As I prepare to embark on a move across the country with my husband, I can’t help but reflect on the similarities of the journey to where I am today in life and my experience with YoungLives. I was first introduced to YoungLives by a woman in my Bible study and was looking for a way to get involved in ministry. My first time volunteering was for the Christmas boutique two years ago, and I spent the entire night loving on little ones while their parents enjoyed whatever was happening outside of the nursery. It wasn’t a grand, life changing experience in that moment but it was a step in faith to where God was calling me.
I ended up registering for Fall Kickoff volunteer training the next August and in those eight months thought about all of the ways I was going to serve those girls and the ways I was going to impact their lives. I had checked off Mentor with enthusiasm on the application and decided to take a look at Committee positions as well because a couple of the roles peaked my interest. Well, that first year I wasn’t a Mentor as I had been planning but I stepped into the Committee role of Community Outreach Specialist. Community Outreach Specialist? What does that even mean? What did I get myself into? I have no idea what I’m doing. This was not my plan. These are the thoughts that went through my head as I accepted the position. Turns out the role involves reaching out to businesses and people in the community who may want to support the organization in either specific or general giving. I figured, OK, not so bad, there isn’t much pressure and I can figure this out.
A couple of months later the decision was made to hold another Giving Gala the following year, in 2018. It is by far the biggest event of our year and it is a wonderful experience for all who attend. Part of the Giving Gala is a silent auction and guess who was in charge…yep, that’s me. I can not even lie about how terrified I was to take this on. Am I even qualified? What if I fail? Another step in faith and although I still didn’t believe I was qualified to head this up, God held all the power in the situation and it wasn’t until I learned to relinquish the power to Him that the whole experience became much more enjoyable. With help from other Committee members and members of my church community we were able to make the silent auction a big success!
It was definitely a time of spiritual growth as I learned to ask for help and to lean into God. I continued in the Community Outreach position the rest of the year and into the next. I was also eager to step into a Mentor position so I could really have an impact! I felt ready and I did get to mentor as I had hoped I would. Terror again. What if the girls didn’t like me? What if I said something stupid? Oh man, Nicole, what were you thinking? The first night I drove a girl to club, my stomach was nervous the entire ride there but the ride home was much easier and every encounter after that got better and better.
I also volunteered to teach YoungLives Parenting Classes at a local high school in Garden Grove. Twice a month, Myrna and I collaborated to prepare a lesson for a group of about 8-10 girls. The teen parents warmed up a lot faster than I anticipated and soon were asking questions and sharing from their hearts. Each time we met, Myrna would invite them to the next club and I would encourage them to go. I don’t think even one of them showed up until November and it was one of the most exciting experiences of my life. That is, until the Christmas boutique this past December. Nothing compares to the feeling of seeing about a half dozen of the girls you have been loving on, walk through the doors to experience all that YoungLives has to offer. The entire night was amazing. My experience this second time at the Christmas boutique was much different than my first. Having built a relationship with other volunteers, and getting to know the girls through club and the Parenting Classes really changed my perspective regarding how this event played into the big picture.
What I had anticipated would be a way God would use me to serve teen parents was also a way in which those teen parents served me. The past two years that I have been involved in this ministry has stretched me out of my comfort zone, has deepened my relationship with Christ and has shown me that all it takes is a step of faith over and over again to where God is calling. I know now that God does not choose those who are qualified but he qualifies the called. He has provided not only for me but also for this ministry because it aligns with His will. I am confident that God will continue to provide for this ministry and as difficult as it is to step away from the North Orange County chapter and step into this new chapter of my life, I know that God has His hand in it and that this first step of faith is only the beginning. Thank you Young Life for persevering in your mission to reach teens and young adults with the Word and for continuing to support YoungLives as they love on teen parents and their babies. Thank you Myrna, Colleen, Committee and volunteers for all of the ways you work to serve those parents without judgement. Thank you, whoever you may be, for subscribing to the email list and reading this post. If you have ever had an inkling of an inclination to get involved but something has held you back, I encourage you to take that small step of faith now and trust that God’s plans are greater than your own.
Nicole Vidal, Committee Member and Mentor (and someone that we will greatly miss!!!!)