After a few weeks, I do not think I am just the “new intern” anymore to the street youth. For most, there is a level of respect given toward me because I am Terry's intern. However, for many, that respect is no longer an act they put on. Rather, they have pushed that “inherited” respect to the background and have wiped the clean, which calls me to EARN respect for myself. I am finally getting to see the heart of some of the youth. Their true colors are showing. As I look at this situation, I assume hopefully that this is because there is a level of trust building.
Some of the guys are no longer chatting about how they have a crush on me (information revealed to me by a female client). Instead, I imagine some of them are talking about how I ticked them off or how I am a “goody-" or "rich-two-shoes.” They are no longer hiding drugs when I walk up or resisting the urge to light a cigarette, rather they go right along as their cravings and desires arise. In addition, they are no longer saying things just to catch me off guard or get a reaction; rather they seem to speak to me as they do to any other acquaintance.
The same goes for me concerning them: they are no longer just this peculiar group of street youth. Although I am still intrigued by their behavior, some individuals have angered me, frustrated me, and made me not want to speak with them. Often they make me smile though, and constantly they make me laugh when they try to prey on my naivety or simply say wild and funny things. The freedom they have taken to be themselves has given me a freedom to bust out the silliness of who I am as well as a boldness in my faith in the name of Jesus Christ. I find myself being less timid in terms of what they think about me (I thank you for your prayers concerning this!) and more confident in sharing not only my identity as silly, down-to-earth Jessi, but also identity in Jesus Christ. It doesn’t bother me anymore when someone just walks away in silence or when my questions, comments, and proclamations concerning Jesus get a laugh. I find myself laughing along with them at my awkwardness but also giddy in pride to be an ambassador of Jesus Christ- knowing that even if their response was negative, simply speaking the name and truth of Jesus planted seeds into their lives.
I find myself needing a daily reminder of my purpose for being here. When reviewing a day with the youth I often realize my lack of intentionality. Did I continue to build relationships? Do they trust me more? Did I get to know them more? These are all good things and tools to build with. However, the most important question remains…. Did I boldly speak the truth of the Gospel and offer the saving power of Christ to them through the truth that I spoke? This is the question I am challenging myself to answer with “yes” on a more consistent basis.
I ask for your encouragement and accountability in prayer for the upcoming weeks. Pray with me that I would “not grow weary in doing good” [Galatians 6:9], which is to preach the name of Jesus Christ. Also pray that I would, as Paul, “resolve to know nothing while I am with them [street youth] but Jesus Christ and Him crucified” [1 Corinthians 2:2].
Be blessed as you go about your weeks on this continuing journey of faith and devotion to Jesus Christ. Let not life get in the way of your first love, rather let that first love become your life and in that do everything you do to the glory of God! [My encouragement to you based on the song “Do Everything” by Steven Curtis Chapman!]