Serving that Reaches Two Generations
Women at a church in Midland, Michigan, love to bless and support young single moms.
“To walk beside a young mom, encouraging her in her life’s journey, is one of the biggest blessings of my life,” says Merci Danielson.
Danielson mentors moms through Young Lives, an outreach program of Young Life that her church, Midland Reformed, hosts during the school year. “We have club two times each month where countless women and men [from churches around Midland] serve as mentors, club helpers, childcare workers, and also provide some of the meals we enjoy each club,” says Danielson.
As a mentor, Danielson contacts two moms on a weekly basis, sending a text, going out to lunch, or planning an outing together. She also sees the young women at club meetings and Young Lives group activities, which have included traveling to a pumpkin farm, a petting zoo, concerts, and a children’s museum.
“We are passionate about these girls!” says Danielson. “We know how much they love their babies and how much they want to be good moms. We are here to let these girls know they can do it, and do it well. Most importantly, we are here to provide unconditional love for them and their children. We point them to Christ. Their life circumstances are very difficult, but they know they are not alone.”
Danielson learned about Young Lives more than three years ago when Young Life decided to bring the program to Midland and chose a friend of Danielson’s to direct it. “Susan Marsh called me out of the blue and asked if I would come to an informational meeting,” says Danielson. “I knew I would do it from the moment I heard her message on the answering machine. I love teenagers, I am passionate about being a mom, and I want to share the truth about our amazing Savior.”
Danielson, three other women from Midland Reformed, and lots of women from other Midland churches volunteered to support a Young Lives camp last summer. Danielson and Janet Lane served as mentors and Julie DeRuiter and Suzi Thomas provided childcare.
“The Midland contingent was pretty homogeneous, as our town is mostly Caucasian,” says Danielson. “At camp, we were with quite a diverse ethnic group. We had groups from all over Michigan, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, and even a group from Alaska. Close to 100 teen moms and their babies attended this year.”
The week-long event was held at a Young Life camp in Lake City, Michigan, 80 miles northwest of Midland. Moms and mentors gathered for music and a speaker followed by small-group discussions. The rest of the day, the moms enjoyed a blob, kayaks, a ropes course, go-carts, tubing, and a zip line.
“Both of the girls that I mentor came to camp this year!” says Danielson. “The Midland group included eight girls, seven babies, and 10 mentors. We are praising God that all eight girls either dedicated their lives to Christ for the first time or made a recommitment.”
“The best part about volunteering for childcare at camp was loving on, praying, and reciting Scripture over these precious children,” says Thomas. “It was an outstanding time of blessing and being blessed.”
“I have grown so much by being part of this ministry,” says Danielson. “I have learned so much about the challenges people face who live in the poverty cycle. Ironically, participating in this ministry has made me feel more hopeful. Having a front row seat to see God at work has made me realize what an amazing and all-powerful God we serve.”