Collin Dwigans grew up in LaGrange and as is the case in many small Texas towns, there wasn’t a whole lot for high school kids to do that didn’t involve trouble.
Young Life, a non-denominational Christian organization, saved his life, Dwigans said.
And that’s why he and his friend Ryan Pacher, a graduate of Sealy High School and Texas A&M, want to initiate the program locally.
“I had a great childhood, but it was never enough,” Dwigans said. “I went through a lot of dark times, especially after football was over. When that ended, it was kind of like, what do I do now? So I went to parties instead. I had nothing else. I was raised in the church but I never really cared about it. I felt like there was something more, but I didn’t know what it was. When I went to Young Life, the leaders saw this kid who needed somebody to care about him. They never gave up.”
An informational meeting to talk about a local chapter of Young Life is planned for 4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, at Sealy’s Hill Community Center and is open to the public. Students interested in joining the program, as well as parents and potential volunteers are welcome to attend.
“We had Young Life when I was in high school, and Sealy really needs it,” Dwigans said. “Times are changing and there’s a lot of bad things happening in the world.”
Dwigans and Pacher met at Lifebridge Community Church in January and became fast friends. They started brainstorming the idea of a youth program that doesn’t compete with other local church youth group activities.
“Our goal is to work alongside other churches in order to reach as many hearts as possible,” Pacher said.
The pair has talked with Sealy ISD Superintendent Sheryl Moore and some Sealy City Council members. The city has offered meeting space at Liedertafel Hall and the Hill Community Center for the program. The local skating rink has volunteered to host events. They’ve met with Young Life leaders in Katy and Bellville, who said that up to 300 youth attend some of their events.
“I felt like the Lord was saying, ‘This is something you need to consider.’ We took a couple of weeks to pray about it and it was very obvious we were supposed to do something,” Pacher said. “It’s been cool to see how the Lord has opened doors throughout this whole process. Prayers are being answered.”
Pacher grew up in a Christian home and attended a Lutheran church every Sunday but said he didn’t “choose a righteous path” until he got involved in some leadership programs at Texas A&M.
“I was surrounded by a lot of really awesome people,” he said. “Organizations don’t change people; people change people. This starts with adults who are concerned about kids and go to them, on their turf and in their culture, building bridges of authentic friendship.”
They’re hoping to get Sealy coaches and teachers on board.
“Lives are dramatically influenced when caring adults come alongside young people, sharing God's love with them,” Pacher said. “Young Life leaders invite kids to follow Christ, care for them regardless of their response and change lives in the process. This relational ministry seeks to ‘earn the right to be heard’ with young people in hopes of them accepting Jesus Christ. Young Life seeks to provide a safe positive place for students to be themselves.”