June 30, 2023
NBTX Young Life is celebrating 30 years of supporting New Braunfels area teens in their journey searching for hope, meaning and belonging.
Brought to New Braunfels by Tom Bluntzer and Anna Lisa Bluntzer-Tamez in 1993 as a program tasked with introducing youth to Jesus Christ with about 30 New Braunfels area teenagers, NBTX Young Life has since grown to a ministry of around 600 middle and high school-aged-adolescents meeting weekly to share their Christian journey.
“We heard about Young Life through a relative who had attended a Young Life family camp in Buena Vista (Colorado), and we asked at the last minute if we could sign up and had room for us,” Anna Lisa said. “We had a fabulous time but knew nothing about Young Life then. We had a wonderful week, and my husband (Tom) decided we should bring this to New Braunfels.”
Cancer took Tom’s life shortly after founding the organization in New Braunfels. Anna Lisa is now married to Dr. Danny Tamez, who has also been involved in Young Life activities.
Ken White, who now operates a drug and alcohol treatment facility in the Bryan/College Station area, was the first hired NBTX Young Life staff member. He credits the efforts of Tom and a committee of individuals who worked to get the program to a successful starting point and fostered its growth.
“When you do good relational, incarnational ministry, it’s going to grow,” White said. “That’s just what it is. If you do Young Life right, it will grow because that’s the Gospel in action. I always taught my teens – you always love them the way you find them – there is no preconceived idea that this person may or may not make a fate decision with us, but people want to be loved. They want to be known and loved for who they are. I think that’s the strength of Young Life across the board.”
NBTX Young Life currently offers ministries for middle school and high school students and teen moms and hopes to continue adding staff and volunteers to continue the organization’s growth.
The staff and volunteers of the organization have become an active presence in the everyday lives of students at New Braunfels High School, New Braunfels Ninth Grade Center, Canyon High School, Davenport High School, New Braunfels Middle School, Oak Run Middle School, Church Hill Middle School and many other surrounding area schools.
Kids want to belong, and Young Life accepts them as they are and invites them to experience life at events such as:
• Club: Everyone is welcome at what is often called “a party with a purpose.” It’s a time of fun and talking about what matters in life.
• Camp: The “best week of your life” is a time of extravagant adventure when kids get to be real, sit at the table and learn that God loves them more than they imagined.
• Campaigners: Kids and leaders open the Bible together and discuss what it means to follow Jesus Christ.
J. W. Harle, metro director of Comal County Young Life, said the organization continues to grow.
“Some organizations may sputter out or reach a plateau, then just hope to maintain course, but I can tell you with both confidence and excitement that NBTX Young Life is growing and growing fast,” Harle said. “But this should come as no surprise as our community is growing. I suspect many people moving into the area have been impacted by Young Life at some point in their teen or early adult years, and we want them to know Young Life is happening right here in New Braunfels in the high schools and middle schools.”
The organization is planning a huge celebration inviting anyone and everyone touched by NBTX Young Life over the last 30 years on Oct. 21 at 444, an event venue at 444 E. San Antonio St.
“We’ve been here 30 years, and we plan to be here another 30 and beyond, positively impacting teenagers with the good news about Jesus through caring relationships,” Harle said.
Young Life was originally started in 1941 by Jim Rayburn in Gainesville, Texas, as a ministry designed to target unchurched high school-aged students. Today, Young Life is a global organization with a local focus in more than 100 countries worldwide, with ministries reaching more than 2.6 million middle school, high school and college students, as well as teen moms and kids with special needs.
For more information, visit www.nbtx.younglife.org or on Instagram and Facebook @nbtxyounglife, @nbtxwyldlife and @nbtxyounglives.