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You Belong Here

Apr 20 2015


: A group of people that includes many families and relatives who have the same language, customs, and beliefs.
: A group of people who have the same job or interest.
: A large family.

Every student who comes to any Young & Free event, whether it be our weekly Youth programs or Conferences, immediately gets connected into a Tribe family.

I remember the first time I stood in front of my Tribe. I remember looking out at the students before me: the academics, the quiet kids, the sporty kids, the fashion conscious, the musicians and everything in between and I thought to myself, “They don’t know it yet but these people are going to be family and this family is going to be great.” But…how would this work? How do you make students from all backgrounds, ages and groups get along? I had no idea. All I knew was what we stood for:

x Come as you are (because that is Jesus’ posture towards the world)
x Family is for everybody

And that’s where my journey in what we affectionately call the Blue Tribe Crew (BTC) began. We did everything we could to make sure that every student knew that they were not just a number in a crowd; they belonged here. Weekly RDGs, Friday nights, phone calls, Sunday church, weekly tribe hangouts outside of a church setting happened consistently. And somewhere along the way our “one day family” thoughts have now become a reality.

In a few months, we have Young & Free Conference 2015 and this is easily one of my favourite privileges I have as a leader to be part of. Yes there will be weeks of building tribe equipment & creating chants in the lead up, and making sure that we buy enough face-paint to paint the Great Wall of China. Yes, there will be 5:30am wake-up calls each day of Conference to be on time for morning leaders’ meetings in the cold, giving 150% all day and then getting home at midnight after helping students get home each night but what gets me most excited is the fact that youth from around Australia and the world will come together and stand united as a whole family as we seek God.

It’s not just the face painting or the chants, dancing or the tribal wars that make it awesome. It’s not even the great Instagram pictures, or how much we spend our voices praying for and talking to students, or screaming our faces off in Tribal Wars. Long after the paint has washed off and our voices return, long after Young & Free Conference is over and the reality of school hallways and homework resumes – you realise what actually matters.

What actually matters is that we spend all our energy to create an environment where young people know there are people who are with them on their journey, encouraging them to seek and live the life God has for them.

That it doesn’t matter what has happened or what they’ve done, where they’re from, their gender or age, their home or school environment.

It’s the knowing that they have a place to belong, and that they’re part of something bigger than themselves and for someone greater than us all makes it unforgettable.

Danii Mariner
WildLife Tribal Leader