Delivering the Gospel

Young Chang

Being a Christian doesn't have to mean planting yourself in a church

pew and singing age-old hymns.

These four college students -- they're hip and have the look of a boy

band -- are as funny as stand-ups and passionate like pastors.

Jeff Hanson, 20, wants to one day minister to youth. Shawn York, 23,

is a music major and hopes to direct high school choirs. Brandon Tyra,

20, wants a career in cinematography. Tim Larson, 19, is headed for

acting.

But for now, as Vanguard University's Delivery Boys for 2001-2002,

they share one most pressing job: to deliver the gospel up and down the

West Coast, promote the university and entertain teens as Christian role

models.

"In this age of decision-making, it's possible to be a Christian

because being Christian doesn't mean being a nerd," York said. "You can

be funny and cool and live your life for God."

A public-relations team that visits youth camps, the Delivery Boys are

an 11-year tradition at Vanguard and are selected every year, as are

their female counterparts, called Entourage. Hanson is this year's only

returning member to the Delivery Boys, as most team members start brand

new.

The four Christian guys were chosen in February from a pool of 25

students and are currently training for 12 summer weeks of traveling and

ministering at youth camps along the West Coast. So far, the program

includes skits -- most of them with a Christian message and some randomly

humorous ones to loosen up the crowd -- comical props, including wigs,

and the skill of counseling.

During the school year, the Boys will visit nearby churches and

schools to deliver their usual goods. Their target audience is students

in junior high and high schools, said Rina Campbell, director of Youth

Ministry Relations for Vanguard.

"This is the age where the majority of people make decisions in their

lives," Hanson said. "It's the most influential age."

He knows this firsthand. As a 7th-grader in Tucson, Ariz., he saw a

team of Delivery Boys perform at a youth camp he was attending.

"I wanted to be one," he remembers, which helped him end up where he

is today.

The team is noticeably excited about its summer ahead. It'll be the

"ultimate road trip," as Hanson puts it -- fast food, days and nights

crammed together whether they like it or not and, of course, the mission

of teaching others about Christianity.

"It's a life-changing experience," York said, "Of touching kids' lives

and delivering the gospel through humor."

This is an important tool, Tyra agreed. One that eases kids into the

subject of religion and their emotions.

"It's key to find a way to relate to kids somehow," Tyra said.

The group admits they're still trying to get to know each other. But

with plenty of miles and time on their road ahead, members are assured

they'll deliver what's promised with grace.

"I'm nervous, but excited," Larson said.

"We're four laid-back personalities," York added. "I think we've got a

pretty good blend."

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