A Life Group Desires to Serve

Melissa Smith shares about her Life Group’s volunteering experience with YoungLives. They have been such a gift to the Club nights by their consistency, flexibility, availability, willingness, kindness, smiles, and BIG hearts.
 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God. If anyone serves, they should do so with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory and power for ever and ever. Amen.” ~ 1 Peter 4:10-11
The apostle Peter is giving an exhortation to use the gifts graciously given to us by God to bless others. Of particular emphasis is the instruction to serve others. I was recently reading this scripture and it so appropriately tied in with what I wanted to share about my experience serving at the North OC YoungLives gathering with my Life Group. Our Life Group began meeting in June 2017 and after a few months of meeting, we all shared a passion and desire to begin ministering to others outside of our group. In particular, there was a desire to serve in a volunteer capacity, so we set out discerning which ministry we should partner with. It was clear in the discussions that we were unified in a desire to serve, love on, and care for the YoungLives community. In October 2017, we began volunteering together every other month.


This past Thursday, I had the privilege of volunteering at the North OC YoungLives monthly gathering along with eight other individuals from our Life Group. This was our 3rd time as a group serving the teens and their little ones, and we wanted to share a bit about our experience.


It has been tremendous seeing the consistency thus far in our group members’ attendance and participation with serving. We have a group of 12 adults and 10 children, and we have averaged eight volunteers serving each time! We have been received so wonderfully by the YoungLives community and staff. It has been a joy to share a meal with the community and to serve in the different volunteer roles provided.


This particular Thursday, two from our group served by setting up and organizing the donations table in order for the teen parents to easily peruse and choose items, one took photos of the evening and also served in childcare, two people helped with clean-up, and six of us served in childcare. Speaking on behalf of our group, I can say that it was such a blessing for us to love on the teen parents, their children, and the YoungLives staff. Our group is looking forward to our continued partnership!

     ~Melissa Smith, Volunteer

Grace and Unconditional Love

I always get super excited leading up to the first Tuesday of the month because that means it’s YoungLives Santa Ana Club night! I have been part of YoungLives since November and each gathering has been so special in it’s own way. Not only is it so much fun hanging with these young teen parents, loving on their littles, and catching up with the young moms or dads I’ve gotten to know so far, but the “talk” time is also super cool.  This last Club night Myrna shared from Luke 15, which tells the story of the “lost son” or the prodigal son, who took his inheritance from his Father, went off to a distant country where he lived wildly and spent everything he had only to realize he had sinned against Heaven and his own father. When the son came back to his father, the father ran to his son, threw his arms around him, kissed him and had a feast to celebrate his son’s return!  Wow, what an amazing illustration of grace and unconditional love!

After the club talk, we gathered into small groups with the young moms and dads to chat and it was so cool to hear their perspectives and hearts. Some shared that knowing that God loves you so much makes you feel safe even when you sin. It was such a vivid reminder to me of how our Heavenly Father is always waiting with open arms for us to come back to Him despite circumstances were in or decisions we’ve made.



During craft time, the mammas got to decorate a coffee mug with Valentine’s themed decor and I was so impressed by their creativity. Some moms wrote their children’s name on the mug, some used heart-shaped stencils and others wrote dates that meant something special to them on their mug. I loved how one mom wrote her favorite scripture on her mug. I was also privileged to spend some time traveling to and from Club with one momma and her sweet two-year old boy. It was a great night and I can’t wait to see what’s in store next time!

~Kelsey Calderon, mentor

My Camp Experience

Last Saturday, I went to my first Young Life Camp in Ramona, California with North OC YoungLives. The camp is called Oakbridge. We took seven teen moms, three teen dads, and their babies and toddlers from both the Huntington Beach and Santa Ana clubs. As a leader, I had the opportunity to be with the moms for the weekend which was special as I am a new mother myself with another on the way. I didn’t know what to expect, but I pictured a more “rugged” camp experience remembering my church camp days when I was a kid. A close friend had assured me that Young Life Camps are “really nice,” and boy, was she right! After a much-needed group pit stop at In-N-Out for dinner, we arrived Friday night around 8:00 p.m., entering the camp down a dark, winding dirt road. Even in the dark with the lights illuminating the campground, I could tell this would not be that “rugged” experience I had as a kid. There was a nice swimming pool, tennis and basketball courts, and even beach volleyball.  The cabins were really nice too.


Leaders Lynn & Jessica with Kelsey


Club time!


