PictureSarah Gregory as a middle school student spending time with one of her YOKE Folk.

All kids are special and important to us at YOKE, but occasionally one comes along that just really stands out. Maybe it’s their personality or their story, or maybe it’s because of a special bond formed during a trying time. Maybe, like with a student named Sarah Gregory, it’s all of the above.  

It wasn’t too long ago that Sarah came bouncing into one of YOKE’s after school clubs. She had dark, curly hair, an infectious smile, and was very talkative and outgoing. She was new to her middle school, in fact she was new to the United States. Her family had been serving as Young Life missionaries in the Czech Republic and had just returned for a year of furlough. As a new student in one of Knoxville’s urban schools, the culture shock was extreme. As a “third culture kid,” Sarah really didn’t know where she fit. (The term “third culture kid” refers to kids who grow up in a different culture, since they neither fit entirely in their adopted culture, nor their home culture.) She felt alone in a new school and in a new country, and there were things culturally she didn’t understand.

YOKE became a life-line for Sarah. “I was the new kid on the block, so things were tough,” explains Sarah. “As I started going to YOKE, I got to build some really great relationships with the YOKE Folk there. They were loving, fun and outgoing, and they genuinely cared. Who doesn’t want that in middle school?”

Though she and her family returned to the Czech Republic the following year, Sarah’s YOKE Folk had made a lasting impression on her. When she graduated from high school, she came back to the States to attend Maryville College and she now serves as a YOKE leader in Blount County.  

​”I decided to try to make the same postive impact on someone else that my YOKE Folk had on me,” says Sarah. “It’s a good feeling to help others feel loved, especially when it’s a reaction to the grace of Jesus. YOKE had that impact on me and I’m honored to do the same.” 

With a new semester beginning, there are new opportunties for leaders across all five counties that YOKE serves. We need YOKE leaders, like Sarah, to make middle school students feel loved and impact their lives in a positive way. If you or someone you know would be interested in serving with YOKE you can email or visit our volunteer page.  


Sarah Gregory (far right) spends time at camp with her YOKE Kids.