Married at 18 & 21: A redemptive journey of faith, hope and love
Thir.st // October 2, 2019, 5:39 pm
All photos courtesy of Heartbeat Project
Upon discovering an unexpected pregnancy, Mark, 35, and Sarah, 32, fought to keep their first child and married 14 years ago, with much support from their family and community. Against all odds, they are still married, sharing a common passion for ministry and marketplace expressions of media, design and music while being parents to Ines, 13 and Leon, 4. They are currently expecting their third child in February 2020.
This article is adapted from their video interview first published on the Heartbeat Project.
BREAKING THE NEWS
Sarah: I remember asking my friend to come with me – I didn’t want to be alone. When the result was positive, I had no idea what to think or do, and I showed it to my friend. The very first thing my friend said was: “Of course you’re going to keep this baby. I know you’re going to be a great mum.”
Because of what she said, it set me on a specific path. It got me thinking: “Okay, how am I going to do this?”
Another youth leader brought me to an obstetrician before I could bring myself to tell my parents. Seeing the baby on the scan for the first time, I think that’s when reality really hit me.
The doctor said to me: “Oh, such a cute baby!’ Who’s the father? Great! Get married and have the baby!” – that’s when I realised that this baby was mine to protect and love.
While Mark was supportive of my decision to keep the baby, the most difficult thing was to tell our parents. We knew we had to tell them, ask for forgiveness and say: “We can’t do this without you.”
Mark: When Sarah called me that day and told me the news, I felt like my world had just collapsed. I mean, I had just entered NS (National Service) – I was 21 and Sarah was 18. I didn’t really know how to process any of that information. I felt like I wanted to run away from the problem. I even contemplated suicide.
I remember asking Sarah: “When are we gonna see the doctor?” But she knew immediately what I was talking about and said: “We’re not going.”
Deep down in my heart I knew that abortion is not God’s way. But I was overwhelmed by the situation.
I didn’t know how to tell my parents… I didn’t have the guts to physically look them in the eye and tell them what had happened. So, I sent them an SMS.
I took the longest route home that day and turned off my phone. I didn’t want to see a reply. I’m sure my parents probably tried to call, but what I received when I finally turned on the phone was an SMS from my dad that read: “We are in shock, but we love you. Please come home.”
FINDING SUPPORT, GAINING STRENGTH
Mark: After much back and forth, we and our parents – both sets of parents – eventually came to the collective decision that life is sacred and that we wanted to do the right thing and keep this baby and get married.
Sarah: Our parents and friends, both from church and school… everyone was trying to set us up for success once we had unity in the decision. On the wedding day, the leaders that were above us and in charge of us were so supportive – and it felt like a true celebration of life and love. All they gave to us was the love of God, knowing that we were in a redemptive situation and God was starting a new story with our lives.
Over the years, we’ve been very appreciative of all the help that we received at various different stages of our lives. We’ve had different pastors counsel us, and even saw a counsellor early on because we were too immature to manage our conflicts.
If you’re in a similar situation, you have to seek the help that you need. Don’t be afraid to reach out for that help. Whether it’s your friends, your community, your church, your pastor or even your parents.
Mark: Taking ownership for your actions is being responsible. I think that’s the very least that you can do as a man, to decide to work this out together and support her.
My dad repeatedly reached out to me once I got married and was a bit more settled. He made it a point to meet me every week for lunch. Just man to man, heart to heart, we talked through anything that I wanted to ask him or needed to share with him. I think he realised that if he didn’t give me that input, it wasn’t going to come from anywhere else.
I just want to put it on record that we wouldn’t be here without our parents.
Sarah: Not everybody can marry or say they want to marry the person who made them pregnant. By the grace of God, looking back at these 14 years, I still think that Mark is definitely the best one for me – he’s my best friend.
Mark was very brave and very different because he took responsibility. From the beginning, he’s always been very involved with the children. The love and affection they have for him just shows what a great father he is to them.
STARTING A NEW LIFE
Mark and Sarah’s daughter, Ines, was born in May 2006. She is now almost as tall as her mother and has taken an interest in ballet – which happens to be one of the dreams Mark and Sarah had for her. She also wants to be a designer like her father.
Sarah: Before Ines was born, we took the time to write down our hopes and dreams for her. We prayed for Ines to be a graceful woman of God, a person who would excel in whatever she set her mind on.
Mark: It was pretty amazing. When we held her for the first time, I thought to myself: “You’re finally here.” Nothing really prepares you for that moment: This gift of life, the miracle that is a baby – a healthy baby. We chose the name ‘Ines’ which is a derivative of the word ‘Agnus’ in Latin. Agnus means ‘lamb’ – so Ines means ‘pure’.
In light of everything that happened prior to her birth, we felt that was the right name for her because we wanted to make sure that she started from a clean slate. Without fault or blemish. Today, she continues to be a positive influence on her friends, and we are so proud of her for deciding to be pure, even in the small things.
To Ines: You can be anything you want to be. As long as it’s a profession that helps other people. You were rescued and God saved your life. The things that you are called to do, and the destiny that He has given you are extremely powerful and amazing.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
Sarah: To any girls who feel like they don’t have their boyfriend or anyone else supporting them, the truth is you’re not alone. There are many other women who’ve gone through that. And all of them have come out saying that they’re glad they did it. They’re glad they have the experience of a new life who changes their own life.
It was hard to say that I’m going to lay my own life and put my life on hold for another life. But Ines is completely worth it.
It truly takes a village to raise a child. Find out how you can be part of such a loving community at LifeFest 2019, a Kingdom-wide family event happening on October 5, 2019, Saturday, 10am-8pm. This Children’s Day, let’s celebrate life together. For more details, visit Heartbeat Project’s Facebook page.
Listen to what these Pastors have to say! Join us this Children’s Day at our Kingdom-wide Family Day! The churches of Singapore are coming together to celebrate LIFE and that every child matters! There are 3 fun zones and a main stage for the whole family! I AM LOVED – Jump into our mini inflatable park and carnival games that is set up to engage the whole family! I AM GIFTED – Be part of our children’s creative workshops as we unlock the gift of art and poetry in the little ones! I AM BRAVE – Race alongside your children in the obstacle course and help them discover the Lion that’s inside them! Visit our main stage and learn how you can be part of a community of support to single-mums, children-at-risk, families-in-need and the special needs community. See you on Sat, 5th Oct @ St Andrews Cathedral, 10am-8pm. More at www.lifefest.heartbeatproject.sg
Posted by The Heartbeat Project on Monday, September 16, 2019
THINK + TALK
- Do you know anyone who has gone through abortion?
- How can we show support to them?
- What are some ways we can support young mothers in our midst?