We sat down with Sara Trombley in anticipation of the 10 year celebration for Young Life at Arsenal Tech Public Schools. There will be a banquet on September 25th to celebrate 10 years of reaching out to the young east siders as well as to raise support for Tech Young Life. Sara gave us a peek inside the door that is Tech Young Life for us to share.
Sara’s title is the area director for Young Life at Arsenal Tech; a historic, east side school with over 2,500 students. As the hands and feet of the church, Sara and the Arsenal Tech Young Life team take the organization’s foundational mission into what seems like a culture in opposition to sustaining it. This mission is to invite kids to follow Christ, regardless of their response, and to change lives in the process.
One of the challenges that urban Young Life areas face is financial support and Tech would faced the same challenge. The traditional model of Young Life has had a bit of a different look when it comes to support for their Young Life teams. They simply afford the capacity to provide more.
Young Life’s committee members understood that starting ministry at Tech would be challenging and require a different game plan than the traditional suburban model.
Something amazing began to grow despite these challenges and the community made all the difference. Local churches and community members rallied around and provided support in many forms. Sara explained that this has been something truly special. 10 years of building relationships and creating a family that walks with kids through life, no matter their response to the gospel message. The pure celebration of not just 10 years of trying to impact kids at Tech, but a 10 years so meaningful and inspiring that other schools are coming to behold the beautiful relational garden that is growing within Tech Young Life. It is now becoming a model for other urban schools to plant the very same thing.
“It’s all about relationships. It’s about earning the right to be heard.” -Sara Trombley
The first thing that happens when a kid enters a conversation with a volunteer YL leader is that they are heard. No matter what they say or do, they aren’t turned away or sent out of the group. Conflict is addressed head on in attempts to model the gospel message of speaking the truth in love. These kids have a lot going on. Many of them have hard lives and stories to go with it. Sara and the people she trains are loving these kids differently by inviting them into a relationship with Jesus and, through Him, a heart change.
“Getting kicked out of school, turned away, or getting told things about themselves because of choices they might make is normal for our friends.” -Sara Trombley
Instead, YL has taken an invitational stance. They invite the kids to speak about it. They bring the kids together to not just be told what reconciliation is, but to take part in it for themselves. The last and maybe the most important piece of what Sara shared with us is that they are not only loving the teenagers that most people write off as a lost cause, but they are intentionally seeking those kids out.
“There was a large fight at the school not too long ago that was so big it made the news. A bunch of the kids [in the fight] had been with us [at Young Life] before and I said… we are doing the right thing. We are seeking out the right kids” -Sara Trombley
Sara and her staff spend their time finding the kids who are not getting chosen. They seek the kids who get kicked out, the ones who are not making the best choices, the ones that may be hurting the most… and they love them well. They serve them; not just through words but through tangible acts as well.
Young Life at Arsenal Tech is an amazing program that we at MATS.org are thrilled to help support. The upcoming banquet will be an uplifting celebration of all that has been done this year and in the last 10. It will be a great opportunity to hear what comes next for Tech Young Life and Young Life in urban Indianapolis. We’ve been inspired by this group and by these kids who are earning the right to be heard with the help of their friends.