Joanna Clark, Young Life San Francisco
Joanna works with high schoolers through Young Life San Francisco and loves how they ask real questions about life, pretend like they know everything, and are down for pretty much anything.
She believes it is such an amazing experience to step into the life of a teenager and love them with the knowledge that Jesus loved her first and is the reason she is here at all. We asked Joanna some questions about her work, and here’s how she responded:
Share about what you do in your current ministry.
“My current role is the Area Director of Young Life San Francisco. I get the privilege of overseeing a group of amazing volunteers who give their time to be a part of the lives of kids. We go together to public middle and high schools in San Francisco and help kids with whatever is going on in their lives. Through our friendships with students, we get to become their friends, confidants, and share both the Gospel and our lives with them. Most of the kids that we work with in San Francisco have never stepped foot in a church and they have often not heard anything about Jesus and don’t know what they symbol of the cross means. We have clubs and camps where kids get to be kids, feel safe and loved, and laugh — and I think that is what makes all the difference for them to understand and experience the love of God.”
What do you love about this work?
“I love that my job is relational. I get to work by caring for people and seeing the ways that God is working in their lives. Even if a person thinks that they are far away from having a relationship with Jesus, I get to talk to them about where they are at or what they believe and don’t believe. I love watching kids’ and leaders’ lives change because of participation in the life of Christ.”
Describe something God has shown you during your time serving as a missionary.
“Since I have moved to San Francisco to work for Young Life, God has shown me that He does not move or work in any particular formula. When I first moved here, it seemed to me like all these students were so far from starting a relationship with Jesus and all I would do as a missionary was throw seeds and keep throwing. I never expected to see growth when the response I continually kept getting was, “I am a teenager and I have never heard this before. It is too hard to believe. No I’m not a Christian, but I liked learning about it.” However, just days or months later sometimes, the Holy Spirit will completely change these kids’ hearts and perspectives in unexpected times. It doesn’t matter what the Young Life structure is set up for. The Holy Spirit will move and inspire someone at any time!”
What has been your most memorable experience serving as a Missionary?
“My most memorable experience has been thinking of individual students who have had transformative moments with me. I think of a student named Jenna who told me she was Buddhist and didn’t want to be a Christian. However, after I had been in her life for a year and a half, she came to every event that Young Life had to offer and she would always say to me, “I can’t wait to hear about Jesus!” Although for the next three years she would say that she wasn’t a Christian, she was falling more and more in love with Jesus and trying to follow Him with her life. It reminded me so much of what the disciples were like, because they were following Him for a long time before they realized that they were Christians. It was after three years that they knew that changed their identity. Jenna now is at college and started going to a church and a Bible study on her own, and she has become a leader in the things that she is involved in. Four years ago, her life looked completely different, and I got to witness God transforming her through our relationship.”
To learn how to support Joanna’s ministry, please email her.
Meet Our Missionaries
Learn about some of our other Local Missionaries serving in the Bay Area.
Udom Setthaya, YWAM San Francisco
Originally from Thailand, Udom Setthaya serves with YWAM San Francisco through the Restoration Initiatives Ministry, which serves, restores, empowers, and disciples residents in the Tenderloin.Read their story
Steve & Kayla Binnquist, YWAM San Francisco
Steve and Kayla have been working with YWAM San Francisco since 2004 and 2010 respectively, and together they lead Restoration Initiatives, a ministry dedicated to restoring, empowering, and serving residents of San Francisco’s Tenderloin.Read their story