I work with teenage moms at Hope House of Colorado—this year, we’ve served 220 amazing moms and their children. These girls come to Hope House determined to become self-sufficient and work toward a better life for their children. Every day they face a murderer’s row of challenges: abandonment, poverty, homelessness, and sometimes abuse. It’s hard to overshadow the joy I experience when one of these marginalized, ostracized, and brutalized girls discovers how significant she is in God’s sight. Their faith starts when they discover they’re loved beyond measure, known, and never alone.
Often I’m taken aback by how our teenage moms fully embrace their life with Christ. Three catalyst draw them to Jesus and shape the way they live out their faith and love those around them.
1. God Is Radically Personal— They experience God’s love as penetrating and personal—one told me that she saw Jesus send just the right people at the right time into her life when Hope House arranged to put her up in a hotel so she wouldn’t have to sleep in her car during a winter blizzard. In youth ministry we talk a lot about God’s love, but that message penetrates to the core when we capitalize on opportunities to help them experience it. We must have “eyes to see and ears to hear” these opportunities. I’ve heard many teenage moms say: “I experience Jesus every time I get an encouraging text from someone at Hope House” or “I experience Jesus when I walk into Hope House because no one judges me.”
[tweet_box design=”default” float=”none”]In youth ministry we talk a lot about God’s love, but that message penetrates to the core when we capitalize on opportunities to help them experience it. We must have “eyes to see and ears to hear” these opportunities.[/tweet_box]
2. Relationships That Are Radically Mutual—My faith is growing right alongside the faith of the teenage moms I serve. Iron sharpens iron in my relationships—that means we’re both learning to trust and listen to each other. I refuse to judge her, and she refuses to judge me. We grow in wisdom and in faith together. Two blades, sharpening one another. Are you creating a space for mutual relationships with the teenagers you serve? When kids sense that their adult leaders are focused only on their growth, and not their own personal growth, they feel like a project, not a valued community member. Find a way to express to the teenagers you serve specific ways they are contributing to your spiritual growth.
3. Faith That Allows Radical Space for Doubt—Like anyone, teenage moms struggle with doubt. With so much adversity to overcome, can God’s power and love be real? When we lean in to doubt instead of “solve” it, and give teenagers space to, question and struggle, the constancy of God’s love emerges out of the muck. Kids must know that doubt does not disqualify them as a follower of Jesus—instead, it can help fuel their ability to know Jesus at a deeper level. How are you creating a safe space for teenagers who are struggling with doubt?