Showing posts from 2019


“I firmly believe that Youth Unlimited saved ____’s life this past year.”

The world can be a dark, sad and isolating place. This summer, our team felt the blow of a life lost too soon. A young man, (kid, really), sucked into peer pressure, wanting to fit in, and tragically losing his life to an overdose. A young man who had so much life ahead of him. A young man who walked the halls of Walnut Grove Secondary School. Who rubbed shoulders with our staff. He was seen, he was known, yet he felt…unseen…unknown.

This is the story for so many youth. They want desperately to fit in and cry out in different ways to be seen. For some that’s acting out, for others that’s threats, for others that’s bullying and for others, that’s becoming a ‘yes man’, agreeing to anything for the sake of just a bit of recognition.

In the wake of this tragedy, our team received an email from a parent who felt the blows of this event. Not necessarily because she personally knew the student who had died, but because…

A Radical Stance

Recently, a young man passed away in North Langley. He was 14 years old and he died of a drug overdose brought on by peer pressure. If you’re reading this around Metro Vancouver, it is likely you may have come across this news story as a lot of people were talking about it. The last time I saw him was this past July walking down 88th, as he was prone to do in the area. I was with our Gator Shades students getting a snack on the last day of the program and it got me thinking about him and actually reminded me of how excited I was to connect with him again in September.

When I first met him I told him that I would never forget his name because he shared my father’s name. The school had connected me with him in hopes that we could build relationship and I could become a trusted person for him. From then on I would regularly see him, say hi, walk with him in circles around the hallways (he tended to do that during most class times), or sit and chat with him while he was in detention or w…

Why I Work With Youth

Serving alongside Jon this summer
This summer marked a really interesting time for me in my ministry.  I had the honor of being recognized for fifteen years of service with Youth Unlimited. Sometimes I’m asked about why I continue to work with teenagers, and sometimes I ask myself the same question (like after having to have ACL replacement surgery after a youth event last August). The answer comes from the fact that I was once a hurting, broken teen myself.  I fought through depression, suicidal threats and many complications in relationships.  I would have lost that fight had I not come to a point of encountering Jesus.  In Jesus, I found someone who was willing to walk with me through all of the hard times, and who showed me how to love those who were lost, broken and hurting. Through loving others, I found healing.  Years later, through this work, I am motivated to bring a little bit of that hope and healing into the lives of all the broken and hurting young people that cross my p…

Goodbye Summer

Fall is a season of changes, some we might be anxiously anticipating and others might have us resigned to their inevitability. You might still be in denial, trying to squeeze out some extra summer! Then there’s those fall fanatics: binging on pumpkin spice lattes, breaking out their cardigans and Halloween decorations. If you are really keen (or Costco) you are probably already thinking about Christmas season. For me, the fall season typically means two things: endless raking of leaves and a return to routine.

This year, the fall brings more changes than usual. I have chosen to step out of a leadership role at Youth Unlimited and reduce my work hours in order to pursue a Master’s degree in Counselling. I have a couple classes to finish before I start this 2-year journey in January. I have come to realize that counselling is one of the strongest aspects of my ministry, but it is also the part that I am the most limited by in my education and professional credentials.

You might be wond…

One Night Out

As the summer comes to a close, and things shift gear into the fall season, I felt it would be good to send out another update and let you all know a few things that have been going on, as well as a quick update on the summer.

This summer was a wild ride of ups and downs. I had the opportunity to take youth to do a lot of different things and feel like I definitely had my fill of slurpees. From the waterslides to a baseball game, we experienced a lot. Although fun happened, many of my days were also filled with sitting in the park having all sorts of different discussions with youth. Some were about hope, some about anxiety, making hard choices, dealing with loss and grief, and some about finding resources for difficult situations coming up in their lives. A few conversations were around trying to find housing or a safe place to stay for the night. There was a lot of uncertainty and fear so I am happy I could provide them with a listening ear to ease some of their burden.

One evening …

Changing Seasons

As we move into the fall, we move into a new phase for the Langley Youth Unlimited team. This past winter saw a significant decrease in our funding. This led to a shift in staffing hours and caused us to refocus. As we took into account staff hours and the finances available to our team, we felt it was necessary to take a step back from how we had been doing things.

What does this mean?

As we go into the fall, we will be turning our focus primarily to our work in two Langley schools, working to build relationships with staff and students. By working in the schools, we are meeting youth where they are and entering into their day to day lives. This consistent presence helps to build up trust as these youth see our staff on a regular basis.

