I first became a teen mother at 16. When I found out that I was pregnant I was unusually happy. At that stage in my life I was headed down a very dark path of alcoholism, drug addiction, and promiscuity. My perception of life was that I was useless, not valuable, and un-loved, therefore, I had absolutely no reason to change. The prospect of being responsible for another life however gave me a reason to want to change. I knew that I couldn’t continue doing what I was doing and that I would finally have someone who would love me unconditionally. I didn’t have a relationship with God yet and I hadn’t received unconditional love and desperately craved it. I am absolutely positive that this brokenness is at the root of why young women become pregnant so young. They are in need of love. REAL TANGIBLE LOVE.
My father was in my life until I was 7. During that time he was very abusive in all forms. My mother finally had the courage to leave him and she began the struggle of single parenting two young daughters. As the years went on there were other male influences in our lives but none stayed. This was damaging and my sister and I learned not to trust. However, even though I did not trust men I desperately sought out affection from them. Only, I wasn’t looking for a partner. I was looking for a father and that is exactly what I got.
Before I made my way to Stepping Stones of Youth Unlimited in Surrey, every day was a struggle to survive amidst drug addicted family members, emotional and physical abuse, and poverty. We were in such poverty we couldn’t afford to pay the gas bill and so we went through winter being able to see our breath in the air of our home. I would spend mornings boiling water over the stove so I could make a bath for all of us to use. Every Wednesday was spent in a food bank line up, outside in the cold with my three children. Lunches would be eaten at the native friendship center and for a long time dinner would be soup and bannock. I got so desperate I started stealing cheese and milk from the grocery store by putting it in the basket under the stroller.
I was 19 when I first received support from the Youth Unlimited staff and volunteers at the Stepping Stones program in Surrey BC, and they gave me new hope! By connecting with other teen moms and hearing their stories, I learned that I wasn’t alone. I had a new joy as I had something to look forward to each week. I felt like a better mom. I was accepted there, not judged, like every other place in society. Stepping Stones was able to love me and my children when we didn’t feel like anyone loved us at all, when we felt abandoned and cast out by society. The mentors at Stepping Stones showed me what life could be like, they gave me a new dream and something to strive for by taking us to places I only dreamed of taking my little family to. I remember going for picnics at the Vancouver Aquarium, and family camps just to name a couple of things. I remember thinking WOW, I am just like other moms taking my children to these places where they can learn and experience different things. I remember thinking life could be so much more than what I was experiencing. I knew that the women who were helping me loved and served Jesus and I wanted to have a relationship with Jesus so I could have what these women had. I wanted to be like them.
My hope now is that through Mission Stepping Stones, my story can be their story. That we can bring hope and love into this community through caring for, loving, and leading by example. There is nothing more powerful than the love of God, “his perfect love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18) and “For the whole law is fulfilled in one word, [even] in this: Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself” (Galatians 5:14). Our call is to “go out and tell the good news to everybody everywhere” (Mark 16:15). I believe it starts by loving people. Everything else will flow out of that.
I am excited to see how God will move in the hearts of young moms and how he will move in their communities. Will you consider being a part of that? We all have gifts from the lord, “Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly” (Romans 12:6). How will you use yours? His word also tells us that we are a body made of many parts, “For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ.” We cannot do his work if we try to do things separately. Mission Stepping Stones NEEDS partners like YOU! According to scripture and life experience I have learned that we can never do it on our own.
Support Mission Stepping Stones
Saturday, April 27th
7pm – 8:30pm
North Valley Baptist Church,
32715 Cherry Ave, Mission, BC
Erin Newton Smith will be sharing her hopes and experiences with the Youth Unlimited teen mom program she started in cooperation with the Scowlitz native band and the Sts’ailes Community School. She is seeking assistance to help meet the current needs of the program. There will be live jazz music, refreshments, guest speakers, slideshow and joys of the program’s successes shared.
During the evening Erin is hoping to raise financial support to enable her to work with the new mums, signup volunteers to provide mentorship and practical supports, driving, and childminding.
Ongoing donations of food and other household supplies for emergency hampers for the mums would be helpful. Teen parents often have no source of support other than their own parents. Erin hopes to provide some resources for new teen dads too in the form of sports equipment and food supplies for “daddy and me” breakfast.