About six years ago I had a special announcement for my husband, so I made him a special dinner. He walked in the door and I told him the menu. “Tonight we are having BABY back ribs, sweet BABY ray’s bbq sauce, and BABY carrots.” Jeff said “Oh that’s funny. All those things have “baby” in the name.” It took him a minute to figure out the announcement was that I was pregnant!
We dreamed and planned for this first baby of ours until about halfway through the pregnancy when our dreams came to a crushing end. I found myself being rushed to the hospital in an ambulance, doctors telling me that I’m already in labor and they can’t stop it. That night I delivered our first son, Caleb, born at just 20 weeks and too small to live.
We were devastated. This wasn’t how I planned things. The grief and sadness were overwhelming. Instead of decorating a nursery, we were planning a funeral. Instead of picking out baby clothes, we were picking out a gravestone. We stood in the front of the church, with a shoebox-sized coffin in front of us, while the congregation sang “Great is Thy Faithfulness,” a song I had chosen. I was crying too hard to sing the words, but in my heart I knew it to be true. “Morning by morning new mercies I see. All I have needed the Lord has provided.” But amidst all the questions and sadness, I stood firm on the foundation of faith I had, knowing that, even though I don’t understand it all, I know that God is good, that He is faithful and He loves me.
A few weeks later I went back to work, only to find the non-profit I worked for needed to restructure and now I was out of a job. I was supposed to be a stay-at-home mom, but now I’m home with no job and no baby. Again the grief feels overwhelming, but I stand on the foundation of faith.
I get a call from the Young Life area director at the time saying the office administrator moved away and asking if I have any time that I could help in the office. “Yes!” in fact I had a lot of time. Instead of having an identity crisis and sinking into despair, volunteering at the Young Life office gave me a purpose, a reason to wake up in the morning.
About six months later I got pregnant again and this time I was confident everything was going to be fine. But halfway through the pregnancy, I began to have the same problems. Thankfully the doctors were able to do surgery and keep the baby safe inside me. Except it meant I had to be on bed rest for 4 months – flat on my back for 4 months. Those 4 months could have been so boring. But friends and family, and many Young Life friends surrounded me. They brought me dinners, made me lunch, brought me Starbucks. These Young Life friends didn’t even know me very well, but knew a Young Life friend was in need and they were going to do what they could to help.
Those months of bed rest could have been filled with fear and worry and anxiety. Because of losing Caleb, I understood very clearly that bed rest meant life or death for this baby. But I stood firm on the foundation of faith, trusting that God is good, He is faithful and He loves me.
Well the rest of the pregnancy was miraculous and Jack was born. He is 4 years old now. I have another son, Parker, who is almost one year old. In fact I wasn’t at last year’s Young Life banquet, because I was in the hospital giving birth to Parker!
I tell you these stories because they are examples of things not going as I planned. I’m sure you can relate – whether it’s losing a child, losing a job, death of a loved one, an illness, a wayward child, a divorce – the list goes on of things that happen in our lives that we didn’t plan. The question isn’t IF something happens, but WHEN something happens in your life that you didn’t plan, what are you going to do? When the world as you know it falls apart and you are at rock bottom, what will you be standing on?
I had a foundation of faith because of people that poured into my life when I was a teenager. People who showed me what it looks like to be a Christian, how to trust God even when I don’t have all the answers. I learned verses in the Bible that showed me God is good, He is faithful and He loves me. I had a Foundation of Faith to stand on.
Tonight you have the opportunity to give a foundation of faith to students. You have the opportunity to partner with Young Life and ensure that teens across Naperville & Aurora hear about the God who is good, who is faithful, and who loves them. You can be part of their story, so one day when their world is shaken and their plans don’t work out, they have a solid Foundation of Faith to stand on.
Maybe you came in here with a number in mind of what you were going to give. But I encourage you, now that you’ve heard about how great ministry is, you’ve heard our vision for the future, you’ve seen these kids and heard how God has used Young Life to change their lives. Think about how much it’s worth. How much is it worth to provide a foundation of faith? How much is it worth to reach another student, another class of students, another school? How much is it worth?
There are many ways you can spend your money. But they’re temporary. You buy a shirt, but eventually the shirt gets stained, or doesn’t fit or isn’t in style. You buy groceries, but then your family eats all the food and you have to go back to the store. You can buy stocks and see incremental increases or decreases. But it’s still temporary. Not with Young Life. Giving to Young Life is investing in our community. Investing in our students. As a Young Life donor, you are part of these students’ stories. Your donation is making an eternal impact.
You can see in the program that our annual budget is $400,000. A gift of any amount is wonderful and we thank you for that. But what we really need are monthly donors, that helps us know how much money is coming in each month and how to plan for the future. We are also looking for people to be Foundational Donors, which means giving $10,000 each year for three years. I encourage you to give generously, where your gift will make an eternal impact, where students will hear about the God who is good, who is faithful and who loves them. Give where you can provide a Foundation of Faith.
Give Online or Email me (Debbie@ylchicago.com) to be a Foundational Donor