- Associated Press - Saturday, January 18, 2014

NEW ALBANY, Ind. (AP) - Hymns, prayer requests and a sermon - the activities included during Redeem the Dream, Inc. sessions may sound like a traditional church service, but the intent is for the message to reach local youths on their own terms.

For almost two months, Redeem the Dream founder and President Dan Marsden has been holding weekly services on Tuesday evenings inside the Floyd County branch of the YMCA of Southern Indiana.

Without a van for pickup, Marsden packs kids into his two-door Ford Escort if they need a ride to the program. Some of them have very few places to turn for help and direction, but Marsden is convinced a relationship with Jesus Christ transcends any societal standing.

“We want to inspire youth and find a purpose in Christ and develop it in him,” Marsden said. “A majority of these kids have terrible home lives and they don’t have good examples.”

He moved to the area from California about two years ago and took a job as a youth pastor at a local church. But Marsden said he was called to another work, and thus he started the nonprofit Redeem the Dream.

The organization isn’t tied to a specific church but is founded on the pillars of biblical literacy, inspiration, opportunity and accountability.

“There’s always a biblical message with life application so the kids can take the message and apply it to their lives,” Marsden said.

Last week, four kids were baptized in the swimming pool inside the Y. Almost 40 people attended the ceremony.

“It’s been really encouraging to see how this is moving forward,” Marsden told the News and Tribune (http://bit.ly/1eHB1XG ).

The Y has allowed Redeem the Dream to use a multi-purpose room to hold services.

“The Y is the perfect partner as it has also been a catalyst for positive change in downtown New Albany,” said James Power, who is employed at the YMCA and also is the director of music and small groups for Redeem the Dream.

While on a mission trip in Belize last summer, Powers said it occurred to him that he didn’t have to travel abroad to spread encouragement and good will.

He believes there’s a mission field in New Albany that’s in need of attention.

“I believe in the American Dream, and I want today’s youth to believe in it as well,” Powers said. “Most successful people have a person or person, other than family, who have provided them with inspiration and/or support. That’s what we want to provide to these young people.”

On the first Tuesday meeting of each month, Redeem the Dream hosts a special guest from the community.

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