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Resourcing New Students

Tristan Jepson starts Youth Alive ministry in Wyoming.

U.S. Missions career associate Tristan A. Jepson worked as a youth pastor in Oregon for seven years, but in 2021 says she felt called by God to plant a Youth Alive chapter in Wyoming.

A year ago, Jepson, 36, and her husband, Rich, along with their three children — 9-year-old Benjamin, 5-year-old Alexander, and 2-year-old Aerilyn — moved to Douglas, Wyoming, where she began connecting with churches and schools in the area to launch Youth Alive, a department of U.S. Missions.

Youth Alive focuses on reaching middle and high school students through campus clubs, school assemblies, and community outreaches.

“I’m grateful that God sent Tristan and her family to promote and develop Youth Alive ministry in Wyoming schools,” says Alan H. Schaberg, superintendent of the AG Wyoming Ministry Network. “Our network has made a deliberate investment in the students throughout our state, and Tristan’s leadership and passion will greatly complement that objective.”

Wyoming may be the least populated state in America, but Jepson has a big vision. Jepson uses district events, summer camps, and youth groups to network with students and gauge interest. Once she connects with students who are interested in forming a Youth Alive club in their school, she equips them with resources and training. Resources range from church planting materials that have been adapted to be relevant for a school setting to training on how to interact with school administrators.

Another primary vehicle for training, resource distribution, and relating with students has been Discord, a social messaging platform. Each month, Jepson hosts a training session that Youth Alive students can attend virtually via Discord that is geared specifically toward student interests. Jepson is currently involved in a session on how to talk with peers about controversial topics.

Early on, Jepson, a credentialed AG minister, held a meeting with Wyoming AG leaders. The same day, she says she received an encouraging phone call from Brandon C. Weddle, lead pastor of Mountain View Assembly in Ten Sleep.

Weddle, who didn’t know Jepson, explained that he and his wife had been praying for Youth Alive to start in Wyoming and they believed Jepson represented a direct answer to their prayers.

“That was an awesome confirmation as we were making that step of faith,” Jepson says.

Jepson, who holds both bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the AG’s Northwest University, also has been encouraged by students. She has found many teens who are passionate about their faith and ready to act. In Douglas, a growing town of 6,440, local club members decided to switch from meeting just once a week to meeting every morning to pray for their school.

“It’s amazing any time students say yes to share their story, learning how to share the gospel, or plant a club,” Jepson says “We have a generation of students who want to go all in for Jesus.”

Melissa Schill Penney

Melissa Schill Penney is a freelance writer and graduate of Wheaton College, residing in the Chicago area.