You’re where you need to be.
After 14 years serving in the Young Life Mission, that conviction sits with resolve and peace in the heart and mind of Corey DeBritz, Area Director of Kittitas County. He believes that God has he and his wife, Jillian, right where He wants them – in Ellensburg, WA and serving the Kittitas County community. But, like all of us, the journey involves twists and turns, sacrifice and change.
Corey is a native Washingtonian. Born and raised on the Olympic peninsula, Corey grew up in a smaller town where his dad was a principal. He recalls that ‘everyone knows you’ when your dad is the principal. Like the old sitcom “Cheers”, where everybody knows your name, Corey grew up a good kid, in part because the principal’s kid can’t get away with anything in a small town!
Christ was not part of Corey’s life growing up. He recalls going to church a total of 2 times in his childhood years, both times being very awkward for him. On one of the occasions, the pastor invited all visitors to stand during the service so that the regular attenders could clap for them. Corey chuckled at how that made him feel back then and was quick to add that he still shudders a bit when he is reminded of that day.
As Corey entered the middle school years his older brother got involved in Young Life. His parents made their home available for club and Corey was vicariously introduced to the fun of the weekly meetings, listening to the goings on from his bedroom above.
When Corey was a freshman, his golf coach (Mike) and a math teacher (Jodi) played key roles in inviting Corey to get involved with YL himself. They were leaders at Belfair High and soon Corey was part of things. Corey was learning, as the mission seeks to model, that following Jesus is all about relationship.
And so it began, Corey – the good kid who felt like he didn’t fit in at church – committed his life to Jesus and, in so doing, began losing his life, only to find it.
Corey had a pivotal time at Malibu as a work crew team member just before his senior year. He’d been the year before as a camper and, admittedly, spent most of the week down on the ski-dock. But he went back again. God was stripping away the image of the “good kid” and inviting Corey to trust him with his frustrations, desire to have things under control and to become someone who invites others to experience God’s love through the person of Christ.
While studying to be a teacher at CWU, he got involved in middle school young life @ Morgan. Something about the middle school kids just drew him in. His heart for kids was getting clearer and more focused. After some counsel with Bill Duppenthaler, Corey switched his major from teaching to business and focused his occupational goals on going on Young Life Staff after graduation.
He had joined Judy Klaustermeyer’s student staff discipleship group and it was there that he met Jillian. Corey smiles as he recalls that Jillian knew that he had fallen in love with her. They were good friends first, ultimately dated for a year then Corey got around to, what has proven to be, one of his finest decisions ever when he asked Jillian to be his wife. 6 months later she made his dreams come true!
2 great kids later, a major ministry and life move from Walla Walla and Corey will tell you that Jillian is his best friend, top priority and biggest fan. As much as he loves the Young Life Mission, he is quick to say that he wants to be a great husband and great father first, before he is great at anything else.
You’ve got to love a guy who understands his calling that clearly!
The Kittitas County Young Life mission has a lot positive energy. The financials are healthy and the ‘brand’ is a good one in the valley. Leadership is strong in areas and yet needs work in others. But Corey is a developer and works to be building depth and width on the leadership team. Most notably, Corey is excited about the diversity of kids that are coming to club and camps. Great things are happening at EHS and Morgan, KHS, Young Lives and Capernaum. He finds himself dreaming about developing leaders and a club soon in the upper county.
Corey is deeply appreciative of his relationship with Bryan Halferty at Mercer Creek’s SALT ministry, as well as the Resonate Church CWU movement here in town, as these ministries are serving the college aged community with passion and excellence, reaching young adults with the gospel message that has so transformed his life, at the very college he attended and where his faith grew wings.
I met Corey 5 years ago when he moved to Ellensburg (2010). He was the 3rd area director since 2005. We’ve gotten to know each other over these past 5 years. I sense that his heart is home, that he’s right where he needs to be and sense God doing great things in and through him. It’s an honor to be his friend.
Way to go Corey and Jillian! Way to go Jesus!