#YFCBetheStory: Youth For Christ Denver Leaders to Teen Parents: ‘We Are in This With You’
YFC Parent Life Ministry Leaders Meet Teen Parents Right Where They Are, Providing Much-Needed Interaction, Support—and Fun, Too
May 26, 2020
DENVER—Last fall, the Youth For Christ (YFC) Parent Life ministry in Denver connected with a small public charter school that is tailored to the unique needs of teen parents. Through the New Legacy Charter School in Aurora, YFC leaders began forming relationships with teen moms through a volleyball team.
Trust was building, the girls were meeting mentors who had Jesus at the center of their lives, and the team aspect provided a bit more of a “normal” high school experience—plus all were having fun! By January, a smaller YFC Parent Life group also began meeting on Monday evenings at a local church to talk, share dinner, bond, do homework, plan meals, learn parenting skills and much more.
Then COVID-19 hit and activities around the country came to a screeching halt. But leaders at YFC knew that ministry and outreach couldn’t stop.
“We have this idea that we want to be self-sufficient, so declaring that we need each other somehow feels weak or insufficient, but in the mission of Youth For Christ, the beautiful thing right now is that we need each other,” said Youth For Christ President Dan Wolgemuth. “From a national perspective and a local perspective, we work together to make sure one thing happens—that more and more young people who often feel overlooked, marginalized or undervalued realize they are valued, not just by us but by the God of the universe. That’s a beautiful picture of the way Jesus operated and instructs us as we come together in His name in unity. That’s what we believe, and that’s what we’re a part of in Youth For Christ.”
To keep unity a priority, Kristen Sarfraz, Parent Life Director for Denver Area Youth For Christ, along with her fellow ministry leaders, began to brainstorm about how the Monday night gathering could continue virtually, at least temporarily. Normally on these evenings, the group of young parents—both moms and dads—would meet in person, have dinner together then break into small groups of girls and guys, while the babies and toddlers were provided care.
Once Parent Life had to “go virtual,” Kristen’s husband, Vince, also the YFC Brand & Campaign Manager, along with YFC volunteer Dave Johnson would interact with the young guys by playing video games—together but apart—doing fitness activities and discussing finances.
Meanwhile, Kristen and her team planned virtual scavenger hunts, hosted health talks and sometimes just chatted. But the mom of a 3-year-old herself began seeing that the girls were craving personal interaction.
“These teen moms also are full-time students, and when they are in school at New Legacy, their babies are in full-time childcare,” Kristen said. “Now they are learning from home while watching their babies or active toddlers. We see them having tough weeks with new, added challenges. Education can begin taking a back seat.”
Therefore, the YFC Parent Life team began helping the girls set education and healthy life goals through the Monday virtual meetings. These might be homework-related, setting goals for the school quarter, crossing items off a short list or even committing to getting enough sleep. This past Friday, the YFC Parent Life crew embarked on an ice cream truck trip to the girls houses to provide a surprise reward for fulfilling these goals.
With a cooler full of ice cream bars, Kristen, Vince, their daughter, Victori, and other YFC Parent Life team members drove around to the girls’ homes to deliver the cool treats to them and their children. Even sharing an ice cream bar across the sidewalk and chatting for a few minutes fills the need for human interaction the young moms are craving, Kristen said.
“We’re just trying to come alongside them for both those tangible and intangible needs, letting them know that we are parents too and we have the same struggles,” she added.
Similar outreaches this spring provided similar outcomes. At Easter, the YFC group delivered Easter baskets to the young families, while Johnson, an accomplished photographer, took “porch portraits” from a safe distance. Then several weeks ago, the team also dropped off pizza kits from a local pizza shop on a Sunday evening and told the moms that they would need the supplies for the following night’s Monday meeting. Once all were gathered online, the group opened the pizza kits, assembled, baked and enjoyed pizza together. Photos of the pizza-loving families were shared, and a collage was created for the whole group. Additionally, on June 1, the YFC team will drop off a graduation basket and organize a car parade to celebrate the remarkable accomplishment of the high school graduation of one of the teen mothers.
“We’re always looking for something we can all do together—staff, volunteers, young moms and our kids,” Kristen said. “This virus has put all of us—ministry leaders and those we serve—on the same level. We could all use a meal sometimes, and we can all use a fun activity. We want to say, ‘We are in this with you.’
“They’re so desperate to see people and talk to people, so we know we will need to add more activities like this in the coming months,” she added. “The element of fun is important, and we need to remember that, too—a space for them to have fun and to do something that’s just for them, while their child can also participate. This is a family. We’re inviting these teen parents and their families into the larger YFC family.”
Nationally, Youth For Christ is telling inspiring stories like these through #YFCBeTheStory, an initiative to help spread the word across the nation about how YFC chapters are making a difference in their communities. In Denver, YFC is hosting a #SeetheStory Campus Life event on June 30. Learn more or register here.
Youth for Christ has been a pillar of missional ministry since 1944, when the Rev. Billy Graham served as YFC’s first full-time staff member. Since then, Youth For Christ has continued to be both a rural and urban ministry on mission, and always about the message of Jesus. YFC reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ, and commitment to social involvement. Youth For Christ operates in over 100 nations and has more than 160 chapters impacting communities across America.
To interview a Youth For Christ representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Patrick Benner, 610.584.1096, ext. 104, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.