2017…gone just like that!

Highlights from 2017 bring back such sweet, sweet memories! From returning young families to new faces, we embraced these YoungLives to our fullest! We had monthly clubs in both Huntington Beach and Santa Ana, we were on various high school campuses teaching Parenting classes, we went to both winter and summer camps. We welcomed new births, we celebrated graduations, we threw a Prom, we helped with necessities, we shared prayers, hugs, love, and day to day life.

We had an army of volunteers that made sure these events could happen from the committee, mentors, childcare workers, and prayer warriors to those who drove, performed skits and music, played crazy games, cooked, baked, crafted, and more!

We were brought together in community by raising funds & resources through dinners at local restaurants, home parties, a golf tournament, pancake breakfast & craft fair, concerts, a banquet dinner, giving trees, among other Passion Projects.

YoungLives has a way of drawing in from all walks of life, from the young families being reached to those that are doing the reaching. But, really, it’s not YoungLives that is pulling everyone together…it is Jesus Christ. He commanded a few willing vessels and they heeded His call…this is North OC YoungLives!

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A Love Story Unfolded

Last Friday’s Christmas Club & Boutique was, in a lot of ways, indescribable. This would become the biggest Christmas Club that North OC YoungLives had ever hosted. With nearly 100 teen moms and dads attending with either pregnant bellies or one to two little ones in tow.

Entertain me for a minute or two…please, just think about it…nearly 100…ONE HUNDRED (!!!) teen parents joined us last Friday night!!! They came from Huntington Beach, Santa Ana, Costa Mesa, Westminster, Anaheim, Garden Grove, Buena Park, Orange, and Fountain Valley.

2017_Christmas_TeensBabies_GroupEach of the families were fed a delicious home cooked meal, had Christmas portraits taken by a professional photographer, and they sat at beautifully decorated tables. There were childcare volunteers to cuddle, play, comfort, and love on their little ones. They had the opportunity to shop from a “teen room” of clothing and accessories as well as to shopDSC_0531 for items for their children. They were each given a raffle ticket for a chance to win brand new toys, gift cards for themselves, iPads, make up kits, and more. And they left that night with a “goodie” bag that had makeup, a Children’s Bible story book, and a Target gift card.

There were also close to 100 volunteers that pitched in to make the night happen. From the family that collected & sorted ALL the Boutique clothing and accessory donations to another family that rented a truck to haul borrowed clothing racks from one location to another and return them the next day. A set up crew of 25 that prepared everything for the 6 pm gathering. Our friends from a life group who annually cook the Christmas meal showed up…even though they were in the midst of a pretty big heartache. Countless drivers and mentors got the young families safely there. The bakers baked dozens and dozens of cookies, a sweet music duo sang, the crazy game & skits team did their thing. Nearly 30 childcare volunteers had open arms and welcoming smiles. And when the evening came to an end, another ministry came to pack everything up to pass on to others the next day.

In the midst of all those wonderful love gifts described above that the young families were treated to, there was a 15 to 20 minute moment in time that became the turning point of the evening and for some, the turning point of their lives. At this particular moment, Myrna played a video with a couple clips from the Titanic movie. Seriously, it got so quiet in that room. Soooooooo quiet. The clip portrayed the intense love story between Jack & Rose. Myrna went on to share that deep down within we all want our own love story. In her words, “We all have a desire in us to be fully loved, fully known, and fully understood. That is how we were wired by God, the creator of this universe.” She continued on explaining to this Q U I E T room of young parents how only Jesus can fully understand us and love us unconditionally. And that He wants each and everyone one of us to accept Him as our own love story. “I don’t ever want to get so focused on jingle bells, Christmas presents, ornaments and trees, stockings, red and green, decorations, and basically the accumulation of more stuff that I forget what it is all about. That Christmas is here because Jesus loved us so much that He was born as a baby to Mary and Joseph and lived, breathed, and walked this earth because of His great love for us.”

Myrna went on to pray over the room and lead a general sinner’s prayer. Then she asked
for the teens to be brave. To raise their hand if they prayed that prayer for their own life. And in the midst of the quiet, on Friday, December 15th, 2017, hands were raised and ultimately, lives changed. Generations of lives. A love story unfolded last Friday night.DSC_0511

Merry Christmas, Colleen Drew (Area Office Administrator)

‘Twas the Day Before Christmas Club

‘Twas the day before Christmas club, when all through the town,

Volunteers were scurrying up, down and around;

Getting everything ready for the big night ahead,

Celebration, gift giving, and breaking of bread.

Toys were delivered, and clothing galore;

Word was out that YoungLives needed more.

The donations were piled up high to the sky;

The Bradley family wondered why? oh why?

Hundreds of fliers circulated with their address,

Telling all to drop off their unwanted best.

Tops, pants, and shoes, diapers and toys;

All of this dropped off for the sweet girls and boys.

There was food to be prepped, shopping to be done;

All to make sure the teen families have fun.

Rides were arranged and confirmation texts sent,

The kids would get to club, nothing would prevent.

Childcare workers were getting their rest,

They knew that Friday would require the best;

Rocking and loving, building blocks, and throwing balls,

All of this would happen down through the halls.

Clearing their schedules to be with the teens,

The mentors are priceless by all means!

They give their hearts, their time, their ears to listen;

All to encourage these teens to glisten!

This night is made special by the Word given;

A reminder that only by Jesus, we’re forgiven.

The message and story, thoughtfully prepared;

Hope, encouragement, Good News to be shared.

The set-up team, the music duo, the clean-up folks too,

All volunteers, this night could never happen without YOU!

Bringing Them Gifts

Have you ever paused for a minute to think about the word Thanksgiving? Well, when I stopped and thought about it, it made complete sense. I am so thankful that I know who Jesus is that I want to give Him to everyone I know around me.

Last month I had the honor to serve teen moms and dads at their high school. My wife Myrna, asked me if I would go with her to deliver some Thanksgiving boxes that were donated by a local church.

IMG_2463Arriving at the high school and meeting the teen moms and dads was amazing enough for me, but to be able to give them something and let them know that they are loved and appreciated was too much for me to handle. I had tears of joy running down my eyes. To meet them where they were at, to go to them and let them know of a new hope, love and mercy is what I am thankful of. To give them Jesus is what I am thankful for. After all, three wise men traveled across the continent to see this Savior named Jesus, and they brought the best gifts available, because they were thankful that a Savior had been born. Bringing these kids gifts is letting them know that we are thankful for them. We are thankful that they are parents at a young age and still thriving at school. We are thankful that they didn’t give up on their dreams, we are thankful that they allowed us and trusted us to walk beside them and care for them. We are so thankful that they are raising their beautiful babies. Letting them know ahead of Christmas that we are so thankful because we have met this Savior and we want them to meet Him too is really what this is all about.

 

To be able to see the joy and relief a gift brings to these kids is breath taking. Everything pauses for a second and only their beautiful smiles shine. Through all the darkness of this world and heaviness of their lives, their smiles shine bright in it all. Just that alone made a difference in my life personally, and for that I am thankful for these kids, they are strong, they are brave, they are bright; just allow them to be and they will be!

Humbled by a greater love, Yousef Bittar