By Jed Barber | Contributor
The image of a red barn calls several ideas to mind, but few would associate it with effective youth ministry.
Senior Chester Chan has volunteered at the local ministry the RedBarn ever since his freshman year. This has allowed him to minister to several people during his time at Taylor University.
Chan learned about the RedBarn shortly after arriving on campus. He first became interested when he saw several posters around campus, and he had always desired to work with children.
"I always enjoyed sitting with freshmen during my senior year (in high school)," Chan said.
He later started to make connections with the organization when two friends of his, a senior and a fellow freshman, started encouraging him to volunteer at the Upland-based ministry.
"What I call it is an after school safe place," Chan said.
The RedBarn also serves as a regular bus stop for the local middle and high school. It allows for young people to have an environment free from both the stresses of home and school where they can grow.
Chan served at the RedBarn for the past three years. This gave him the opportunity to affect the lives of several people throughout his time at serving. However, the two directors of the RedBarn carry the most influence.
Married couple Troy and Liz Shockey operate the RedBarn. They make sure all of its operations run smoothly.
"They're a mom and dad to every kid that comes through, for those that want that kind of relationship," Chan said. Several barn moms help with the daily tasks of making sure several children stay out of trouble after school.
The RedBarn draws children from different backgrounds. Some kids come from stable homes with loving families, and for them, the RedBarn serves as a fun after school activity. However, many of the attendees do not have the same home life.
The RedBarn ends up becoming more of home for those with trouble at their homes than it does for the people with stable homes.
"The students from safer homes come less consistently," Chan said. However, the mix does lead to discussion between different people with different views.
The RedBarn also serves as an example to nonbelievers as to how believers should act. Many of the children that come to spend their afternoon have little experience with faith. According to Chan, some of the children go to youth group outside of the RedBarn, but some do not have the opportunity to go to a youth group outside of that. The RedBarn gives these children an example of how a Christian should act.
"It's nice to let kids know that a trustworthy Christian is not an anomaly," Chan said.
The true growth comes from both the students and the workers. When a volunteer or barn mom helps a student to mature, it has a similar effect to the mentor. The RedBarn provides a place where people can go to escape their issues, whether they do this by playing some games or by forgetting what's ailing them to focus on someone else for a period of time.
For Chan, the RedBarn gives him an opportunity to pour the grace he has been given into those who are younger and less experienced than he is. It also leads young people to an example of Christ that they may never have encountered otherwise.
Taylor students can get involved with volunteering at the RedBarn by emailing Troy Shockey at email@example.com.