A Christian program for students has returned to Forsyth County.
Young Life, an interdenominational nonprofit organization that shares the message of Jesus Christ with middle and high school students, was active locally for nearly a dozen years.
However, due to staffing issues, it was closed for about three years.
That all changed a few months ago when Chris Ashburn and a board of volunteers restarted the program.
Ashburn, the new area director of Forsyth County Young Life, said the organization held its first big event in late September.
More than 200 people gathered at the Forsyth Conference Center for a kick-off celebration and fundraiser, he said.
Currently, Young Life is active at Lambert High, but Ashburn wants to expand.
“Lambert is allowing us to come in, but we hope to eventually be in all the middle and high schools in the county,” he said.
Young Life is basically a school club, where students can voluntarily take part.
Ashburn said while club meetings are being held at Lambert and in the homes of some adult leaders, they are open to all Forsyth middle and high students.
Ashburn said in order to expand to other schools, more adult leaders are needed.
“The three main things we need now are, first of all, prayer and then more adult leaders and financing,” he said.
Besides the meetings, Young Life also offers several camp opportunities to participants.
Ashburn said a group of about 20 Forsyth students took part in a weekend camp in Jasper last week.
“Young Life camps aren’t like what most people think of when they think about camp,” he said. “They’re more like resorts. They have a lot of great activities like high adventure ropes courses.”
Ashburn said the organization will take another group of students in July to Crooked Creek Camp in Colorado.
“We’d love to have any high school students who are interested to go on that trip,” he said.
While he’s working to expand the program, Ashburn is also getting settled into his new life here.
He and wife Kelly, a high school English teacher, recently purchased a house in the county.
“Right now we’re visiting churches, trying to find the best fit for us,” he said.
They are also expecting their first child in January.
Ashburn brings a lot of experience to his new position.
He said he met his wife while developing Young Life in Tifton.
Ashburn first went on-staff with the organization right after he graduated from Georgia College & State University in Milledge-
While a college student, he served as a Young Life volunteer leader. He also participated in the program as a teen in Chickamauga.
“I was really involved in Young Life as a kid,” he said. “We do a lot of fun things with a contemporary feel.”
While the program provides fun for students, ultimately, Young Life is about the Christian faith, Ashburn said.
“In the end, it’s mostly about pointing the students toward Jesus, making them think about who this guy is and sharing the gospel with them in a way they can relate to,” he said.