The ministry of YOKE is helping to transform the communities in which we serve through four primary areas of impact – mentoring middle school students, equipping college leaders, engaging local churches and impacting local schools.
Surely you know what a crucial time the middle school years can be in a young person’s life. Literally everything is changing! Students are trying to adapt physically, socially, emotionally, academically and spiritually. They’re taking their first steps toward independence from mom and dad, while still trying to figure out who they are and where they fit into the culture around them.
Earlier this year, as Knoxville was struggling to cope with a wave of gang violence, our friends at Overcoming Believers Church hosted a community forum. The stage that night was filled with current and former gang members imploring young people to make different choices than they themselves had made. As they shared the stories of how they had gotten involved in the gang culture, a common theme emerged. They had all joined gangs because they were looking for love and acceptance, and almost all of them got involved during middle school.
Not every kid YOKE deals with will face the decision to join a gang, but they are all looking for acceptance – for someone who loves them just the way they are. That’s why it is so important that YOKE is there, in middle schools, when kids need us the most.
Here’s just one example of how YOKE is transforming the lives of middle school students.