love. I’m scared to let my friends down so I do stupid stuff.”

“If you really knew me, you would know that I want the best for everyone and worry about myself last. You would know that I try my best in everything I do.”

“If you really knew me, you’d know I’m not as shy. If you really knew me, you’d know I have a big heart & a lot of love to give.”

“If you really knew me, you’d know that the choices that I made, I regret it all. I want to take everything back and start my life over and be a better person in life, to make you and my family proud. I love you with all of my heart and never want to do wrong again.”

If you really knew me, you’d know when I think of Jesus’ sacrifice, I am amazed. That God Himself would endure the cross, despising the shame for me, even knowing everything I’ve done, is so encouraging. How is it then that I get lost in my own issues and selfish ambitions? How is it that I still struggle with sin? But there are still times where I see God’s glory revealed and I believe that I can serve Him in whatever I do in the future.”

“If you really knew me, you’d know I’m not taking in enough of you [God].”

“If you really knew me, you would know that I want to trust you with everything but I struggle to give it all to you.”

The amazing thing is, we got to talk about how God does know us….from the inside out and He still loves us. We talked about the story of the woman who anointed His feet with her perfume and the response of the Pharisees. 

We talked about how there is room at the table for EVERYONE because God knows us and loves us anyways. 

He loved the woman but he also loved the pharisees. He wanted them to have a different story-a better story-a perfect story that only He could offer.

We ended the night with a song: “He Knows My Name” by Israel Houghton. If you haven’t heard it, go pull it up and listen to the words.

Then, take a deep breath, grab a pen and write your own brave, honest, vulnerable response:

If you really knew me…”