You can easily say I’m a product of the ministry of Youth for Christ. My Grandparents Floyd and Wanda Kitchen were involved with the Voice of Christian Youth (Detroit; when founded in 1938 had the motto of Youth for Christ and eventually changed its name to Detroit Metro Youth for Christ). My Parents Dale and Vicky Bishop were independently involved with Voice of Christian Youth while they were growing up and met at Pine Hills Camp. My father Dale joined the Staff in 1972 and they married in 1973. My dad’s supervising staff was our cousin Bob Vaden, who was instrumental in working with troubled teens in the Detroit area and transitioned to work with Teens at Pine Hills Camp in Brighton. When I came along, my dad had 6 years of being on staff under his belt and I grew up surrounded by staff faithfully working with teens in the ministry of Youth for Christ.
Some of my earliest memories are going down to the Youth for Christ offices to see my dad and sometimes helping pack for backpack trips, helping (where I could) build “the Scream in the Dark” and going sledding on the small hill behind the office next to the Rouge River. I remember being around and seeing teens accepting Jesus as their savior at special events at the YFC Office and unfortunately seeing teens making poor decisions.
While Young I decided to follow Christ while home sick from school when my mother explained sin as a disease that could only be cured by the sacrifice Jesus made for us when he died on the cross. That was the first step in my faith journey that I didn’t totally understand but got to understand over time.
Some of my fathers’ ministry partners wanted me and my brother to get a good education and helped to put us through Southfield Christian School, which was a struggle coming from Detroit Public schools. I entered 6th grade with a 4th-grade reading level. I reluctantly struggled to do better in school as it was a strange new world for me. Long and short, I was able to deepen my relationship with Christ as I Graduated from Southfield Christian in 1996. And started college at William Tyndale College in Farmington Hills, Michigan.
In 1997, Wildwood Ranch hired me for the first of two years as a counselor during their summer camps. I learned a lot about endurance in ministry during those summer months. And during the school year, I volunteered with Youth for Christ clubs in Detroit. As 1999’s summer was drawing near, I was asked to think about coming on staff as an intern with Detroit Metro Youth for Christ. So, I made some attempts to raise money to join the summer staff and raised enough to work into the fall continuing to work with students I had gotten to know over the previous few years.
As Graduation neared in 2001, I was asked to consider joining the staff at Youth for Christ in Detroit starting upon completion of my college education. In 2002, this beautiful woman showed up for an internship and after several months of working together we decided to go out for a date, well I fooled her enough, so she married me on February 29, 2004. We started our family and have three beautiful girls; Audra, Cora, and Tessa (all of which have helped out in the ministry over the years).
In 2001, I was asked to restart the ministry in Hazel Park which my Cousin Bob Vaden started in the 1950s. As I write this, we have Campus Life clubs for both High School and Jr. High, and YFC Core Teams in the High School and Jr. High. I have watched God do many miraculous things over the years from providing for needs to watching teens finally catch the vision of Christ’s love and purpose for them.
I had the honor of seeing many Godly men and women give both good and at times unfortunate failing examples of what meant to love and serve Christ. Through their examples, I have been able to see how the value of a steadfast example to share Christ’s love can impact young people. It has been an honor to serve Him by working with teens in the Detroit Metro area and hopes it’s only the beginning of what God will do and allow me to be a part of. Even though at times the ministry has been heartbreaking, I have loved seeing what God has done in the lives of teens in and through the ministry of Youth for Christ. If you have ever thought about getting involved in the lives of teens, I would encourage you to contact me (check out our Join Page) and would love to hear about how God can use you to impact the lives of teens for Christ’s Kingdom.