The relationships that begin at the school often grow into time outside of the school. Although these hangouts can often appear surface level and like way too much fun, they are actually necessary building blocks for deeper connections. In working si…

Let Your Love Overflow

Being a youth worker means you can hear and run into just about anything you could imagine; sometimes even things you would never think possible. I like to think that I have the whole thick skin/soft heart thing down pretty good given my past experiences. Yet I had a moment last week where my heart just broke in two for a young woman. Turns out my skin wasn’t quite thick enough.

What led to me feeling so deeply for her was the fact that I myself am now a parent. And without going into the details of her story, I just couldn’t even begin to imagine how a parent could not show the care or love to their child that they need- it’s completely foreign to me. It’s a concept that I can’t grasp, especially as it doesn’t speak into my experience with parents, and man does that make me lucky, as it seems like growing up in a loving home goes against the norm.

Not only was this foreign to me in my time growing up with my Mom and Dad, but it goes completely against what I’m experiencing now with …

The Sweet in Bittersweet

This has been a newsletter I have avoided writing. It is a bittersweet moment as I share with you the news that my hours have been cut down to 16 hours - roughly 2 days - a week. Before, I was at four days and hoping to increase from there. However, with the loss of a big donation in January and not being able to raise enough funds, I have instead reduced my hours.

Moving to Abbotsford last summer and driving back and forth has been tough. Working within the community and living further away makes it difficult to feel connected. Next year, my husband and I are planning on moving to a property almost in Chilliwack. With that knowledge, I knew I would reduce my hours and look for part time work close to my new place while continuing with Langley as much as I could. Yet this came a lot quicker than I had expected.

So what does this look like for me? I am not totally sure. This is the first time in a long time where I have had to look into my future and ask God what my next steps should …

The Gift of Presence

As the year goes by and my relationships with youth grow, I always try to convince myself that it will get easier over time to hear their hard stories. Yet the last few weeks have proven once again that this isn’t the case, and maybe that’s not a bad thing.

I feel that over time, I’ve started to recognize how normal grief, loss, and toxic situations are for our younger generation. I make a very conscious effort to prevent myself from becoming numb to the hurt in our society, even though I hear new stories of the same old hurt that comes to our young friends.

A youth walked up to me and asked to go for a walk (going for walks seems to be a staple in my work). As we were walking she says to me “ I just needed some space to walk and think” and I replied with the usual      “What have you been thinking about”. She looked at me with tears in her eyes and said “One of my best friends was murdered a few years ago, and I just found out how she was murdered this week. I can’t stop thinking ab…

The True Outcome

Tears streamed down my cheeks as I drove.  I felt overwhelmed with grief over the news I’d received.  One of my former youth, who had beaten the odds, overcome their trauma, found Jesus and entered into ministry themselves, had suddenly done a major U-turn. They threw it all away in the pursuit of a newly developed passion. I questioned my purpose as one great success turned into a failure.  Pulling myself together, I came to our drop-in center to prepare for the 50-60 teenagers who would soon invade the space.  
As I walked in, one of my interns asked if I could help them with something.  Thinking it was a simple task, I agreed. It would help to get my mind off of things for a few minutes.  Instead, they pulled out a notebook and asked this question:
“What are some outcomes you’ve seen in youth you’ve shared the gospel with?”
I froze.  This intern wanted to hear victories. And there has been many ways in which Jesus has miraculously shown up - in dreams, transformations, softening h…

What We Do

Did you know?
Langley Youth Unlimited serves a community of 5,000 youth with a staff of eight.
It only takes $92 per year per youth to enable us to continue providing ongoing consistent support to our community.

Do you know someone who is passionate about…
…providing vulnerable youth safe spaces and relationships?
Youth Unlimited is a resource that both schools and churches offer young people who might not feel safe in their community.
…offering stability in the midst of the storm of adolescence?
From a smile and a high five, to a crisis intervention and everything in between, our youth workers are walking the halls of our student’s schools every day.
…helping teens find a sense of belonging?
Hangar 17 is about creating a sense of home for youth. Home is more than food and shelter, it’s a community that claims you as their own. It’s a core human need and it’s at the very heart and story of God.
Would you be willing to make an introduction?
If you know someone who is passionate about the…

Beyond the Youth

I don’t know what it’s like to have a child of my own, especially one who is facing struggles I have never personally dealt with. I imagine worry, stress, fear, confusion and potentially desperation are words to describe the emotions that come with it. Only those of you who have your own children may understand. I see the pain of youth, deep and dark. Some of those youth I see or speak to on a daily basis. I am with them in the mess of their lives.

