YFC Alumni: a Who’s Who of Christian Leaders

Brian Harmon
Special to ASSIST News Service
Thursday, April 30, 2009
ORANGE, CA (ANS) -- The Youth for Christ Alumni Fellowship is a virtual “Who’s Who” of Christian leaders, according to Larry Williams, Americas Area Director for YFC International.

(Billy Graham in his YFC days)
“It is almost unbelievable how many well know Christian leaders got their start in Youth for Christ,” Williams said.
The group is looking for former members of Youth for Christ who have gone on to form or direct other ministries, So far they have identified over 150 Christian leaders who got their start in Youth for Christ, according to Leslie Parker, Administrator for the alumni organization.
“I compiled it (the list of alumni) from an old list we have that I think was put together back in the early 90s and from a list I’ve created of more recent alums,”
Parker said.
The most famous YFC alumnus is undoubtedly Billy Graham who was the first full-time employee of Youth for Christ in the 1940’s. He conducted evangelistic campaigns for YFC in the United States and the United Kingdom prior to his becoming a world renowned evangelist following his 1949 crusade in Los Angeles.
Billy Graham said of his experience, “It was my privilege to be the first full-time employee of Youth for Christ. After 50 years, YFC continues to communicate the life changing message of Jesus Christ to our youth. We all know that the problems confronting today’s youth are staggering. I can think of no greater cause than to reach our youth for Christ.”
Cliff Barrows, long time associate of Billy Graham, also came up through Youth for Christ.
An internationally recognized alumnus of Youth for Christ, Bob Pierce, was the founder of World Vision, the world’s largest international Christian relief agency, now active in almost 100 countries. Perhaps Pierce’s best known quote is, “Let my heart be broken by the things that break the heart of God.” Bob Pierce also founded Samaritan’s Purse, which was later run by Billy Graham’s son Franklin Graham.
Other YFC alumni who were leaders of Christian International Relief Organizations include Merv Rosell of Global Concern, Roy McKeown of Global Concern and World Opportunities, Wendell Amstutz of National Counseling Resource Center and Keith Phillips of World Impact.
Ravi Zacharias, world renowned Christian apologist and founder of Ravi Zacharias International Ministries, is also an alumnus of Youth for Christ..
Another YFC alum was the late Christian composer Ralph Carmichael. He was the founder of Carmichael Enterprises, Lexicon Music and LIGHT. His songs include He's Everything to Me, Beyond All Time, All My Life, The Restless One, Tell It Like It Is, Love Is Surrender, Brother Let me Take Your Hand, My Little World and The Savior is Waiting, according to the website
“Some of you may remember the days when I was involved with Bob Pierce, founder of World Vision (and YFC alum), or at Youth For Christ Saturday Night Jubilee where I wrote We Are More Than Conquerors...or my association with the Far East Broadcasting Company and Bob Bowman,” Carmichael said.
Top Christian author Philip Yancey also got his start in Youth for Christ. One of his best known works is What is so Amazing About Grace? In it he tells captivating stories about the amazing constructive power of grace and the destructive power of what he calls ‘ungrace’. Reading the book has been a life-changing experience for many Christians. His other books include the recently released Prayer: Does it make a Difference? Where is God When it Hurts? Rumors of Another World, Disappointment With God, Finding God in all the Wrong Places and The Jesus I Never Knew about the Jewish background of Jesus.
Other writers who got their start in YFC include: Devotional writer Warren Wiersbe; Left Behind series co-author Jerry Jenkins; current CEO and Editor in Chief of Christianity Today Harold Smith; Chairman of Christianity Today International Harold Myra and CT Senior Writer Tim Stafford.
As of press time the latest addition to the YFC Alumni “Who’s Who” is Dick Snavely, founder of Family Life Ministries. Mr. Snavely tells about how his organization got its start in YFC. Now located in Bath, NY, Dick started Area Youth for Christ in 1957 in the Finger Lakes region of Western NY. Over the years Area YFC expanded to include adult programs, family and marriage counseling and a network of FM radio stations. In 1964 the ministry changed its name to Family Life Ministries to reflect its expanded ministry offerings.
The Family Life Network began in 1983 and is a listener-supported Christian radio network that broadcasts in many areas of New York and Pennsylvania. FLN is a division of Family Life Ministries and reaches a potential listenership of 3.5 million.
After directing YFC and then Family Life for nearly fifty years Dick stepped down to CFO and appointed his son, Rick, as president and CEO. Dick and his wife Jackie, have been married for 56 years. They have four children and eleven grand-children. Interested individuals can learn more about Family Life by visiting their website at Dick also has a book out about his life and the history of Family Life Ministries titled An Ordinary Guy with the Extraordinary God. It is published by Xulon Press and is available on
Another YFC alum is Larry Kreider, founder of the Gathering, an organization that presents major outreach events for men showcasing well-known personalities who have had their lives transformed by a living Christ.
Not surprisingly, many Youth for Christ alums went on to start or lead youth ministries. These include Dick Weidner, co-founder of Teen Discovery; Loren Soft of Yellowstone Boys & Girls Ranch; Bob Simpson of Strategic Kingdom Youth (SKY) Ministries; Joe Schultz founder of Campus Living Assoc.; Al Metsker (deceased) of Youth Evangelism Assoc.; Rick Little of International Youth Foundation; James M. Leckie, founder of Family Ministries and Youth Guidance; Ray Clendenan of Teen Ranch; Victor Eliason, Voice of Christian Youth (Milwaukee); Joe Ellis, Jr., co-founder of Teen Discovery; Don Landis of Jackson Hole Bible College; Jerry Landrum of Youth Outreach; Chris Clark, founder of Children of the Nations; Mel Johnson (deceased) of Tips for Teens and Young World Radio; Wes Arum of Living Waters Circle Ranch; and Youth Specialties co-founders Mike Yaconelli (deceased) and Tic Long.
Other YFC alumni who are founders and co-founders of Christian organizations include:
Ken Anderson - deceased Ken Anderson Films and Gospel Films
Floyd Ankerberg - deceased Ankerberg Evangelistic Association
John Ankerberg Ankerberg Theological Research
Art Brown Editora Vida Nova (New Life Publishers)
Ken Davis Dynamic Communications International
Fred Carpenter Mars Hill Productions
Ralph Cavanaugh Outreach of Delaware
Chris Clark Children of the Nations
Warren Bolthouse Family Life Radio Network
Randy L. Carlson Family Life Radio Network
Ray W. Carpenter Encouragement Resources
Wayne Coombs Adam Children’s Fund International
Jack Cox Ankerberg Evangelistic Association
Alan Davis The ProSource Group and the National Council on Child Abuse and Family Violence
Ken Davis Dynamic Communications Intl
Paul E. Freed Trans World Radio
Bob Evans Greater Europe Mission
Bob Finley Christian Aid Mission and International Students
Paul E. Freed Trans World Radio
Marv Hollenbeck ARC Ministries
Jim Hullihan Motivational Media Assemblies and Camfel Productions
Bob Neff, Sr. Bob Neff Tours, Inc.
Jack Larson World Servants
The YFC Alumni Fellowship would love to hear from you if you are also an alum! Please visit and sign up on their website at or call 1-877-YFC-ALUM.