It was 1992.
Wendell Broom, Professor Emeritus of Missions at Abilene Christian University, gathered a group of individuals experienced in missions and working with children. He told them how Christians were being invited to work in the Young Pioneers camps of Ukraine. Greg Perry, former director of ACU Leadership Camps and then a teacher and coach in Abilene, Texas, attended this meeting. He learned about these camps and the Ukrainian struggle to create positive change in their country following the demise of the Soviet Union.
In the summer of 1993, Greg and a team of co-workers traveled to Slavyanagorsk, Ukraine, to “scope out the possibilities.” This small group was welcomed into former youth camps and met people who would be key partners in future trips to Ukraine. On the train ride back to Kiev, the dreams for World Wide Youth Camps began and the mission was formally named between friends who were experiencing the thrill of sharing the gospel in this great country.
In 1995, World Wide Youth Camps were registered as 501(c)3 non-profit organization.
Since then, the ministry has worked not only in camps, but also in street ministries and orphanages in Ukraine, Russia, Kenya, Namibia, Croatia, Bosnia, Kazakhstan, Honduras, Brazil, Guatemala, Mexico, the United States, Germany, and Australia.
We have successfully launched self-sustaining mentoring communities in Russia and Belarus which actively share God’s love with vulnerable youth.
We continue to develop mentoring communities in Ukraine as we return to Lithuania and launch new projects in Zambia and Zimbabwe while keeping a strategic eye on Lebanon.
In November of 2009, World Wide Youth Camps officially became “YouthReach International”, to bring focus to our efforts to reach youth around the world. The Board of Directors further clarified our mission by adopting the following statement in early 2013:
Establishing local mentoring communities which equip orphans and at-risk children for success in life through spiritual development, positive role models, and practical skills.