Searcy KLIFE welcomes two new directors

By Syd Hayman Published October 23, 2016 at 12:00 a.m.
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Michelle Cothern

Katelyn Tolle and Matt Berry, new directors at Searcy KLIFE, stand outside of the chapter’s headquarters in Searcy. KLIFE is a youth ministry that guides college students through leading small groups of children in grades five through 12.

— Matt Berry and Katelyn Tolle are new faces in the Searcy KLIFE chapter.

KLIFE is a nonprofit youth ministry that trains college students to disciple fifth- through 12th-graders.

“Our mission is impacting youth culture for Christ,” said Matt Berry, chapter director. “We do that by taking college students here at Harding and training them on how to be small-group leaders. They’re going to lead small groups with kids that are in their friend groups.”

Berry, a Clinton native, joined Searcy’s KLIFE chapter in August. He began volunteering with KLIFE while a student at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway, and when he applied for KLIFE, he envisioned being out of state.

“I went here for a visit , and the rest is history,” he said. “I’m definitely glad. At first, I wanted to go on a new adventure and get out of Arkansas because I’ve been here my whole life. After being here for a few months, this is definitely where God wants me. I can’t rebel against that.”

As chapter director, Berry oversees all of the small groups, event planning and the weekly services — called “klubs” — that take place each Tuesday at the KLIFE house in Searcy. Berry presents a biblical message during the service, and he meets with college leaders on a one-on-one basis. There are 20 college leaders involved with KLIFE, and about 32 people on average attend its weekly service, Berry said.

“No two days look the same with KLIFE stuff,” he said.

Berry lives at the KLIFE house, 700 S. Main St., which houses a game room and a large living room space for the weekly meetings and presentations. There is also a field where KLIFE children can play sports such as dodgeball, football, volleyball and basketball.

Katelyn Tolle, the women’s director for KLIFE’s Searcy chapter, is a Bevier, Missouri, native who became inspired to join KLIFE after witnessing a friend experience it. Tolle oversees the girls groups at KLIFE, meets with the women’s leaders from Harding and runs the social-media accounts for the organization.

“I was actually sent to three other chapters before I came to Searcy,” she said. “All of those chapters have the right people there because through that process, I learned a lot of what I like and what I want.”

Tolle said she hopes children who participate in KLIFE learn Scripture, feel loved and have good role models.

“It’s not up to me and my abilities [as to] how successful KLIFE is,” she said. “God really doesn’t need me here in Searcy, but he just chose to use me and the gifts he’s given me. This is a platform to glorify him and to praise him, not myself. I’m not the reason kids are coming to KLIFE. I don’t want to be the reason kids come to KLIFE. I just never want to snatch that glory from God.”

From 7-10 p.m. Oct. 29, the nonprofit will host the Great Pumpkin Chase, a scavenger hunt that sends youth around Searcy. Youth teams will be given clues and riddles and will travel across the city to take pictures of what they find. The Harding students who lead small groups will drive the youths to the hunt sites. After the hunt is complete, participants are invited to a bonfire at the KLIFE house. The cost to participate is $5.

“They’re going to submit the pictures onto [the social-media network] Instagram, and Katelyn and I will judge it, and we also will be sending them different clues apart from the sheet onto Instagram,” Berry said. “Our goal for that is to create more exposure on social media. It’s also going to be a blast for them.”

Tolle said a child does not have to be involved in every weekly aspect of KLIFE in order to attend the organization’s events.

“I think a common misconception that I’ve recently learned is kids feel like they can’t do KLIFE things if they don’t get to come to klub,” she said. “That’s not the case whatsoever. All these events are open to the entire community.”

Berry said he hopes children involved with KLIFE will share their experiences with their peers.

“My vision for it is just to see the kids in our ministry know who they are in Christ and be able to be a light in the school,” he said. “Our kids discipling other kids that are their age — that would be my goal. We go and disciple kids, and they in turn are discipling their peers.”

Staff writer Syd Hayman can be reached at (501) 244-4307 or shayman@arkansasonline.com.

Staff Writer Syd Hayman can be reached at 501-244-4342 or shayman@arkansasonline.com.

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