Greg and Robin Gudal has experienced Albert Lea’s kids for 29 years.

As the Olympics were on, at the time of this writing, I was so excited to also be in TX visiting family. They have a pool, so of course I went out to be my own Olympian. I swam three of the amazing swimming techniques, backstroke, butterfly and the ‘other one’. You see my reality from TV, and then the actual implementation were literally worlds apart. Why, you ask do I start an article about South Central Minnesota Youth For Christ aka The Rock, here in Albert Lea about this…simple.

Experience Albert Lea

If only if we had known 29 years before what ministry would mean, what it would look like, all the joys (and there are many), all the sorrows (which there are equally as many), all the ups and downs, the sacrifice, the exhaustion, the “what in the world are we doing” times…I am not sure if I would have been up for the challenge. However, I had in my pocket a dream, from the young girl in me, to be a missionary. I thought in Africa. Ironically for the past 5+ years I have prayer mentored the National Director of YFC Kenya, Anna. As a young married couple God planted, watered and then allowed to come to fruition a hard-driven, strong, passionate, undeniable KNOWING that He not only desired us, but wanted us to surrender 110% to Him and that He would 110% of the time be there, be the rock for us to lean on and into. So birthed our passion for ministry and our journey with YFC.

So, you see, as in the Olympics, we only see the culmination of the ‘behind the scenes’, and it is much more than a two to ten minute event. Life is a journey. So, with the honor of sharing about Youth For Christ, I dedicate this article to my husband, Greg, who is not only a humble and gentle (and firm when needed) leader, but an equally solid husband, dad and friend to many. 

Experience Albert Lea

YFC started with a dream of a young couple who visited California in the early 60’s and went to a YFC rally there. They thought, ‘why not Albert Lea?’ Thus South Central Minnesota Youth For Christ was birthed. There are many, and I mean many, who dedicated, sacrificed and worked tirelessly for the mission of reaching youth with the Gospel. Today, if you put into three buckets what YFC is, it would be: Reach Kids, Change Lives and Develop Leaders. Thank you to ALL those who came prior to our leadership.

Experience Albert Lea

What and who is YFC? 

~We are a non-profit (meaning all funds are raised. Mainly by individuals, church missionary budgets and a small handful of grants we apply for), para-church (we are not a church, rather we encourage youth to get involved in a local church as we collaborate and partner with the local church. Our board consists of no more than two from any one church). 

~Many, actually thousands of youth have come through the doors of YFC in the past 54 years. Hundreds of volunteers have dedicated their valuable time and energy to pour into these youth. 

~Our donors are essential. Without them little would be accomplished. Seldom do we run to the grocery store, go out to eat or run errands without interacting with a current or past youth, parent, or family member. What a joy it is for us and our staff. 

~Speaking of staff, we have the BEST! They are so dedicated (most also have a support system of individuals without whom they could not do their job. Special kudos and appreciation to the family members out there. Your sacrifice is noted. We love you) and go beyond the call of duty. Please know ministry is NOT a 9-5 job, it is a life decision that engulfs all areas of ones life. 

~Have we always done this thing right? Absolutely not! We have made many blunders, mistakes and people unfortunately have been hurt or offended in the journey. Have we learned a lot along the way? Absolutely. We are grateful for all those who have extended grace and love to us as a ministry. We serve Jesus, however, we fall short daily. 

~SCMYFC has grown ( it now includes drop-in centers in Lake Mills, Iowa, Blue Earth, MN, St. James, MN, Mountain Lake, MN. Prairie River Camp (, The Wilderness Prayer Center, ministry in Austin, MN, a horse ministry (Ride By Faith) and The Rock. This past year in Albert Lea alone over 1200 different youth have been involved in some way with the ministry. 

~YFC is about Jesus! We do everything we do with the hope and prayer that we have the opportunity to share Jesus with whomever He puts in our path. The Rock has been a successful drop-in center for 25+ years (which is amazing). I believe only because the center is a means or method in which to cultivate relationships, versus the center being the ministry. A lot of  ministry does also happen outside the walls of The Rock.

Experience Albert Lea

Through the years, we have had many opportunities to be a part of our youths lives. We have had wonderful and great joys; personal accomplishments, graduations, personal dreams reached, weddings, babies, second generation youth and just the pure joy one experiences as they surrender their lives to Jesus and the change He makes in their lives. Low lows and sadness as well are always a part of life; we have watched youth fail, stumble, given last rights at bed sides, prayed with those ready to meet Jesus face to face, shared at funerals; we have felt many sorrows. Because we care, we live life in whatever form it comes.

Many of our past youth have now become donors and the reason is simple: they know just how important YFC was for them and they want others to also have that experience. Others have joined our paid  staff, and some volunteer…that’s a strong community. 

Experience Albert Lea

Recently while sharing at a church, one of the individuals emotionally shared with me, “I just don’t know what YFC will do when you and Greg retire.” I only share this humbly to tell all of you, one of my mantras is “good leaders, lead”, and I have no concern that when that time comes this community will be in great hands. We have fabulous staff. 

The YFC mission states: Youth for Christ reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ and commitment to social involvement. We function out of that, when we as individuals get out of the way, Jesus is always glorified and honored. 

If you, your church, community service club or any other club would like YFC to come share please contact us, we would love the opportunity. The Rock | 116 West Clark Street | #507-402-2313 (Robin’s cell).

Thank you Albert Lea for being such a supportive, caring community that welcomes YFC to do their mission; love on kids! 

Robin Gudal 

SCMYFC Director Of Operations

About Robin Russell

Robin is a fifth generation Albert Lean blogging at Russell's Adventures. Robin and her husband homeschool their four children. They enjoy fine food and beverages and the great outdoors. They are often found exploring Minnesota State Parks, attempting crazy science experiments, and enjoying the local Albert Lea small town life.

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