History of Beaufort Young Life


Young Life

Jim Rayburn

The Beginning

In 1939, Jim Rayburn, a young Presbyterian youth leader and seminary student in Gainesville, Texas, was given a challenge. A local minister invited him to consider the neighborhood high school as his parish and develop ways of contacting kids who had no interest in church.

Rayburn started a weekly club for kids. There was singing, a skit or two and a simple message about Jesus Christ. Club attendance increased dramatically when they started meeting in the homes of the young people.

After graduating from seminary, Rayburn and four other seminarians collaborated, and Young Life was officially born on Oct. 16, 1941, with its own board of trustees. They developed the club idea throughout Texas, with an emphasis on showing kids that faith in God can be not only fun, but exhilarating and life-changing.

​Growth in the Mission

Jim Rayburn

​By 1946, Young Life had moved to a new headquarters in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the staff had grown to 20 men and women across several states. Volunteer leadership began at Wheaton College in Illinois in the late 1940s, and today Young Life clubs depend heavily on the mission’s 35,000 volunteer leaders.

Prior to the 1960s, Young Life had directed its ministry almost completely to suburbanhigh school students. By 1972, it had begun ministries in approximately 25 multiethnic and urban areas. Today, Young Life has more than 750 multiethnic ministriesreaching more than 150,000 inner-city, racially under-represented and poor young people. In the 1980s, the mission developed two new cutting-edge ministries — WyldLife for middle school students and Capernaum for kids with disabilities. Young Life has also developed the Small Town/Rural Initiative, which aims to bring Young Life to rural areas around the country. The most recent new outreach ministries to be formed areYoungLives, which focuses on pregnant teens and young mothers, and Young Life College, which targets students on college campuses.

Young Life’s outreach to kids outside of the United States began in 1953 with the work of Rod and Fran Johnston in France. That ministry, under the name of Jeunesse Ardente, continues to this day. Within 10 years of that first overseas outreach, Young Life had extended its reach to British Columbia, home to a camp called Malibu; to Germany, where Young Life Military began reaching out to kids on military bases; and to Brazil. In the decades since, Young Life’s international outreach expanded both in scope and types of ministries. A mix of American and national staff and volunteers are reaching kids with the Gospel through more than 1,500 ministries in more than 90 countries. ​


Young Life Now

Beaufort Young Life at Carolina Point July 14'

​Today Young Life continues to press toward the goal of reaching two million kids a year through our Reaching a World of Kids initiative. To do this, we’re looking to mobilize more than 80,000 volunteers and establish 8,000 ministry locations. We’re uniquely positioned and prepared to respond to this opportunity by doing what we do best for more kids in more places. We’ll do this through sustaining and starting ministries, leveraging the power of our volunteers and expanding our camping programs.

Young Life's mission remains the same — to introduce adolescents to Jesus Christ and to help them grow in their faith. This happens when caring adults build genuine friendships and earn the right to be heard with their young friends. For more than seven decades, God has blessed the Young Life staff, increasing its numbers from five to more than 3,500 — from one club in Texas to clubs in nearly every corner of the world.​​


Young Life Beaufort | PO Box 1885 Beaufort, SC 29901-1885

Phone: (843) 781-6507

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