Yes, I love each of the youth I work with but I still can’t understand the feeling of having responsibility for a child who can’t get out of bed; who wont eat; who cries themselves to sleep every night. The things that happen, the choices they make, it just doesn’t always make sense but haven’t we all been there. For some of us, we’re even in it right now.

You may be asking why I’m going on about this idea. It’s because I want you to see a side of youth work that is unexpected and profound. It’s when the parents just need someone to talk t…

A Message From Our Youth

This month we asked one of our youth to write the main page for our newsletters. We asked them to be honest and open about what the hangar means to them. They came back with this amazing piece of writing:

A Message from a Hangar 17 Student...

The hanger is a wonderful home of creativity and friendship. It’s a place one can always feel welcome and at home. In the two and a half years I’ve been going, the space has evolved to be more welcoming, homey, and accepting to all those who come through.

Visiting the hanger is the biggest highlight of my week, there are always welcoming faces and an accepting environment. The hanger brews a wonderful sense of community and connection, it is the place where most of my friendships have been made and it’s our constant hangout place. The community environment that’s been built is a constant support through the stress of school.

On top of their wonderful art program, their “spiritual life” time has made a huge impact on my own view of the world and …

Welcome to "My Space"

Over the last 5 weeks I’ve been fortunate enough to come alongside my coworker Amy on a church tour that she has organized for our teens. A lot of these teens are people we have known and worked with for years now and, as a result, have a good depth of relationship. However, most aren’t comfortable enough to go to church on their own due to fear of being rejected because of their identity, cases of social anxiety, or just being a bit too rough around the edges. So, of course, we are happy to come alongside to help give them a glimpse of different churches and denominations and create opportunities to talk about those differences - what some believe versus others, and why there are so many. Cool, right? This leads to tons of awesome conversation points with young people where this is all new to them. I love this stuff! 
However, that hasn’t been my favourite part. My favourite part about this tour has been loading up our mini van that was donated to YU Langley and filling it with Kirs…

Pink Shirt Day

This past month in February, I spent time looking into the youth we work with and the exposure to bullying. February 27th is known as Pink Shirt Day; a day to wear pink and stand up against bullying. 
On the website Bullying Canada it says “The longer a child is bullied, the more likely they are to develop physical, emotional, and psychological scars that can last a lifetime. Bullying can be devastating, leaving children withdrawn, shy and insecure. Kids frequently suffer stomach aches, headaches, panic attacks, and nightmares. They can become unable to sleep – or may sleep too much.” Not only does this affect those being bullied, but the bullies themselves hurt because they have been hurt. It is an unhealthy cycle of youth trying to find themselves and causing hurt to many around them. 
I wanted to make a point to wear a pink shirt on February 27th so I created my own shirt to wear. Soon, I had people wanting one for themselves and ended up selling over twenty shirts. The best part …

The Gift of Presence

There were a lot of unexpected things that happened to me this last year. As you may have heard, there were a few sudden deaths in my family and friend circles, and some other life-altering events that have impacted my current life. Yet through the good and the bad, I am thankful for it all. Life has been fairly busy over the last few years and I realized that I have not been investing as much time into my friends and family as I would like. To make a long story short, I would really like to get together with you sometime this year and thank you for the time, effort and support you have given me over the years.

There are so many things that you have enabled me to do - just with your presence, your encouraging words, your love, and your support. You have enabled me to support youth through rehabilitation programs after an overdose, sit with them as they wait for the doctor, take youth to different churches in the community, encourage them on their hard days, provide some youth and fam…

Bringing Lost Souls Home

I was driving along one day when a small kitten darted out in front of my car.  As I was driving a long way off from any sort of residential neighborhood, I pulled over and walked back to find the little fellow.  I’m not much of a cat person but in this moment of finding an obviously terrified, semi-wild, young kitten with matted fur and dried blood on its face, compassion got the better of me and I just wanted to bring this guy home.  I knew that my house would be a much safer environment for him.  Providing safety for a hungry, hurting, kitty outweighed my lack of enthusiasm for having an animal live in our house.

