Union student starts ministry at UT Martin

Adam McCravy, senior political science major, poses for a photo with five high schoolers during their time at Young Life camp in Colorado. | Submitted photo by Ross Barnes

Adam McCravy, senior political science major and student staffer of Young Life, was talking with Steve Tilleros, area director of Jackson Young Life, about becoming the team leader of Union City’s team when it happened: McCravy lost his poker face for the first time. Tilleros had just informed him that he would be starting up college Young Life at The University of Tennessee at Martin.

Adam McCravy, senior political science major, poses for a photo with five high schoolers during their time at Young Life camp in Colorado. | Submitted photo by Ross Barnes
Adam McCravy, senior political science major, poses for a photo with five high schoolers during their time at Young Life camp in Colorado. | Submitted photo by Ross Barnes
“Adam usually does a good job not revealing if he’s nervous, but when I told him we had two jobs for him, he was visibly nervous,” said Tilleros.

McCravy had been a Young Life leader at Liberty Tech High School in Jackson for two years and had been a team leader for one and a half years. He led a group of high school boys that mostly graduated after his junior year at Union. This was part of the reason Tilleros thought it best for McCravy to be moved.

McCravy’s Young Life responsibilities were transferred to Union City and The University of Tennessee at Martin to help build morale. This would allow them to fundraise at the end of the year to raise the neccesary money to hire a full-time Young Life staff for the area.

Union City Young Life was already established when McCravy arrived, but in the absence of full-time staff, he stepped in to help lead the team and help teach them more about being leaders to high school students.

“We [McCravy and Tilleros] set out a timetable of finding and recruiting a team in early fall,” said McCravy. “Then I needed to work on training about what the mission of Young Life is, and make sure they were committed so when January rolled around we would be committed and ready to establish legitimate ministry in the spring.”

The plan proved more difficult to put into practice since McCravy only knew one person at UT Martin.

Adam McCravy, senior political science major, poses for a portrait during a Young Life Thanksgiving party. | Photo by Victor Miller, staff photographer
Adam McCravy, senior political science major, poses for a portrait during a Young Life Thanksgiving party. | Photo by Victor Miller, staff photographer
McCravy attended a student activities fair at the university, setting up a booth for Young Life. He hoped to raise awareness of the ministry by asking students if they were interested in becoming leaders or attending college Young Life.

“What he did was like being a missionary to the students at Martin,” said Tilleros.

Eventually McCravy was able to recruit a team of predominantly freshmen by hosting college Young Life clubs with the help of the Union City leaders. The next step was training and filling out the team with committed members.

This led McCravy to the realization that he needed another leader to complete the team. One of the team members suggested Ronny Cox.

Cox met with McCravy several times and they talked about the mission and ministry of Young Life in which Cox became increasingly interested.

“Adam is a great teacher,” said Cox. “He has a natural love for people that allows him to look past their flaws and see their potential.”

McCravy’s training for the new leaders involved meeting with the team once a week before they held Young Life club. Hosting a club was hard because the most of the new leaders had no experience with Young Life before meeting McCravy. This forced him to use friends and leaders from Jackson and Union City to help him host a club in Martin.

McCravy says he is involved in Young Life because of the positive influence Young Life leaders had in his life when he was in high school in Jackson, Tennessee.

“My leaders in high school gave me an example of how to live life with Jesus, and I didn’t know any other way at the time,” said McCravy. This created in him a desire to become a leader when he attended Union.

Throughout his time as a leader to high schoolers he has taken students to camp, led small-group bible studies and been a part of leading high schoolers to life with Jesus. Some of those students have even become Young Life leaders once they went to college.

“Adam is a loving guy with a heart for people who are hurting,” said Cox. “He has a great understanding of scripture, and he relates this knowledge to whatever the situation happens to be at the time.”

Young Life has not just been a way for McCravy to help others. Over the four years he has been a leader, he says he has grown more into the man he wants to be.

“Young Life has taught me how to have loving and trusting relationships with other people because I had to work with and depend on them,” said McCravy. “This has led to healing.”

After graduating this May, McCravy will be moving to Williamson County near Nashville, Tennessee where he will be going on Young Life field staff full-time in Williamson County.

Image courtesy of Victor Miller|Cardinal & Cream
About Caleb Lay 41 Articles
Caleb Lay, class of 2016, is the sports editor of the Cardinal & Cream. He is a journalism major from Paducah, KY. Caleb enjoys running, music, film, and sports.