I recently got the most surprising and perhaps best question I have ever heard during a presentation! It came from one of about 25 4th and 5th graders at Tarrytown United Methodist Church.
I had already heard all the normal questions: “Where do you see street youth?” “Why do they live on the streets?” “How do you help them?” And I had heard some really intriguing questions: “Have they ever sicked their dogs on you? Has any of them ever captured and trained a coyote to be a pet?” (For the record, the answer to the last two are no.)
But here is the one question that really game me pause: “What’s in your pocket?” I was wearing sort-of-baggy jeans and had a lot in my pockets, so it wasn’t such a weird question. I thought about dismissing the question, but then I decided to go for it!
I pulled out one pocket: keys and phone. “The keys are for transportation. I take lots of food, water, clothing, and toiletries to the kids. It would be hard to do this job without my truck. I also have a can opener on my key-chain. I put it there so I can give it away when someone asks.”
“The phone is for safety. Every missionary needs safety. I have about 40 people who pray regularly for me, but the phone is in case I need to dial 911. I also use it to receive emergency phone calls from the kids. I don’t yet have enough money to have unlimited calling, so I keep it for emergencies.”
I pulled out the contents of the other pocket: a camera and a notebook and pen. “I use the camera to take pictures of people with smiles. When I give them food or clothing or a backpack, or one of the manna bags that you have made for me to give out, they smile. I like that so I take a picture. And I share the picture with volunteers so they feel involved in the ministry and want to keep giving!” “
My daughter made the custom notebook for me., and I use it to write down everyone’s names that I see. I write down their first names and the name of their dogs. They are just like everybody else, and they enjoy it when you can remember their names. I also use the list of names to pray for them. And I count the names to have some idea of how I am doing. From this notebook, I know that I see an average of 70 different people every week. I know that I see about 10 new faces every week. And I know that I have a reunion with someone I haven’t seen in a while about 8 times a week. I also have some other important things in this notebook. I have a list of phone numbers to give kids when they want to call for help. Help with alcohol problems. Help with drug problems. Legal problems. Numbers for housing programs. I make notes on lessons or sermons that I plan for the kids.”
I reached to my back pocket and pulled out a “duct tape” wallet. “I made this wallet with the kids. I showed them how to make duct tape wallets. They often lose their things (because they live outside and constantly move around). So if they lose their wallet, we can make a new one. And just like you and me, because they made it, they tend to keep it longer. They are really cool. I can come back sometime and help you each make wallets! I also have a duct tape card holder, phone cover, and money clip. You can make just about anything if you put your mind to it! And in my wallet I have cards to give out. It tells where the kids can email me, FaceBook me, MySpace me, or call me.”
So this is what’s in my pocket. It says a lot about SYM. It was missing one thing that day. I wasn’t carry the Word of God. However, I put that on in my heart and mind every day. So, what’s in YOUR pocket?