YFC Portland Teen Basketball Clinic Sees Lives Changed By The Gospel

September 12, 2023


While summer offers a chance for kids to get out of school, many find themselves aimlessly searching for the companionship and camaraderie the school year offers. The loss of the familiar routine of classes leaves many adrift and in desperate need of meaningful relationships.YFC Portland, the local chapter of Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net), has created a unique and powerful ministry for teens looking for connection over the summer.

Impact The Local Youth Despite Difficulties

“Prior to summer, YFC Portland predominately reached young people in the Greater Portland Area via our Campus Life ministry model,” said Annie Clark, YFC Portland Ministry Co-Director. “While there is something so powerful and divine in sharing the Gospel with unreached teens in the comfort of their own school, it creates a unique challenge for summer break. What started as a desire to respond to this limitation in the ministry resulted in something that felt so sacred and special.”

After assessing the teams’ assets, Clark and the staff determined they needed to find a way to continue to impact the local youth despite the difficulties. A local church partner offered a gymnasium that was empty several days a week, and the plan fell into place quickly.

Basketball Ministry in the Making

“Once we had the gym space, a few passionate college basketball players looking to stay involved in the sport reached out and offered to help. From these, pre-existing partnerships was birthed A/Y Hoops, a basketball ministry for city-centric youth aged 11-19. For the month of June, we offered free clinics and open gym time throughout the week. During clinics, students had the opportunity to be coached by college athletes and guest coaches from our community. The guest coaches ranged from pastors who played at the college level, missionaries who played professionally overseas, an Executive Director who works closely with the Portland Trail Blazers, and other key community members who are faithful servants of Christ,” said YFC Portland Ministry Co-Director Benny Anctil.

“At the end of every clinic, the guest coach would share their testimony and present the Gospel to the young people in attendance. As a result, we saw a dozen young people from the community make a first-time decision to follow Jesus. 12 young people who stumbled into a church building because they are passionate about basketball that are now 12 young people who are passionate about Jesus.”

City Life Ministry Site

But the ministry was just getting started. “As June ended, we knew we had to continue to offer a safe community to these young people who had been engaging in A/Y Hoops,” continued Anctil. “As a result, we have launched our first City Life ministry site here at Youth For Christ Portland. Immediately following open gym on Wednesday afternoons, we have a meal and a City Life ministry. All summer we have seen middle school and high school teens pour in from all over the community. Between A/Y Hoops and East County City Life, our team engages with over 24 unchurched young people on a weekly basis. It has been the biggest privilege to watch God move within the hearts of young people from our city.”