Usually I write about one story. But tonight my head is so full of young people that I just can’t seem to pick one. So I’m going to share some scattered glimpses into ministry over the last couple of days. Perhaps this will give some insight to those of you who sometimes ask what a typical day looks like.
All God’s Treasures
God has created so many wonderful treasures. Ants and bees, giant live oak trees, the grand canyon, gemstones, the stars in the skies. But I get to meet very special creations in the form of street youth every day. They are so wonderful to know and to care for. I am so blessed that they share a bit of their lives with me:
“Martha” came to Bible study. She hadn’t been there before. She had a million questions, but was polite enough to tell me I didn’t need to answer them all. I met her after the study to see if she had more questions. She didn’t. We just say talking. She shared that she could have gone to college, but made other choices instead. Now she things those choices might have been the wrong ones but knows she has to live with the choices. Drugs effected her choice. She’s free of drugs today. She writes poetry. Perhaps one day I will convince her to share her poetry and line drawings with my readers. But not today. I listened to page after page of her poetry. It is about the authentic human experience of love, pain, confusion. Very thought provoking stuff.
I caught up with “James” on the street. He’s 68 days sober. He gave up drugs and alcohol. He’s a Christian brother. He has a job now. And he’s looking for stable housing; right now he has to live on the couch of friends. And that’s bad because the friends are not sober. He told me how he had ministered recently to someone who was also not sober. That person listened and came back to thank him about 14 days later. James ministered by bravely proclaiming that there was a heaven and a hell, a God of the Universe, and a way to be right with God. And it profoundly mattered to the drunk enough to change his life. Way to go, James!
I ministered to “Adam” today. Adam is lonely. He wants a girlfriend, but he has decided that sex without emotion and connection isn’t good. So he’s no longer looking for a quick fix to his physical needs. He’s looking for someone to spend time with. But he’s never had that. He was not cared for as a child by his mother, a pill popper. He has much to overcome. The streets are hard for him. He’s thinking of turning to his grandmother for help.
I ministered to a scared young man today. “Jack” has changed in the last weeks. He doesn’t look me in the eye. He seems smaller to me; sunken in on himself. He’s using something. He’s afraid and disappointed. The life he planned just a few months back has come crashing around his ears, and he doesn’t yet know if it’s OK or not. He’s not ready to talk about it. He says everything is OK; his face says it isn’t. Where is the happy and confident young man I spoke with a few months ago?
I talked with a young lady today. Apparently I met “Angie” a couple of years ago, but I was not able to remember her name or face. I sat with her while she puked because of a bad hangover. I walked with Angie to get water and some aspirin. I don’t know her story yet, but she seems to polite and humble. She was so easy to be around, even when she felt terrible.
I talked with a young man, “Frank” today who used to be in a gang. He ended up convicted of some terrible things. Frank’s a tough guy–no doubt about it–but he has grown up a lot. He stays out of trouble now. He has a big heart and seems to really want to recover from years of street life. He comes to Bible study and puts quite a lot into participation. Now something has literally gone wrong with his heart. The doctors are looking into it. I asked if he was scared and he simply replied, “Hell yes.” He’s never said he was scared to me before. I listened and walked with him. We prayed together.
I talked with a young man “Bill,” who is no longer on the streets! He supports his wife and child. Bill is worried about his younger brother who is still on the street and still uses drugs. He brother got him in trouble by coming into the retail store where he works and stealing something. Now Bill faces losing his job. It just doesn’t seem fare. Bill is struggling with boundaries of maintaining distance, loving his brother, and looking out after his own family.
I pray for each of these young people. They are each beautiful treasures. I get to meet 60 or 70 of them every week. I try to love them just the way they are. I pray that many will come to know Jesus personally–that is why Jesus came! And through God’s redemptive and healing grace, these youth can be fully restored and guided into a fulfilling life shaped just for them! Amen.