THOMPSONTOWN - It's Monday evening.
Normally, not much would be happening in the life of a teenager - just another night of homework, social networking, maybe a little television and planning for the following day. However, in Thompsontown, the Sausman Youth Center is open for action.
The impact of billiard balls on the pool table, noise from televisions and video games blaring and the laughter and chatter of teens can be heard throughout the building. It's Xtreme Club, a weekly gathering of youth in grades 8-12, who come from all over the county each Monday. Although the initial appearance might fool you, this is not just a post-school hang-out. The goals of Xtreme Club are much greater than one might expect upon first glance.
Juniata Valley Family photo by BRAD KREITZER
Danny Reed, club director, speaks to a group of youths during Xtreme Club, a weekly gathering of students in grade 8-12.
Xtreme Club is one of the key programs of Central Pennsylvania Youth Ministries. CPYM has several clubs operating under the name in various locations throughout our region, from West Perry and Mifflin County to Selinsgrove and Berwick. All clubs differ in their operations, but the mission is the same: to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with unchurched young people in central Pennsylvania. This is accomplished not just through weekly club meetings but also through camps and community events designed to introduce Christ in a simple, exciting and non-threatening way to teens who may have never stepped foot in a church.
Club meetings include lessons, games, prayer and worship geared toward teens. Many CPYM staff visit school lunchrooms, sporting events and other activities to interact and build relationships with youth, as well as promote ministry events.
Along with many volunteers, CPYM, a non-profit organization, is made up of full-time staff who direct club meetings and local events in the area in which they minister. Each staff person is responsible for raising funds to operate the ministry. This happens through an annual fundraising dinner, as well as other creative and unique activities throughout the year.
CPYM has been so successful in bringing Christ to the lives of teenagers, thanks in large part to generous gifts from individuals, businesses and churches who support the mission and individual staff members monthly and annually.
Funds also are used in scholarships to assist teens attending annual events. Those events include Summer Camp, held each June in Ocean City, N.J., Xtreme Escape, a weekend event in Erie, and Impact, the largest youth event in central PA, with over 1,000 people attending every year. Open gym events, bowling, rollerskating, concerts, bike trips, camping retreats and mission trips are activities used to build relationships with the young people who participate.
In Juniata County, the Sausman Youth Center, one of two centers operated by CPYM, is the home of three CPYM clubs. Xtreme Club, held on Mondays, and the WreckRoom Crew, held Sundays, are both senior high gatherings. Another group, Flipside, is held weekly on Thursday evenings for fourth to seventh grade students. There also is a Mifflintown Xtreme Club which meets every Wednesday night at the Presbyterian Church in Mifflintown, welcoming youth from grades six to 12.
The Sausman Center also has a Christian day care operating in the lower level, as well as a gym and raquetball/Wallyball court. Local community groups, Little League teams and the Boy Scouts have utilized the building on non-club nights for meetings, sign-ups and programs.
Personally, working with CPYM has been a dream come true. I have been in youth ministry for more than 20 years and have spent the last four as part of this organization. Seeing the changes in a young person's life after coming to know Christ reaffirms the decision to dedicate my life to serving Him daily in this capacity.
If you are interested in knowing more about CPYM, visit our website at www.youthcybercenter.com. We are always looking for new volunteers, as well as supporters to help through prayer and gifts. You can contact me by email if you would like a tour of the Sausman Youth Center or would like more information on our ministry in Juniata County at firstname.lastname@example.org.
It is our duty, as followers of Christ, to "go into all the world and preach the Gospel to all creation" (Mark 16:15, NIV). These words are solidly entrenched in our mission at CPYM, to see this generation be the one that turns the focus of our world back to Jesus.
With the help and support of our community, Central Pennsylvania Youth Ministries will continue to bring the Good News to the lost and strengthen young believers in our neighborhoods, schools and beyond.