(Photo Courtesy of Bill Reazer)
But this is what has brought Reazer, a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri State University, back to the area.
Bill Reazer was hired in September as the area director for Southeast Missouri Young Life. He has returned to Cape Girardeau with his wife, Maria, and their four children after more than a decade on staff with Young Life in Kentucky, Tennessee and St. Louis.
"Young Life is a picture of adults meeting and being with kids and going after lost kids," Reazer said. "It includes Christian kids reaching out to their friends. The weekly club is a great place, a safe place to share the gospel. It's a place where kids are welcome and feel comfortable."
Reazer's own life is a testimony to the effect Young Life can have on teenagers. Reazer was a high school student when he got to know Brad Pearce, a Young Life employee at the time.
"Brad asked me to go to lunch with him at Burger King. He came to my football games, to see me play golf; he spent time with me. [At that point] I'm 16 years old and I've never had an older man pay any attention to me," Reazer said. "I'll never forget coming up to the third hole in a golf tournament and seeing Brad Pearce right there. I understood that somebody wanted to pour into me; I didn't get that at home.
"I was a kid that didn't have a father figure, and I didn't know the Lord. Now I can come back and share with my friends," he said, referring to the teenagers he's since developed relationships with.
Reazer was surprised with the multiple schooling options. He believes Young Life is essential at each location because "the needs remain the same -- you need someone to love you. It's about high school kids knowing Jesus."
In reacquainting himself with Central, Reazer said, "I don't know all that's going on, but the administration is wonderful and there are a lot of hurting, broken kids. It's exciting to be there."
Young Life has had a presence in Southeast Missouri for more than 26 years, and Reazer wants to build fresh support. He has been working with the existing volunteer leaders and is inviting and training new leaders.
"I pray the Lord will bring people who want to do this with us, people who are ingrained in the community and will be around for some time. It is awesome to see leaders with kids around town, at the school, at sporting events, at games, at [the leaders[']] houses."
Wyldlife is the part of Young Life and is geared toward junior high students.
"These days kids are going through stuff earlier," Reazer said.
He said he hopes for more help from parents and future leaders in Wyldlife and Young Life to get even more volunteers in the schools.
"If you go to the high school any day of the week, you will see a Young Life leader there. I realize that's what we do so well: We go where the kids are. By the way, it's pretty scary -- you try it," he said, laughing.