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Check Out Jeff Shicks Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jeff Shicks.

Hi Jeff, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
My life story started as a young boy in a small farming town in Ohio, growing up with a love for animals, fishing, roller skating, riding horses, and long walks in the woods.

And as high school came to an end, I married my high school sweetheart and we began serving teenagers in the community while trying to figure life out as a young couple. A few years into this adventure called life, I became a police officer, spending my days on bicycle patrol, speaking in school assemblies, and trying to help probationary teenagers get their life turned around.

In 1995, we sold our house (without having jobs) and moved to Fort Myers, Florida where eventually I started running a youth center (The Bridge) where teenagers could come after school and hang out, learn boxing and MMA, or get help with school work. I also became a gang specialist and served as a chaplain in the detention center in Florida for about 14 years.

About 6,500 teenagers later we felt like God was calling us to a new chapter and decided to move to Nashville, Tennessee area in 2009, where our adult daughter already lived. I took a ministry position with Nashville Youth For Christ and am still serving and learning alongside teenagers with this ministry.

Today I am a consistent seat and a listening ear to incarcerated teenagers in several detention facilities, working with dozens of teenage moms and dads and their babies helping them to finish high school and be good parents, serving over 500+ students each week in schools/community centers and neighborhoods around Middle Tennessee as the Executive Director of Nashville Youth for Christ.

I wouldn’t have made it this long in student ministry without:

1. My incredible wife; (my high school sweetheart) has encouraged me, loved me, prayed for me, cried with me through the greatest of hardships, and has celebrated with me through the many joys. We have been together 43 years and married 39 years this month. I also have great kids who have continued to value helping others above themselves.

2. My strong foundation in Christ. I didn’t always get it right and I still don’t; as a husband, minister of the gospel, a dad, a boss, and a friend, one thing that I know is, that foundational issues and misalignment will always grow fruitless trees for the Kingdom.

Talking heads don’t create transformation, talking hearts do. There were seasons of ministry, I poured from a bottomless cup, and many things suffered for it. Thankfully God, in His rich mercy and love, met me there and he will meet you in those seasons of brokenness and bring you back to Him.

3. I also wouldn’t be talking about 40+ years of ministry today without an incredible team of staff, board, leaders, partners, and my home church walking alongside me. Great leaders are great learners. And they teach me so much! One of my greatest privileges in ministry is learning from people like my Pastors; Gary Cox in Florida and Randy Cordell in Nashville – both of who have served as lead pastors for over 25 years.

Also alongside my daughter, Melissa, we have worked together in ministry for 20+ years and it brings me so much joy working beside her. She still encourages me to keep dreaming big dreams of someday having a youth center and building a safe home for kids to go to.

I will leave you with this… my life story wouldn’t be one that has had a “ripple effect” on others without the incredible work of a loving Heavenly Father in my life. Every day, I try my best to love everyone as God has loved me and I am so thankful I get to wake up and serve students and their families in the Nashville, Tennessee area!

Alright, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall, and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
On paper, I am unqualified for the positions that God has placed me in, but I have learned that God’s call on your life overrides your personal qualifications.

In my 40 years of doing ministry, I have experienced great joy over seeing the lives of students changed for the better, but I have also experienced great pain, seeing the devastating effects of teenage drug addiction, teen violence, unhealthy relationships, and poor life choices.

For every graduation or wedding, I go to each year, there are funerals; small caskets that should never have to be made. Some might think ministry is an easy job; that you just “hang out with kids all day,” But for every easy moment, there are many more hard moments to overcome.

I still remember pleading with a young man named Billy to let me help get him help to turn from his addiction and him telling me “no.” I still feel the heavy hug of his grandmother at his funeral. Ministry can be hard; it will have seasons of suffering and tragedy. But I didn’t fall into ministry for just the fun of it. I didn’t “fall” into it at all.

I actually gave up a well-paying job as a police officer and as a superintend building homes to do full-time ministry and I fell into the arms of a loving God who created a deep desire in me to help those who are hurting, feed the hungry, encourage the broken, build up the weak and fight for those who feel unheard and unseen.

Alright, so let’s switch gears a bit and talk business. What should we know about your work?
Nashville YFC is part of: YFC is a Christian movement, with over 130 chapters across the country. Also part of a network that reaches across the entire globe.

YFC pursues young people who often feel overlooked, to build relationships at pivotal moments.

YFC partners with the local churches and like-minded organizations to reach young people everywhere possible.

We believe the Gospel comes to life in the overlap of God’s story, our story, and a young person’s story.

Alright so before we go can you talk to us a bit about how people can work with you, collaborate with you or support you?
Connect with us on the web at: https://nashvilleyfc.org/.

We offer many areas to connect with and volunteer with students in our four core programs:

Campus Life – in public middle and high schools

City Life – in Community centers and neighborhoods

Parent Life – Our teen moms and dads

Juvenile Justice Ministry (JJM) serves in several detention centers.

Additional info is available at: https://nashvilleyfc.org/ministries/

To volunteer go to:
https://nashvilleyfc.org/get-involved/volunteer/

If you would like to help support the work we do with teenagers go to:
https://nashvilleyfc.org/donate-now/

Contact Info:


Image Credits

Over The Edge rappelling photo by: https://www.vonreischphotography.com/about

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