I walked in to the YoungLives Giving Gala on October 5th with my brand new friend and teen mom, Stephany. I was already feeling God’s presence as He had so carefully orchestrated Stephany and I meeting that evening. We instantly clicked and had already begun to have an open and pretty vulnerable conversation that was creating an incredible connection only God could have made happen.
The room looked beautiful. The ceiling was illuminated with string lights bringing warmth and comfort to the space. The tables were decorated with exquisite displays of delicate flowers, vintage books and old metal keys; an alluring juxtaposition of past and present, beauty and brokenness.
A few dedicated people were there making sure everything was just right and waiting in anticipation for what the night would bring. My photographer husband was walking around being sure to capture photos of everything in the calm before the storm. The food was being prepared and smelled delicious. Catering staff appeared ready to go. Everything looked and felt perfect.
What made this whole thing even more amazing was that it truly was one big display of love; showcasing what YoungLives is genuinely all about. The entire event was sponsored to ensure ALL of the money raised that night would be given to North OC YoungLives to support the sincere efforts of getting resources, love and assistance to the teen moms and dads in Orange County.
God’s presence in the room was overwhelming. I prayed quietly to myself that He would open the hearts of those attending to see the truth of how YoungLives was impacting the youth of our community.
The theme of the evening was “We are the Story”.
One of the most special parts of the night was when that theme really came to life and some of the teen moms and dads got up to talk about what YoungLives had done for them, their children, and ultimately their lives. Stephany was one of the moms speaking. Even though she was a little nervous, I encouraged her not to worry because what she had to offer was so important and God would give her the right words. I was excited for her to get up and share with everyone.
As the teen moms and dads were on the stage baring their hearts in front of a group of strangers, I thought about how strong each and every one of them was. First of all, to have been courageous enough to give their babies a life when they knew it wouldn’t be easy, is an act of bravery like none other. Now, to get up and share some of their deepest thoughts and feelings so people could see the impact that YoungLives has had on them, their families and their futures? It showed how absolutely fearless they can be as well as how much they believe in what YoungLives is doing and has done for them.
Stephany with Area Director, Myrna Bittar
Stephany shared so many wonderful things with me about how YoungLives has completely changed her, her perspective and her motives through reintroducing her to God and making her realize there is so much more to life. So much so, that she was already talking about wanting to come back and volunteer with the program. I am excited to continue to walk on this journey with her and see where God takes her. She is determined to finish school this year and I have no doubt that she will. She is tenacious and a fighter. I can’t wait to celebrate her graduation and huge accomplishment with her and her son.
Having been a very young parent in a not so great situation, I’m so thankful for this ministry and all its doing. I wish I had something like this during that tough time in my life. However, I’m glad I can at least share my story with others and encourage them that there is hope; that life is not over because you’ve had a baby. No. Life actually has become something more.
To the teen moms and dads out there, you have made the right choice. You can do this. You are strong. You are loved. You are admired. Keep going, ask for help when you need it, walk with God and know He will use your story to encourage others.
To YoungLives thank you for allowing me to be a part of your story.
Amber and her husband Tony
Amber Matos, YoungLives Mentor