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Indiana Township woman brings Christian ministry home

| Wednesday, Feb. 13, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
The Herald
Nikki Spina

Nichole “Nikki” Spina is leading a WyldLife.

She's not out getting in trouble. Instead, she is organizing events for WyldLife, a Christian ministry that reaches out to middle school students.

In the Fox Chapel area, WyldLife, which is a part of the Christian ministry Young Life, is functioning around events Spina plans and associations she builds.

Events are usually held Friday nights.

Some have been at Boyd Community Center, but recently they've moved to Indiana Township's Town Hall along Saxonburg Boulevard.

There are games of dodgeball spiced with changes such as a roving “doctor” who can bring back teammates who had been thrown out.

Each event ends in quiet time and then a discussion.

Spina often shows a funny video to quiet the atmosphere before the club members talk.

“There's always a message,” she said. “It's amazing how they know when it's time to stop the crazy, high-energy environment.”

In the end, the message is the major event because WyldLife is a conduit to bring Christian beliefs into the lives of youngsters.

The group is nondenominational, accepting anyone of any background, but it does carry a religious punch.

The idea is to put that punch into the everyday lives of young teens.

“This is a relationship-based ministry,” Spina said. “We meet the kids where they are.”

The Fox Chapel High School graduate realizes her actions and those of her volunteer helpers must reflect what she is teaching.

“Building relationships is about earning the right to be heard,” she said. “We want to be there for them no matter what you believe in or what you are going through.”

Spina automatically dives into activities.

Starting her job with Young Life in August, one of her first actions was to volunteer with her middle school coach to help his Dorseyville team.

Sports isn't just about the job, though.

“I fell in love with coaching. I'll do it the rest of my life,” she said. “(Sports) teach how to work through things, how to problem solve. Most of the stuff I remember learning is through sport, work hard and enjoying the time off.”

A Seminole experience wasn't sports-related though.

Spina made a two-year commitment to work summers at Sky Ranch Ute Trail.

“I was completely out of my comfort zone,” Spina recalls.

The initial challenge was carrying as much as 75 pounds in her backpack while scrambling up wild, mountainous terrain.

Screaming muscles were new voices to Spina.

However, there in the wilderness, she learned how to listen to her thoughts.

She wanted to continue her work as a teen leader on camping trips; however, the call to return home came.

Now, getting WyldLife started has cemented her commitment.

Her dark brown eyes shine even when she discusses a never-ending schedule, which spills over into evenings and weekends.

She enjoys concentrating on the young adults.

Spina is setting up a small office in Aspinwall, a place to do her book work.

She is planning a camping trip in late June to Michindoh for the children.

Already she knows what activities are going to create interest during that trip.

In the meantime, Spina, who attended Grove City College, plans to spend a little bit of time with her family.

While her schedule is hectic, she makes sure to create time for her family — especially her mother.

That time, she said, helps her find balance.

Sharon Drake is a freelance writer with Trib Total Media.

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