PictureTori with one of her YOKE Kids.

2016 has been a year of transformation – from new leadership and staff, to new personnel at our schools and dozens of new volunteers engaged in our ministry. Most importantly, the lives of the students that we serve continue to be transformed and no one illustrates that better than Tori, one of our new YOKE Folk at Northwest Middle School.

If you’d known Tori six years ago when we first met her, you might have had trouble picturing her as a potential YOKE Folk. Her childhood was a nightmare. Her memories of her dad, when he was around, involve abuse, alcohol and drugs, and her mom wasn’t much better. Perpetually unemployed, she also struggled with addiction, cycling from relationship to relationship and in and out of Tori’s life. When she was home, Tori recalls scenes of drunkenness and rage, never having food in the house, and being told that she was hated.

At 14, after years of bouncing between relatives’ homes, Tori convinced an aunt to take her and her brother in for good. Her mom relinquished her rights as a parent, and for the first time Tori could remember, they experienced some peace and stability. In her new home, Tori entered the eighth grade at Northwest. “I felt abandoned, unloved, and betrayed,” she recalls. “I was looking for love, but didn’t understand where to find it.”

But Tori did make friends, and together they discovered YOKE where they met Laura, one of the YOKE Folk. “We went hiking and shopping, had sleepovers, and she quickly became one of my best friends,” says Tori. “She showed me what is was like to have a positive female influence in my life.”
Tori credits YOKE with saving her life. “It saved me from the damage I was doing to myself – the sin I was living in, that would have eventually killed me. Through YOKE I learned that I am saved, forgiven, adored, beautiful – I am loved.”

As a freshman at UT, Tori decided to get involved in the ministry that changed her life. “I want to help other girls find their identity in Christ and introduce them to the unconditional love that I found. I want to show these kids love, because that’s what YOKE showed me – and I have never been the same.”

Unfortunately, Tori’s story is not as uncommon as you’d think. That’s why the ministry of YOKE is so important. We meet students, right where they are, when they need us the most. Would you please consider investing in this transformational ministry with your year-end financial contribution?

Your tax-deductible donation to YOKE is an investment in students – an investment that leads to change. Checks may be mailed to YOKE at P.O. Box 3492, Knoxville, TN, 37927. As long as the envelope is postmarked by December 31, your gift will be credited toward your 2016 charitable giving. Naturally, gifts can be made securely online anytime by visiting our donation page. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us by email. Thank you for investing in YOKE.