Jesus on the Mainline

From the Fall 2009 issue of Relationships magazine.

Every morning — not five days a week but seven, not 9 a.m. but 5 a.m. — YoungLives (Young Life's ministry to teen moms) Washington DC Director Sharon Holland and six other devoted prayer warriors dial up the prayer line. "The primary focus is kingdom building. We pray for the nation, families, marriages, teenagers and the babies," said Holland.

Three years ago when the morning conference call began, Sharon Holland was overwhelmed. After working in youth development for 20 years and YoungLives for more than five, the problems were outweighing the solutions. "No answers, no leadership. We needed the power of prayer. We had to cry out because if there was no YoungLives what was left was cocaine, prostitution and prison."

Holland knows. She, too, was a teen mom. Without a father around, she was "looking for love in all the wrong places; looking for guys to provide what my father did not." Marrying hastily, two years later she found herself divorced at 21. "Life went spiral … when you are in a life of brokenness and hurt, there is a lot of darkness." But Jesus met her there.

She went to school, took a job at a university, and began working with youth and singles. Holland is well aware that she is a success story. "God, my Father, has redeemed and restored." Her son is now 27 years old and serves in the Air Force. "He is a fabulous husband and father." Holland's grandson "is the joy of my life."

Her story and her prayers are the source of much hope for the more than 200 moms involved in YoungLives DC. Eighty-five percent of these moms are court ordered, meaning that Child Protective Services is involved with their case. The courts have given Young Lives the opportunity to provide life skills, mentoring and parenting classes.

"It's the system or us," said Holland. "The name of the game is survival." This incredible challenge is what brings her and her team to their knees. "Prayer is our glue. It keeps me sane and gives us hope."