We Need Others (Passion Projects,Flat Tires,and Great Friends)

I love when God teaches us lessons and reminds us of His truths in unexpected ways.
YoungLives was exploring a new fundraising concept called Passion Projects (a planned event in which one does something they enjoy while giving back to YoungLives and impacting generations). When I heard about it I volunteered to be a guinea pig. I was already signed up to race in a triathlon with some good friends from college. We were rallying together as we had all found ourselves in need of a different type of mountain to conquer besides dirty diapers and making it through bedtime routines. So as the idea of merging a passion with a fundraiser was mentioned it seemed a perfect fit and off I went launching the campaign and involving my friends!
Doing the triathlon for a greater cause than just my personal needs really changed the game for me. I believe this small step outside myself helped me to unplug my ears and hear from God.35a58796f0094c540042100aba5781c6 (3) I found myself on my long runs, bike rides, and swims being reminded of the ministry and the brave men and women it serves. My workouts became a time for prayer for them and that entry into a posture of prayer also allowed me to be more attuned to God and set the stage for me to hear from Him. It was neat to see donations come from my neighborhood friends to my Grandparents in Chicago as I reached out to my network and shared my excitement of racing for a cause!


Race day finally arrived and all my hard work was finally going to pay off in a great race and bragging rights with my friends as I was determined to be the victor!  Unfortunately race day did not go quite as planned…  9b43c4e409581c9782681124757f9f5d (2)It started off great as I crushed the swim and had a great transition into the bike until the guy behind me passed by and politely informed me as I was getting on my bike that my helmet was on backwards, oops.  Okay, so I fix the helmet and start pedaling up a monster hill and realize something is wrong, I look down and my back tire is flat!  I was so upset but stayed focused, jumped off, and used my CO2 cartridge to refill the tire and quickly resume.  Shortly after I realized it did not fully inflate and was only about half way full. I was determined to not have to stop again so I tried to fight through it but about 10 miles in I had to get more air so I tried another quick fix but quickly realized it didn’t work and that I was going to have to change the tube out.  I was then reminded that I did not have any more CO2 to fill the tube up and had no way to put a new tube on.  I was so disappointed and was ready to just cash it in.  All this hard work and I can’t even finish the race, I thought to myself…but then it hit me that my friend who I knew was a few minutes behind me had a pump on his bike and would be able to give it to me if I could flag him down.  So I proceed to change out my tube and wait for him to go flying past me, I almost missed him but caught his attention and he stopped, turned around and gave me his pump before getting back on the road.  I was able to change the tire and finish strong, not quite the time or performance I wanted but I finished and was proud of my accomplishment.7b9cc3edbc52cd398a74483e2643f099 (2)

Later that evening as I was driving home by myself I was reflecting on the adversity I faced.  Once I got over my own disappointment, I thought about the ministry this race was for and I thought of the incomparable adversity the teen moms and dads have faced in life.  I was reminded of their courage to press on, to do the right thing, to be the best they can be.  I also thought of the ministry and its volunteers and that because of YoungLives the moms/dads don’t have to do it on their own.  The reality is we can’t finish the race of life well unless we reach out and receive help from others.  WE NEED OTHERS, we were made to be in community, to love one another, to share in each other’s joy and sorrow.  It was hard for me to humble myself and reach out to someone else for help, to feel like I was a burden for him as I was going to make him stop his race to help me, but then to see the complete willingness and even joy for him to be able to come alongside me, it is the same joy we all feel when we know we have truly helped someone in this life.  I just started crying as I thought of the beauty of this truth and the beauty of this ministry.  I am so proud of the moms and dads that are facing their adversity and rising above the voices telling them to quit and grabbing the hand of someone else to help them run and finish this race of life well.  I am so moved by the volunteers that have stepped forward to lend a hand and mentor the young men and women who are up against the adversity.

I love when God teaches us lessons and reminds us of His truths in unexpected ways.


-Ryan McCarty



A hand to hold

Many of you ask, “What is contact work”?  Well, Contact work for me is simply hanging out with teen moms outside church or school walls, meeting them where they are at. I don’t know if I would even count it as “work” It’s my pleasure and honor to get to hang out with these girls. They are strong, brave, independent, beautiful young moms and I love getting to hangout with them. Whether its just a texting conversation, or playing taxi driving them around or taking them and their babies to the park or beach. It is so fun for me, and it is one of my favorite parts of this ministry.

Recently, I was at Valley Vista High School helping with homework and it just happened to be the day Red Cross was at the school and people were giving blood. Some of the girls were signed up to do it but were terrified having never done it, so one looked at me and said “will you come and hold my hand”, I didn’t even hesitate to say “absolutely” (even though I hate needles) boy, did she have a grip on my hand! Just knowing that the girls feel comfort and peace with me there is amazing because I know that is Jesus shining through me to comfort them. We were there about two hours but I didn’t even care, I could have stood there holding hands all day because I knew that’s exactly where I was supposed to be. Jesus would be doing the exact same thing for me or you, because He is the ultimate comforter, and Prince of Peace.


Beach day with Valley Vista girls!

My hope and prayer is that these girls find Jesus (if they haven’t already), realize their worth and how much they are loved, graduate High school, get jobs and make a life of their own following God’s call on their lives. For me, getting to be even a small part of all that is worth a million bucks. As I look to the future and try to imagine where these girls will be, what they will be doing, and the lives they will impact brings tears to my eyes. I am so incredibly thankful and blessed by these young moms, they are incredible. I love every one of them and their babies, and I love getting to be apart of their lives, i’m pretty sure my heart has grown 60x bigger working wth YoungLives, haha!

I hope this helps you understand “contact work” a little bit more, I love sharing with you the stories of the way Jesus is working through “meeting them where they are” and getting to share my heart behind it all.


-Kylie Bradley

“Let the little children come to me.”

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”

Several years back I stepped into a journey not realizing the impact it would have on my life.  I have been friends with Myrna for years and have always loved to hear all of the DSC_0130.jpgwonderful stories that have come out of YoungLives and the impact it is having on her life.  She invited me to start volunteering in childcare seeing the heart I have for kids and how much I enjoy spending time with them. Throughout the years of volunteering in childcare I have been so blessed by the kids, their moms and dads.  I can see the love of God through each of the kids I have been able to take care of.

When the moms bring the babies to us each month I can see how excited the moms and dads are to be at club and excited for the night’s events.  It isn’t always easy at first for the kids to be away from their parents and to adjust to coming to club but I enjoy getting to love them and comfort them even during those hard times. It is so rewarding as a volunteer to see them grow up in club and really experience who God is and how much love He has for them.  YoungLives_Nov-84.jpg

It is a blessing for me to be able to watch these kids and give these hard-working moms and dads a much needed break to have fun, relax and to be loved on by our Lord and Savior. I love seeing how refreshed and happy the moms and dads look after club and I really love seeing how God is moving and blessing YoungLives in such big ways.

It is amazing to see how much club has grown in just the time I have volunteered there. It has become so full that it is now spreading to other cities. It has been awesome to witness the start of Santa Ana club and knowing other moms and dads are getting this experience. I thank God he brought me to YoungLives club, that He is allowing me to use my gift of serving, and that it is having an impact on teen moms, dads, and their kids.


-Emily Ray