As a youth worker, it is a similar experience. While going through the normal routines of the day, we notice when something is out of place.  We take the time to pull over, to investigate and to see what sort of response is needed.  Many youth are semi-wild due to a lack of proper human interaction with their families, such as abuse and neglect.  Other have faced unspeaka…

Getting to the Heart

My name is Megan Adam and I am the Executive Assistant for Langley Youth Unlimited, currently on maternity leave. I have worked with Derian for 4 years now and have seen him grow in so many different areas of his life during this time. Not only has he played a role in my own spiritual life but he also continues to make a positive impact for the students and Langley team.
One of the things I love about Derian is his willingness to ask the tough questions. He is not afraid to get his hands dirty and go right to the issues of the heart. This can be a bit of a shock to youth, who are often not ready to share on that level but because of his boldness, I have seen youth open up in ways that possibly would have not happened otherwise. Because of his bravery, youth’s lives are being changed. These questions and promptings are causing them to think about parts of their lives in ways they have not before, often times leading to reflection and desire for change.
I believe that when Derian sees …

People, Not Players

As some of you already know I have had the opportunity to coach basketball at H.D. Stafford. It started out as an assistant coaching position with a teacher who works at the school. We started hosting practices and as the numbers of grade six girls kept pouring in, it became evident that I would be coaching a team on my own. I wasn’t sure I was ready for the responsibility of thirteen girls - taking them to games, coaching them, and helping them develop character in the face of a loss. But then there it was, game day.

As I loaded the girls on the bus they were excited to go to Yorkson Creek Middle School for their game. For many of these girls, it was the very first basketball game they had played outside of gym class. Little did they know it was the very first basketball game I had coached outside of basketball camps. I really wasn’t sure how the girls would play under pressure and unfortunately the first game was very discouraging for them. They were out-matched and just trying to …

Expect the Unexpected

Through my training in Lifeteams and apprenticeship with Youth Unlimited, one thing I have come to learn about youth work is that the unexpected inevitably has a way of sneaking in and disrupting your carefully thought-through plan. The coffee shop you planned to work at is closed for the day, a youth doesn’t show up for your planned meeting, or it rains on the night of your outdoor event. In these situations, you can either see the unexpected as a disruption or an opportunity.  When you have the right mindset, the unexpected can often result in something even better than the original plan. This has been a process for me, one that I am very much still learning. Discovering that my apprenticeship contract concludes in February 2019 disrupted my plan of working through until June.  While difficult to draw my working with these students in Langley to a close, I choose to see it as an exciting opportunity that may in fact turn out better than my original plan.

Although I don’t have all o…

Left in Pieces

Some words I have heard from the youth:

“I don’t really have anywhere else I can be myself but here”

“Why do you guys care about me so much? I’m not worth it.”

“This is the only place I feel safe.”

Having now been working for Youth Unlimited for 8 months, I can honestly say it is the most difficult and yet most rewarding place I have ever been a part of. You are challenged - emotionally, physically, mentally, intellectually, and spiritually. You are confided in, questions are posed to you from youth and staff that leave you examining your entire life (thank you Danny), and your whole world can be turned upside down as things that have been hidden for so long inside you finally begin to rise to the surface. Working with youth and hearing their stories can leave you raw. Some months you don’t see any progress and then out of nowhere, youth you have been praying for and seen people pour into finally begin to open up in ways you would have never hoped for or imagined.

The people you work…

Family - Large & Small

Happy New Year Friends and Family!

I hope the holidays have treated you all well and you were able to enter into the new year surrounded by loved ones and ready for whatever 2019 will bring you.

For my small family, we enjoyed our Christmas season with family, friends and a quick trip to the island to visit some dear friends of ours. Roland is in full toddler mode and we are having a blast with his constant new discoveries and words and find ourselves laughing with him everyday with his big personality. For Kirstie, she is heading into a couple months of schooling to complete her emergency specialty program. This will be the first time in our relationship that we wont have shift work in our lives! Pretty exciting for us as we’ll get to experience a different normal.

For my bigger family with our teens here in Langley, Christmas season can be a tough time because unlike a lot you reading this, family isn’t always the best or safest place for them. I think especially of a young friend …

Worthy of Love

Working in a team can be tough yet so rewarding. With Youth Unlimited, you are working alongside staff who have the same passion and goals in mind - that is to love youth, see the best in their lives and introduce them to Jesus. It is very rare that we get to see stories fully through with youth; often small parts of their lives fall through the cracks. As a team ,we debrief after our Wednesday programs. We talk about the night and share any highlights and low moments from the evening. Just before Christmas, a couple of us put together the pieces of a beautiful story that came about throughout that particular evening. If it wasn’t’ for us sitting down after to look back at the night, we would have never seen the story come to life that brought many of us to tears.

This story is about a girl named Holly (name has been changed). She has been going through a lot of mental health issues as well as expressing to us multiple times the lack of love and friends she has. She comes regularly t…