Messy Games

After the leaders, teen moms, and the babies unpacked and got settled in to our two very nice rooms with multiple bunk beds, babies were delivered to childcare and campers and leaders met up for our first club night. For those not familiar with Young Life, Club is a time where we all piled into a room set up like a small auditorium with a stage. A band played fun pop culture music, which we all sang along to. Then the infamous skit happened – Hurricane and Tornado entered the room to an 80’s heavy metal song dressed in full-on 80’s heavy metal band attire, (i.e. silver shiny pants, big hair wigs and fingerless leather gloves!) The skit unfolded as the two remained in character about being an infamous air guitar band there to perform at Oakbridge Camp.  That’s when the crazy games turned up a notch. A leader and a student got called up from the various Young Life and YoungLives locations in southern California. The games were all a bit crazy, such as leaders having to chug a 2-liter bottle of diet soda through their student’s sock as fast as they could.  It was all in good fun and very entertaining and hysterical and also, a little gross.

After games, the most impactful and memorable part of camp happened – the teens got to learn about Jesus. The camp speaker for the weekend was Robbie Boyer, the Area Director from Newport Mesa Young Life. The theme for the weekend was “Who Is God and Why Do We Care?” Over the course of the weekend, we had four club events together that included four different stories for the teens to learn about Jesus. Robbie shared the story of Jairus’ daughter when Jesus stops for the woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, the story of the woman caught in adultery that the Pharisees wanted to stone but Jesus saves, and finally the story of the crucifixion and resurrection.

After each club, we had cabin time where each group went back to their cabins to talk about the message. Through this intimate time, the teens got to learn more about Jesus, ask questions, and be open and honest with where they’re at with various struggles in their lives.  I believe these were the most impactful times for the teens.  For some, it was the first time they had someone to really listen to them or answer their questions. It was really cool to see how they were learning about Jesus and his character through these stories Robbie shared – that Jesus loves them and wants a relationship with them despite what they were struggling with in their lives.

The weekend was filled with fun, good food, silly and messy games, hanging out, holding and caring for cute babies, and getting to bond with these amazing teen moms that I couldn’t admire more for all their hard work and sacrifices they are making for their children.  I feel so honored that I could attend this camp as a leader and am looking forward to seeing how Jesus continues to work in these teen moms and dads’ lives.

~Jessica Watkins, YoungLives Mentor


Get Out There & Serve!

Meet Laurie Bradley, our Huntington Beach Club Coordinator and Committee Member sharing her experience as the Childcare Lead for the Young Life Oakbridge High School Winter Camp.

I had the wonderful opportunity of going to camp this past weekend! We took seven mamas, three dads, and six sweet children to the foothills of Ramona. I didn’t really know what to expect. This was a camp for high school teenagers, not teen parents.

How would this work? Would it work?

Upon arriving on Friday afternoon we went to work to transform a lounge and a game room into “nurseries” for our own North OC YoungLives babies and toddlers as well as the other 16 YoungLives little ones from the San Clemente and Escondido area clubs. It was really fun to work alongside my friends (that would also be caring for the children), transforming these spaces into safe and welcoming areas for the babies. We moved furniture and game tables, brought in toys, swings, play pens, craft supplies and LOTS of snacks. We were ready for the moms and babies to arrive!Laurie,Cristen,ColleenAround 7 pm we rushed down the hill to meet the car loads of teen parents, babies and volunteers. I was so excited to get started! We had no idea what to expect as the babies were dropped off with us that first night. In the “Newborn to Walkers” room we had 10 babies under the age of one. We had five “helpers” in our nursery, three of them were pretty inexperienced but willing to do anything! I was humbled by the way these young people dug in and did what was necessary to care for these little ones. The first night was a late one, we had babies until almost 12am. I was really worried about having them that late but that first night was so good. The babies all fell asleep and we had such a sweet, peaceful night. There were literally babies everywhere, we had four playpens, two swings and five sets of arms – every place held a baby. We even had one young man volunteering with us that wore a front pack with a baby in it because that was the only way the baby would fall asleep. It was great!

The next day was full of activities for the teens. We had the babies for about seven hours total. The day was so full of joy and fun as we held babies, rocked them to sleep, and got to interact with their moms. It was so cool getting to spend some time with the moms of these babies as well. As long as I’ve been involved in YoungLives I have been amazed at how brave, strong, and capable these young moms are. This weekend experience gave me an even closer look into their lives as they often came into the nursery to nurse, change, or check on their babies. I was able to have sweet conversation with a few of the moms and was impressed again that these girls are doing an amazingly hard thing raising their babies while most of them are trying to graduate high school.

The girls and guys that attended camp heard the gospel clearly presented and were given an opportunity to move closer to Jesus. I am humbled that God allows us to be a part of what He is doing. I want to end this by encouraging you to get out there and serve! There is truly no greater blessing, it gives us the opportunity to get outside of ourselves and our own circumstances and focus on others. Whatever form serving takes, it’s always a blessing! We go into it thinking we’re going to be the ones blessing others and we end up being far more blessed ourselves!

2018OakbridgeGroup“You my brothers and sisters were called to be free, but don’t use your freedom to indulge in the flesh. Rather serve one another humbly in love.” Galatians 5:13