Not a Statistic

Young Lives has had a huge impact on my life. I began my senior year of high school preparing not for college, but to be a mother. Everyone knows the statistics about teen moms. Statistics show teen mothers are less likely to complete high school, much less attempt college, and therefore, more likely to live in poverty. Without Young Lives being a part of my life, these statistics could have become my reality.

Growing up in Griffin, Ga., my life was always busy with either church or school. Through the busy days, I realized I had this void in my life that needed to be filled with acceptance and love. I started searching for something. I participated in every sport or activity possible to try to fill it. I quickly realized these were not satisfying or sustaining. I began trying to fill my life with guys, hoping they could give me love and acceptance. Being sexually active at the age of 16 did everything but give me the satisfaction I longed for.

Finally, my senior year arrived! I was accepted into my first choice for college with scholarships lined up for me. It was going to be a great year. Three weeks before school started, however, I found out I was pregnant. My first thought was, "I can't be a mother. Now all my dreams will swiftly go down the drain." Not only was I still empty inside, but I now had to care for and love my baby, a love I knew nothing about.

One day I was eating lunch and in walked Gina Ficklen. I recognized her from sports and Young Life but wasn't sure why she sat down across from me. She began telling me about Young Lives. She explained it was only for teen moms and was going to be fun. She had won me over right then. Oh, how I needed to be around others who knew what I was feeling and going through. And I so needed to have fun. (Little did I know Gina would become my mentor and teach me about a man named Jesus who could fill my void with His love and acceptance!)

Young Lives club happened once a month and those days couldn't come fast enough. I looked forward to being around my new friends and seeing how their babies had grown over the past month. Gina, now my mentor, not only told me about Jesus and His forgiving love, but also lived it out. I knew someday I wanted to be a mentor to a girl who felt hopeless, and show her the hope and love that Gina showed me. They invited me to a camp called SharpTop Cove (Young Life's camp in Georgia). I had heard about it from Young Life friends, but was a bit skeptical. I went and it was beyond the best weekend of my life. I came home a new person because I had learned more about Jesus and rededicated my life to Him.

At Young Lives, I felt accepted and loved. It gave me hope that I could finish high school, go to college and be the best mother for my sweet baby. I graduated my senior year with honors and a relationship with Jesus — a relationship, that if not for Young Lives, I would not have.

Today I am married to the father of my two precious children. We've been married for three years and are youth leaders at our church. I'm now the Young Lives coordinator in Griffin and get to help young ladies going through what I experienced. I can only hope I show them what Gina showed me — Jesus and His unconditional love, a love I now know all about.

Without Young Lives, my life would not be the same. I would just be another statistic with no hope and no future.

Want to know more about our ministry to teenage moms? Check out the Young Lives section on younglife.org .