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Our weekly newsletter filled with news, updates, and inspiring stories of how God is working in the Bay Area.

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The summer is fast approaching, and it is a season of change especially for our high school students who are wrapping up one school year and ready for the next chapter of their lives. Summer is an exciting time for our Y-Ministry; it’s full of life-changing opportunities and memories at Y-Camps, devotionals, summer scholarship programs, and everything in between.

Kicking off the summer at “Glow Up”
I will make sure your name is remembered by all future generations so that the people will offer you thanks and praise now and forever.

Psalm 45:17 Voice

There is something incredible about hundreds of teenagers coming together with a shared vision of changing the world. A few weeks ago at Common Ground, we saw just that.

For years, statistics have told us that Christianity is on the decline in America, but we purchased the Common Ground building in Sunnyvale in hopes that we could inspire Gen Z (and beyond) to rise up and take hold of the vision God has for their lives. We saw our hope become reality at our first congregational teen devotional of 2023. The room was buzzing with energy as teenagers poured in, ready and excited to connect with old and new friends and to hear what God had to tell them.

The night was about “Finding Our Why”—why we’re here, why God chose us, and why we’re meant to change the lives of those around us. After a taco bar and some friendly competition, a panel of high school and college students answered questions about what it was like for them to study the Bible and discover God for themselves.

Sam and Tenea Manuel led an inspiring keynote lesson about finding faith, meaning, and purpose in God’s Word. Then we wrapped up the night with s’mores, games, and good conversations about discovering God for ourselves.

We called this devotional “Glow Up,” which is a phrase that describes positive personal growth and transformation, and the night was definitely aglow as teenagers left with vision and inspiration, determined to make a difference in the world.

Keeping the season of change going at Y-Camp
When we look at our graduating class, we see so many lives that have been transformed by God over the years, especially at our Y-Camps. This is why we’re excited about our upcoming 2023 Summer Y-camp, themed, “This is Why.”

“This is how much God loved the world: He gave his Son, his one and only Son. And this is why: so that no one need be destroyed; by believing in him, anyone can have a whole and lasting life. God didn’t go to all the trouble of sending his Son merely to point an accusing finger, telling the world how bad it was. He came to help, to put the world right again…”

John 3:16-18 MSG

The American author Mark Twain is famous for saying: “The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” Though important, a question we rarely ask ourselves in life is “Why?” Why do I feel lonely? Why do I worry so much? Why do I have this challenge in my life?

When we know the whys in our life we can become happy, secure, and confident.

At our 2023 Y-Camps we are going to surface, explore, and answer the questions to the “whys” in our lives. We encourage every teen coming to camp this summer to have the curiosity to question, doubt and discover their why! You can register your teen for camp at Sign up quickly because we’re closing registration soon!

Discovering our “Why”
Kai Marquez from the SF teen ministry is just one of many examples of teens whom God guided to discover his “Why” at teen camp.

Kai constantly found himself living in the shadows of his sisters and peers, unaware of who God wanted him to be. Deep insecurities, fears, guilt, and bitterness had a grip on him. When he came to Y-Camp, he was inspired by the vulnerability and transparency he developed in relationships there. He learned how these kinds of friendships and freedom from fear and guilt were only made possible by having a relationship with God. He decided to pursue God and take studying the Bible seriously.

Through studying the Bible and spiritual friendships, he discovered why God pursued him—why God made Kai who he was with his strengths, weaknesses, family, and sins. He was moved by the fact that God wanted a relationship and not a performance from him. Inspired by God and his purpose, Kai decided to respond to God’s vision and became a Christian in the months following Y-Camp.

Because of the newfound courage and conviction he developed from his relationship with God, Kai started building friendships and making an impact at home and at school. He tried out for the Washington High School wrestling team, and his team went on to win the City league championship and advance to the State finals. Kai became good friends with one of his wrestling teammates, who was inspired by Kai’s heart for God and their friendship. Together they became co-captains of their wrestling team and led them to back-to-back division titles. Kai is now studying the Bible with his co-captain along with the other SF Teens, and both are look forward to coming to this summer’s Y-Camp.

Living Our “Why”
“You are the light that shines for the world to see. You are like a city built on a hill that cannot be hidden. People don’t hide a lamp under a bowl. They put it on a lampstand. Then the light shines for everyone in the house. In the same way, you should be a light for other people. Live so that they will see the good things you do and praise your Father in heaven.”

Matthew 5:14-16 ERV

Kai just graduated from Washington High school in San Francisco this week, and was the recipient of the “Principal Ruth Adams Cup” Award for “Exemplary Selfless Community Involvement.” Passionate about God’s purpose for him to change lives through doing good, Kai helped organize student activities such as field trips and game meetups. He also facilitated discussion groups to foster and build encouraging relationships between student athletes in his AIMS group (Athletes In Math Succeed) and students with special needs. Kai is looking forward to living out his “why” as he goes to college in San Francisco and continues to make an impact this fall in the SF campus ministry.

Kai’s story is one of many of our other teens, whose lives have been completely transformed through the Y-Camps. This is why we are looking forward to seeing so many other teens and their lives changed at our upcoming summer camps!

Until next time,

Ray & Amy Kim

West Bay Lead Ministers

Written by

Ray Kim

Ray Kim is a Southern California native who made the Bay Area his home after graduating from the University of California, Berkeley. He is passionate about community service, and is spearheading such efforts as the E-Hoops program at the University of San Francisco.