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Admiral to speak at Youth for Christ event

Bruce Clingan, a retired admiral with the U.S. Navy, will speak at the annual James Valley Youth for Christ fundraising banquet at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 22, at the Jamestown Civic Center.

After retirement in 2014, Clingan, of Stanwood, Wash., wanted to help young people develop a relationship with Christ, said Troy Gunderson, executive director of James Valley Youth for Christ. He became the vice chair of Youth for Christ Foundation and a senior adviser for Youth For Christ USA, bringing his unique administrative and strategic planning skills, he said.

"He is instrumental at that national level," Gunderson said.

Clingan said in a telephone interview Tuesday that it's important to find ways to help "America's lost 11- to 19-year-olds" and the Christian adults of Youth For Christ do a good job of helping youth navigate the challenges of life and acquaint them with Jesus Christ. Millions of American youth are either not acquainted with religion or are not active in their faith, he said.

Clingan said his banquet stories will include those from his career that convinced him that the relationship with Christ is real and not imaginary. The stories will be relevant to listeners who can apply the importance of Christ-centered relationships to their lives, he said.

First there is God's story in the biblical and historical sense, he said. Then the adult leaders who want to help God intervene with young people, and then move forward to reach lost young people, he said.

"We want to cause all three of those stories to intersect," Clingan said. "We believe that a life without God and Christ is difficult and not full of hope, and so we bring the ability to construct who he was and the promise of eternal Jesus."

Young people should enter adulthood having contemplated the spiritual realm and have been exposed at some point to a cross-section of spiritual perspectives, he said. There is an inherent desire or sense of a higher being and without that youth seek self-actualization and are vulnerable to persuasion from spiritual alternatives, he said.

"Those have elements of truth and other elements of twisted manifestation of truth or are made up entirely," Clingan said.

Youth need a foundation in faith as part of readiness for adulthood, he said. There is technical readiness, emotional readiness, physical readiness and spiritual readiness that are necessary to make life-changing decisions, he said.

"Young people need readiness for life regardless of occupation," he said.

At the time of Clingan's retirement after 37 years of service in 2014, he was a four star admiral, also known as full admiral, which is the highest possible rank in the U.S. Navy. He started his career as a naval aviator and by 2001 was the commander of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, and later commanded the U.S. Sixth Fleet and various other Navy and NATO commands.

Gunderson said the fundraiser would support programming at the Jamestown location and the new Teen City 2.0 site in Valley City.

Around 85 of 100 tables have been sponsored so far for the banquet, Gunderson said. A table of eight is $250. Free tickets are available at the sponsored tables by calling 252-5501 or emailing youth4x@hotmail.com.