By Jim Painter
For the Troy Daily News
TROY — Building a religious faith in high school teens is the goal of a Troy couple who literally take their work “on the road”. Not far down the road, but meeting local youth “where they are at” to let them know there is a positive way to go in their everyday lives, motives their efforts.
David and Katie Mason of Troy, for nearly two years, have served through Young Life, a worldwide ministry organization, whose aim is to bring the love, acceptance and understanding and God’s love to them.
Founded in 1941, the non-denominational group is based in Colorado Springs, Colo. Utilizing younger adults, Young Life places motivated people in towns such as Troy, Piqua, and other towns of such population, to spread the gospel to those in high school grades 9-12.
According to their latest figures posted on their website (younglife.org), as of June 15, 2015, the organization had ministries in 6,936 schools and other locations; and 68,385 volunteers in the U.S. and around the world. According to their statistics, they ministered to more than $1.8 million youth, in all.
Cincinnati native David Mason, 24, is a fulltime member of Youth Life having first learned of the organization through a friend while studying psychology at Miami University. Katie Mason, 26, originally from Columbus, is a second grade teacher for the Bethel Local Schools, and assists her husband in the ministry work. They met in college and were married in 2013.
David Mason earned a degree in psychology and underwent Youth Life faith training in Columbus for a year.
The concept is clear
He recently spoke about their efforts in Troy. He noted the duties are vast, but the concept is a simple one.
The Masons have no church or building. Their goal is not to build and create their own church, but to motivate teens to get positively “plugged into” their own churches or find one if they’re not attending.
“We meet teens where they’re at. This is non-denominational and we just come along side them to help them understand God’s word. We want them to know that we are not going to leave them or judge them,” Mason said.
“This is relationship driven. We may meet them at sports events, concerts, school plays, anywhere. We want to meet their parents so everyone has an understanding of what we are about. Every kid wants to find out who they are in life (as they approach adulthood). Our goal is to bridge that gap and let them know that people do care about them.”
Mason said he has met with local school administration and they are aware of their efforts. He has spoken with local church pastors saying they are finding support for their work.
Weekly gatherings, Bible study held in Troy
Youth Life was previously in Troy, but ceased in 1996. The Masons have revived the program and hold weekly “Campaigners” on Wednesdays at 6 p.m. The weekly gathering is part bible study, part positive fellowship time and part activity driven.
Usually held in the Mason’s home, meeting at a bowling alley, a city park or other locales are common. Bonfires and theme parties have also been included.
On average, some 15 to 20 youth attend each week. After Friday night football, as many as 30 to 40 youth enjoy the non-threatening atmosphere, Mason said.
The ministry is not the lone effort of the Masons. Adult volunteers help in many ways and many more are needed. They need help finding event locations, supplies, adult supervision at gatherings, and various organizational duties, Mason explained.
Financially, the ministry is supported by private donors, local churches, Troy Foundation, Miami County Foundation and others. A local fundraising banquet has been set for Oct. 11.
In March, the Masons took 12 youth from Troy High School to a weekend spiritual growth retreat in Cincinnati. The session included more that 600 same aged students from the region.
One student from Troy dedicated their life to Christ, according to Mason, who directs students to local churches for baptism.
In June, the Masons traveled with 28 youth to a camp called Rockbridge in Goshen, Va., for a similar retreat. The previous year, 12 students attended, a sign of the growing interest in Youth Life locally, he said.
In a Youth Life newsletter, Mason wrote about the retreats, stating, “We believe these kids will truly change the city of Troy.”
The local ministry can be found on Facebook at Troy Young Life. David Mason can be contacted by calling (513) 482-0229, or by e-mail at [email protected]
Reach Jim Painter at [email protected]