Hampton leading, growing Young Life ministry in area
By Molly Randles
Through worship, Bible studies, mission trips, camps and prayer, Allen Hampton, Young Life area director, leads an on and off campus organization providing Lafayette County, Oxford and Ole Miss students with an outlet for Christian ministry.
Hampton, 36, a Louisiana State University alum, has headed Young Life Ministries in Oxford since its establishment in September 2007.
Under Hampton’s leadership, Young Life has been a steadily growing nonprofit organization in North Mississippi for eight years. Within the last two years, Hampton has created a college branch for Ole Miss students.
“Young Life at Ole Miss has a mission to allow every student to know who God is,” Hampton said.
Hampton leads in a variety of ways, from taking groups backpacking across the Rockies in Colorado, taking college students to Nicaragua on spring break for mission work, sacrificing his summers to working at a Young Life camp in Georgia, and teaching Jesus to students every weeknight all over Oxford.
The organization is a Christian ministry that reaches out to middle school, high school and college-aged students. Oxford, Lafayette County is just one Young Life affiliate of 327 branches of Young Life in the United States and of other affiliates in more than 90 countries around the world. Young Life ministries help an estimated 2 million people worldwide annually.
Young Life is funded through the donations of individuals, foundations and businesses. The main purpose for Allen and his team of local leaders is to reach out to students in many ways.
“There is a huge number of adolescents at Ole Miss that we want to reach out to through our organization,” Hampton said. “My favorite thing about my job is that I have a sense of doing something incredibly significant.”
For Hampton, it’s all about “doing something bigger than myself. I get to tell people about Jesus and what it looks like to have a relationship with God.”
One of Hampton’s first Young Life members when he moved to Oxford was Collier Phillips. Phillips, 21, is now a local volunteer and leader for Oxford High School Young Life and a member of the Ole Miss Young Life Ministry.
Phillips has been with the program since it began in Oxford eight years ago. He was in seventh grade when he first attended a Young Life event and met Hampton and his family. Collier said he loved everything about the Hamptons and the Young Life program.
“Young Life is where I came to find the Lord,” Phillips said.
His spiritual aspirations have given him an opportunity to pay what he called an “eternal connection with God” forward to other adolescents who are now members of Oxford Young Life.
“I couldn’t think of doing anything better in college other than being a leader,” Phillips said. “I feel like Young Life is a safe place of stability for both those spiritually interested, as well as those (who) are not. Allen is so involved with us on our level.”
Marissa Rodriguez, 22, an Ole Miss senior and Ole Miss Young Life leader Hampton said, Phillips brings much leadership to Ole Miss and Oxford.
“I remember going to La Finca, Nicaragua, with Allen over spring break for a mission trip,” she said. “Allen really does show us how to lead and act like Jesus every day.”
Rodriguez said her favorite thing about Allen was his funny personality and ability to teach a room full of kids.
Madeleine Young, 19, an undergraduate student at Ole Miss, said Young Life changed her life. She found it difficult to find a place where she felt she belonged at the beginning of her freshman year when sorority recruitment did not meet her expectations for a freshman experience. Through Young Life, she found a community of acceptance, and likes that she feels loved for who she is.
“The friendships I have made through Young Life have changed me as a person and showed me a new out look on life,” Young said. “I value the experiences I have had with these people, and I wouldn’t trade the moments or experiences for any sorority or event. I am glad I had Allen, his family, and Young Life to run to when everything else crumbled.”
Young is one of more than 250 college students at Ole Miss who are involved in Young Life; a number Hampton is eager to see grow in the next few years.
Looking forward in five years, Hampton is hoping to expand Young Life College and hire a college staff. He is also hoping to see Young Life in Lafayette Middle School and Water Valley schools.
Hampton and his Young Life team are currently working on getting Young Life started in Tupelo and New Albany schools.