Allen Hampton and his family moved to Oxford a little over nine years ago to take over Young Life with no idea what was in store for their future. Now, they are reflecting on their journey as they prepare to move to Colorado and start over again with Young Life.
Hampton is originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. As a child, his family moved a lot. High school was a difficult season of life for Hampton. His high school in Lake Charles didn’t have a Young Life program, so he wouldn’t become involved in the pivotal group that has impacted his life so much until he went to college. For many years, he wanted to be an engineer, until he became involved in Young Life.
“I went to LSU and majored in civil engineering,” said Hampton. “I switched to secondary math education once I decided on going full-time with Young Life. I went through leader training to become a volunteer leader and eventually went on student staff.”
Hampton met his wife, Raina, at LSU. His sister introduced them after meeting Raina through Greek life connections at the university. This Dec. 29, the Hamptons will celebrate their 15th wedding anniversary. They now have four kids. Stephen is 12, Ella Grace is 10, Benjamin is 7, and Grayson is 4.
In 2007, Hampton’s regional director asked him and his family to move to Oxford to start Young Life here. Young Life is a non-denominational Christian organization that is found all across the United States.
Jim Rayburn started it in Gainesville, Texas in 1939. Since then, it has spread to all over the country and throughout other countries in the world. It started at high schools before growing to more specific needs.
Young Life has Capernaum, which is the ministry specifically designed for kids with special needs. It also has YoungLives for teenage mothers, who are matched with older moms committed to friendship and helping them. There is WyldLife for middle schoolers, Young Life College at campuses all over, Amicus for student exchange and many more sects.
“Young Life is important because it is a ministry that goes out to adolescents where they are and loves them and builds relationships with them so we can introduce them to Jesus,” Hampton said. “I don’t think a lot of people do that. Everything hinges on knowing Jesus.”
Allen has been area director for about 10 years. It was already starting to begin here, but when Hampton came, he was the first official full-time staff member. It was very small at first, and was only offered at Oxford High School and Middle School. Hampton has helped it greatly expand.
“We moved to having two team leaders per team,” he said. “We started giving leaders a grade to pursue, and we started Young Life at Lafayette High School and Ole Miss. We have done a lot of fundraisers and created a culture of camping. I hope in the future here Young Life will grow deeper and wider.”
Area Administrator Kelly Mulderig said Hampton’s job involves several components – spiritual development, leadership development, resource development (fundraising), direct ministry and ministry support. The point of Young Life is to introduce adolescents to Christ and help them grow in their faith.”
This December, Allen and Raina Hampton will move their family to Boulder, Colorado to lead Young Life there. They are saying goodbye to a town they have lived in and loved for 10 years to start their new adventure across the country.
“I want to continue loving people who don’t know Jesus and introducing them to God,” Hampton said about the move. “If I could tell young people anything it would be this: Get to know Jesus. He is the most exciting person in the universe, and if that hasn’t been your experience, then you’ve met the wrong person.”
The Hamptons have created a community in Oxford that ranges from families and college students to high schoolers and middle schoolers. They open their home to these kids and invite them in whenever they can. They have trained leaders and followed them for years. The Hamptons love people as they are. Many are sad to see them go.
“Allen Hampton loves anyone and everyone so well,” said Mackenzie Gaines, college leader at Lafayette High School, and a friend of the Hamptons. “He is kind and approachable and cares deeply for people. He truly knows what it is to abide in Jesus, and it is evident in the way he lives his life.”