Archive for January, 2011

January 27, 2011

Brief Encounters


The ministry recently lost a client. He was older than most… 35. However, we loved having him. We were able to pray and work with him multiple times in the last two or three weeks of his life here on earth. Dan could make a big impact on people in a short time. Here is what one volunteer shared after learning of Dan's death:

As I sit here and think about Dan and what his life must have been like I am comforted as I reflect on the one, yet powerful, time I spent with Dan.   

I was helping Terry with a Cold Weather Response night.  As I drove up to location where we were distributing items for the cold weather, I noticed I was the only other volunteer besides Terry.  I was a little unsure of myself being a new volunteer to SYM.  As I came around the corner I remember saying to God, "I am not sure how I can help or make a difference, but use me to Your glory."  As I got out of the car I knew I had to step up to the plate and get involved.  I couldn't stand by and be quiet and hide behind a more experienced volunteer.  Terry had his hands full.  

Dan quietly appeared and caught my attention.  I became curious as to what this guy was all about….what was his story?  (He had a cute dog too.)   Before I spoke to him, I became engrossed in a conversation he was having with another street-dependent youth.  He was talking about Jesus!  I learned that this was the second night Dan had been back on the streets after being incarcerated for two months.  He was clean and sober.  Despite all the reasons to be bitter and reject Jes, Dan, with his sweet spirit, was trying to convince this guy that there was a God and heaven and why he knew it to be so.  Dan knew he was loved by Jesus.

I found an opportunity to engage in a one-on-one conversation with Dan.  I wanted to know more about him.  He had dreams, hope and plans.  He showed me pictures of his kids, told me their names, what they were like. He beamed as he talked about each one of them individually while looking at their photos.  His plan was to go to CPS the next day to try to locate his children and see them.

  

Dan wanted to stay sober.  He told me he wanted to create more time between his last drug usage and days sober.  He told me how he had met someone while in jail that may be able to help him get into a 28-day recovery program.  I encouraged him to pursue this as I had been in recovery.  We talked with Terry about AA and NA.  I went home that night and printed out a schedule of meetings for him which is still in my car hoping for a chance to run into him again.

Dan carried a worn Bible in his backpack.  I caught a glimpse of it as I was helping him find a little space to put it in his over-packed backpack.  

As I drove home that evening, it became very apparent to me why I was there.  God carefully orchestrated this brief encounter for ME.  He knew Dan’s days on earth were numbered, but he used Dan to minister to me…as I have been searching God’s will in my life.  The impression I made on Dan was dim, even forgetful.  This experience for me, however, will forever be ingrained in my soul.  You see, it is because of Dan that I realized that this often invisible population are God’s people.  Jesus lived among the poor and homeless.  He, too, was poor and homeless.  I realized that we may come from all walks of life and appear very different, but we are all the same….we are all children of God.  I am blessed in many ways, but Dan helped give my life perspective.  We ARE ALL God’s children and for once in my life the material things don’t matter.  Dan may have had very little and mountains to climb, but he was far richer than I am.  

I regret I never saw Dan again.  He never knew the impact he had on me.  You see, Dan had dreams, hope and GOD and shared his wealth with me!!!  Thank you, Dan.  I am better today because of YOU.  Rest in peace, my sweet friend.

"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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January 22, 2011

You Never Know


While out on Cold Weather Response I encountered someone different. He was well dressed and clean-shaven, probably about 22 or so, and wearing a thick heavy coat to protect himself from the cutting wind that was chilling me to the bone.  He came up and just stood near the truck. He watched expectantly but stood frozen. I did my standard greeting designed not to put off anyone in need but shy or reluctant: "I've got hats, coats, sweaters, blankets, snacks and would love to share them if it would help." He said, "No… I don't need anything." But he continued to stand right there. I served others and just waited to see what would happen next.

I asked him again, "Would you at least like a cup of hot chocolate?" He said, "OK." Then he proceeded to tell me his story…

"I have been out here taking advantage of street kids for two years. And I've seen you all that time. I never take from you because I'm a student and don't need it." He paused and tears welled up in his eyes. He fought them back and continued.

"I've been addicted to heroin all that time. And I've taken advantage of these kids. I would have them steal text books that I could sell at the local bookstore. I'd split the money with them. They couldn't do it without me, and I needed the money for my habit." He paused again.

"I'm clean now for several months and I've found Jesus Christ. I'm so different now, and I want to somehow make amends. Is there some way I could help you to help them?"

Naturally I offered that he can volunteer at any of our events: Monday Prayer time 11-12, Tuesday Bible study 2-4pm, Wednesday fellowship night 4:45-7:30, and Friday outreach 4-6pm.

"I want to tell them where I was with all that hurt but that I'm free from all that now. I want them to know I'm sorry and that they can get free, too."

You never know who you impact in your daily life. I never served this young man or talked with him. But the love shared between the ministry and street kids clearly effected him. And the love that Jesus has for him, accepted the way he has accepted it, has healed him. May we and everyone the ministry serves say the same and experience the same gratitude in our own time. Amen.

"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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January 14, 2011

Mini Mission Trip Surprises Many


Street Youth Ministry offers Austinites (and visitors) a mini mission trip every Friday afternoon from 4 to 6pm. During that time, volunteers will walk the streets of Austin (12 blocks) and learn many things they probably never suspected about Austin and street-dependent young people who are living on the street or traveling the country.

Volunteers don't require any special training in advance, and they receive on-the-job training from missionary, Terry Cole. Often newcomers will be teaming with veteran volunteers as well. The ministry attracts volunteers of all ages, although it is especially wonderful to see high school and college age youth serving the street-dependent youth, approximatively the same age and often sharing many interest, too.

Most mission trippers will encounter 15 to 20 street youth during the two hour mission trip. They will have a chance to offer them food, toiletries, fresh socks, and other donated items. And they learn how to engage in conversation.

The missionary answers questions during the trip while the volunteers walk the street. The missionary also debriefs all participants and offers follow-up help for those who need some time to process what they saw and learned. Almost all participants report that they are glad they went on the trip and many make return visits regularly.

Here is how one young mission trip participant recently described some of his thoughts on the trip:

Q: What did you like?

A: I liked that almost all of the street youth were so open and friendly.
A: I like knowing that I'm helping out a little bit.
A: I like that the street youth were interested in me and asked me some questions.

Q: What did you dislike?

A: One guy was hostile and drinking. I didn't like that, and it rattled me a little. Your training and being nearby helped, though.

 

Q: What surprised you?

A: I expected more hostility. I was surprised we only encountered one guy who was mad out of all the people we saw.
A: I guess I didn't realize the street youth were here before today. I buy all my clothes on the Drag and I never noticed them before–they were invisible to me. I'll be looking next time I'm down here.

"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
Who We Serve   What We Do   Get Involved  Support Us   News  Publications  Ministry Needs   Speaking   Service Projects   Sign-up


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I'm a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Need a gift? Check out her shops: MotsDots and NotSoDotty

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