Youth For Christ is committed to reaching young people with God’s love by walking alongside teens through pivotal moments in their lives. This mission compels YFC to seek out those on the fringe of society who are overlooked and underserved.
One of YFC’s most unique chapters is found in Cape Cod, a maritime region in Massachusetts that is traditionally associated with affluence and summertime tourism. Yet as with any affluent area, a number of disadvantaged families also call the peninsula home. In addition to its fluctuating population, Cape Cod’s geography poses unique challenges to young people living there.
The Challenges of Cape Cod
Emelio Gassibe, Executive Director of YFC Cape Cod, shared that “Cape Cod is isolated in many ways, which isolates students. One of our biggest challenges with young people is mental health issues.”
In addition, many teens in the area live in single-parent households, often without a father.
Gassibe said, “Many of our students come from broken families, which causes these young people to struggle, as it often negatively affects their worldview and how they see life.”
Like many states, Massachusetts is struggling with an opioid crisis, with 2,357 confirmed and estimated opioid-related overdose deaths occurring in 2022, surpassing the previous peak in 2021.
Gassibe shared, “There’s a lot of substance abuse in this area. Cape Cod is known to have a big opiate crisis, and it’s been this way for years. And many students are caught up in using as well.”
A Lighthouse Of Hope And Safety
YFC Cape Cod breaks through these dark circumstances to provide a lighthouse of hope and safety for the young people in the region, offering a robust schedule of clubs, events and trips.
In the last year, YFC Cape Cod held 21 events and trips, hosted 50 club meetings, successfully engaged with over 250 students and saw a total of 41 students make a commitment to follow Christ. In 2022, 22% of teens who attended these events began a relationship with Jesus. Yet no matter the forum, students ultimately respond to simply being loved.
Gassibe said, “We share the gospel with students through building relationships with them. Whether it’s eating pizza together, playing a fun game or just being goofy, they really enjoy that environment, and it gives them a space to feel safe. They see they can trust us. They know they can share their heart without being judged. And that’s the environment we create around our meetings. We find that a lot of students make a decision to follow Christ because they are in a safe space.”
Gassibe summarized, “We pursue kids who are in really difficult circumstances — the disenfranchised, the hurting, those who feel lost. Every hour of effort, every dollar raised and every volunteer added to our team is crucial, helping us as we come alongside young people and show them that they are God’s masterpiece. We’re just excited to be part of God’s plan for their lives.”