Two Generations

It’s always an exciting time heading into the first Club night of the new school year…meeting new teen moms and dads, renewing friendships with returning ones and of course, the babies! We had a three week old and a four week old at Huntington Beach Club this past week. And over the course of summer break, the bDSC_0046.jpgabies that have turned into walking toddlers, and the walking toddlers that have turned into talking toddlers – lol! All of this reminds me that we have more than just a fun night happening here…we are impacting TWO generations through this ministry. We are showing them Jesus in all aspects of Club. We have the most amazing crew of volunteers that show up with a home cooked meal, cotton balls and pudding for a game, a bag of craft supplies, fresh flowers for the tables, open arms to care for the babies. Volunteers that take off work early to be able to drive teens and babies to club. Volunteers with smiles, hugs, high fives. All of them showing up to share Jesus through their own gifts and sacrifices. All of them showing up and impacting two generations. I wonder how many of them really know the imprint they’re having on these YoungLives. ~ Colleen (North OC YoungLives Office Admin)

 

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Behind the Lens

If you get the chance to meet Jim and Kim Sorenson from Windward Productions in person, it won’t take you more than a minute to feel right ‘at home’ with them. Truly such kind and likable humans with hearts of gold. They love the Lord immensely and have served faithfully on the North OC YoungLives Committee for the last five years. More recently, after “retiring” from their careers, they dove head first into starting a production company. They are literally non-stop on the go throughout the world filming for non-profits, corporations, weddings, and more. Somehow, with all they have going on, they take time to capture and produce beautiful and heartfelt footage of our local teen moms and babies.

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From Jim’s own perspective, what it’s like to film these beautiful young ladies:

“So we set up the camera, the lighting, the microphone and all the stuff that is needed to record an interview.  I look over the camera and I see the “deer in the headlights” look on the teen mom’s face…and I think…how do I get them to talk to us…perfect strangers that they only just met?

Their stories are often heartbreaking and difficult to hear…but they are part of God’s plan and and it is the love they have felt that compels them to be sitting here in front of us.  So we chat with the young women…play with their children and try to convey to them that they just need to be themselves and tell us their story as if they were having a conversation with a friend.

JimSorenson_2In the end, they sometimes forget that they are being recorded and the emotion comes through…they get teary eyed…then we get choked up and try to hold back the tears. When we create the final video we know that it is all worthwhile. That their story will help some other teen mom and that maybe…just maybe they too will feel the love of God.”

 

Can Anything Good Come From…???

Do you know what Nathaniel is famous for in the Bible? I for one can admit that I honestly didn’t know much about Nathaniel until Myrna Bittar, the tireless leader of the North Orange County YoungLives Program, began her message the other night and shared a little of his story.  I guess his claim to fame was adamantly saying, “Can anything good come from Nazareth?”

This statement is directly correlated to some of the stigmas skeptics might have about this particular program. If we are completely honest, I am sure that at one point in our lives we have all heard something negative said about the community of Santa Ana and perhaps we have even heard stereotypes about teenage parents. Perhaps the question might have even been asked, “Can anything good come from trying to help teenage parents in Santa Ana?

Well, I adamantly invite these possible skeptics to come to one of our YoungLives club nights. For just as Nathaniel changed his mind the minute he set eyes on Jesus and became one of his disciples, I know that anyone with any doubts about the good this organization does, will change their mind the minute they look into the eyes of one of these innocent babies.

Walking into club on September 5th was like walking into a family reunion. There were hugs all around and laughter everywhere. Delicious food was shared and stories of summer were told. New friendships were made and old connections were reconnected.  Babies were passed around and comments about toddler’s growth were heard. Games were played and gift cards were won. But the best part of the evening happened about an hour and a half into the evening when babies were safely with the wonderful childcare volunteers and the word of God was being shared.

Myrna invited the Holy Spirit into the room and His presence was felt. She introduced Nathaniel and explained the transformation he went through, from questioning and doubting and having pre-judgments to becoming a Christ follower. She then encouraged the young people who were there and gave them the props they deserved for giving up a Tuesday night. She let them know that each and every one of them is loved by Jesus Christ and so are their babies. She let them know that just like Nathaniel, if they meet Jesus then they will know the truth. She invited them to make connections with the mentors who were there and wanted to help them do just that.

Things lightened up dIMG_6495uring craft time (and “guy time” for the guys) as the young moms and dads got to talk with mentors and make new friends. But Jesus was never far from the conversations. Real questions were asked, truths were shared, and reminders of God’s love were given. Phone numbers were exchanged and hopefully by the next club some amazing mentor and mentee connections will be apparent.

I myself have been volunteering my time with this organization for only about 8 months or so and I can honestly say that it has been one of the most rewarding things I have ever done. Watching these young adults mature as they grow into being parents, has been truly heartwarming.  They are strong and proud and they demand respect for their choice to honor life. They are proof that with the love of Jesus Christ, there is so much good that can come from being a teenage parent. They are proof that great things can come from Santa Ana… great families that have God as the center.  

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I can’t wait to see what the new year holds and what God has in store for this amazing group of volunteers, mentors, and young families. ~ Theresa Stack, Mentor & Volunteer

Love Bomb

We have someone we want you to meet! Ashley Novotny quietly works behind the scenes of YoungLives gathering donations of baby clothing, accessories, toys, diapers, etc… making our monthly club tables full of items for the young parents to gather (for no cost of course!) for their little ones. In her own words…

“I basically act as the liaison between Rock Harbor Costa Mesa’s mom group, Nurture and YoungLives. I just make a group FB (Facebook) post on the Nurture page regarding the needs Myrna mentions and then either meet the ladies at their house or have them bring their donations to church/Nurture the following week. If it’s urgent, I will usually just go pick it up from their house the same day. Nothing very exciting, really. Haha!  My Life Group has pitched in on numerous occasions and are always glad to be the hands of Jesus and serve these parents.  I sometimes reach out to various mom-to-mom groups that I’m involved in through FB and will just set up a public meeting spot (Target/Trader Joes) and let people come to me and drop stuff off.”

Ashley also has the gift of “love bombing”.  Ashley explains it this way, “when there is a specific need, if I can, I’ll help fulfill it. It’s usually a quick stop. Sometimes the girls will let me stay and pray with them, but usually it’s a a quick exchange as I typically have my children with me.  Many of the girls are overwhelmed by the donations because my goal when donating is to “love bomb” the heck out of them. If they need diapers, then why not also include diaper cream, wipes, powder and Arm & Hammer trash bags for the stinky diapers?

Why I choose to drive all over creation for these girls is because I don’t want to just give them a band-aid. Yes, diapers are a need, and clothes are a need, but their greatest need is Jesus and to know in the depths of their souls that they are known by the One who created them.

Providing needs like diapers or a crib is just an easy segue to share the gospel and show them that they are immeasurably loved by their Heavenly Daddy. My prayer when I meet these moms is to be left knowing that they are cared for and that they are doing a great job and that God loves them. Knowing that some of these young parents aren’t told how special they are helps to spur me on while I’m stuck on the 405 or 55 freeways; that my job of picking up and delivering donations is important. It’s literally being the hands and feet of Jesus and I feel so beyond grateful that I have the means to do so. I couldn’t pick up and drop off these items if it weren’t for the numerous people all over Orange County who love Jesus and love these mommies and babies. They are the ones that should be applauded because it’s their giving hearts and giving hands that make what I do even possible.”

Aren’t you glad you got to meet Ashley? We are so grateful for all those that help the YoungLives mission…including those special ones that are behind the scenes.