Tic Long and His Youth Group
By YS on August 18 2008
is the President of Events for YS. So if you've been to NYWC, The Core, (YS One Day) DCLA, or one of our other events you've been to one of the events he oversees. Recently, I had the chance to talk to Tic about his time in youth group.
What was the name of your youth group?
We didn’t have one it was just good old youth group.
Do you remember the first time you went to youth group? What was it like?
I totally remember my first experience with a church youth group as a perfectly happy with where I as pagan kid. My older sister (by 11 years) had become a Christian and was now interested in my spiritual state. She got me invited to the youth groups Halloween costume party. I was in 9th grade and went with my girlfriend and we did not know anybody. As a freshman I was the shortest guy in at my high school standing a whopping 4’11” and weighing in at a good, lets say about 85lbs…what a specimen.
Anyway, all three of my older sisters were cheerleaders in high school so there were all kinds of cheer outfits around the house. So with their help (and they were way too eager) I went to the party as a girl cheerleader with wig, makeup, the whole deal. I was sure I was going to win one of the prizes for the best costume. We had a fun time and everyone was really cool and it was way more fun than I expected for a “church thing”. Well it ended up the whole evening until the point where I pulled off my wig everyone thought I WAS a girl! I didn’t win squat because everyone thought it was lame for a girl to wear her cheerleading outfit to the party. Well I was pissed and left with my masculinity a bit shaken as well but had a good enough time to say yes when my sister arranged for me to go on a ski trip (outreach weekend) that winter that changed my life forever but that is another story
Tell us about your youth leader.
I loved my youth pastor. He poured his life into me and others. I was a wild child and really put him through the ringer but he never gave up on me. My dad was not involved in my life and he really became a father figure to me. He saw things in me that I could not see in myself. He trusted me and developed me as a leader. Our youth group was amazing with lots of folks becoming Christians (like I did) and many people going into full time ministry during his time there. Even after I left if he said jump I would say how high, he was so important in my life. Here is the wild thing, later I learned that he was really a sociopath who had sexually abused his own children a few years after I had left and had affairs in his next 4 churches where he served and in the end murdered his wife about 10 years ago, but again that is another story for another day
Share a memory of an activity you did as a group.
We generally had about 50-60 students at out midweek bible studies, or youth group meetings or events and often had many more. One of our favorite things to do (and I just a couple months ago saw a youtube video of people doing this a grand central station in NYC) would be to spread out and walk through a restaurant, airport (obliviously before today’s security) really almost any crowded public place and as we were walking on signal (usually a false sneeze) all of us would freeze and stay as perfectly still as possible, trying to be mannequins, which by the way is what we called this little game. After 2-4 minutes and again on a signal we would resume walking as if nothing happened. It would just freak people out.
What’s one thing that you learned in youth group that has stuck with you since graduation?
The power of a loving community, the power of seeing people actively live out their faith in healthy relationships. That was what drew me to Jesus. I encountered this group of students that I could see had something I did not and lived n was I did not. Their lives and the way the loved one another not only caught my attention but drew me towards them to find out why.
If you could relay a message to your old youth pastor, what would it be.
I will never understand what happened to you but I will always be grateful for what God did in my life through you.