Archive for November, 2011

November 23, 2011

I don’t have to go to hell?


Jessi, our fall intern, shares this blog. She just spent a hectic week soaking up a lot of training away from the ministry (integration of community health and evangelism), but this incident with a client kept circulating in her mind during her stay. 

We are still praying for our spring interns to apply. Information and application process are described at internship.StreetYouthMinistry.org. We are happy to connect you with past interns if you want to talk about that it will be like!

A couple weeks ago, we were having a conversation with the street youth concerning salvation by grace. We were discussing that you can still go to heaven no matter what you have done and that it essentially does not matter whether or not you follow the “rules.” (What does matter is a personal and saving relationship with Jesus.) After discussing for a little while, a youth from the back of the room solemnly spoke up, “You mean I don't have to go to hell?”

  

How such a simple statement can tell so much not only about the youth but also about the church she encountered! It seems to have spent way too much time preaching condemnation. I feel like the impression many nonbelievers have about Christianity relates to “fire and brimstone.” Not only that, but how many times have you heard nonbelievers deny a call to salvation because they do not want to or do not think they have the ability to follow all of the rules we put forth? I am not saying that the church should eliminate the sermon on judgment nor should congregations stop seeking holiness. I am saying is that the church (that means not only the pastors and church staff but also you and I!) need not forget the reason God brings judgment and that is to eradicate anything that hinders love.

 

The tactic of scaring and condemning people rather than loving people to Jesus has played a huge role in the lives of the street youth. A great number of street youth grew up in church, yet today will not even set foot in a church building. I have heard multiple times from multiple youth something along the lines of, “Oh I cannot come to your bible study because it is in the church and God will strike me down” or “the church will be struck down on behalf of my sin.” In the youth’s times of great brokenness and of most desperate need, the church's message seems to be that they are not good enough–that they have gone too far and done too much. I believe many of the youth probably spent some time in their pasts trying to live up to exceedingly high standards of "church,"and through each failure they began to condemn themselves even more than the church ever had. In their failures they have deemed themselves unworthy of the treasures of heaven as well as the treasures of this earth: health, prosperity, stability, strong relationships, self-respect, purpose, etc.

 

In spite of this, let us no longer look at the street youth and preach to them in accordance with the way that the world sees them. Rather, let us see them as our heavenly Father sees them. Let us stop defining them by their weaknesses and rather by the inherent strengths and purposes that God has destined in them.  Despite what they have done (and do) and despite that they may not follow all the rules, God has called them his own, he has called them his people, he has called them his beloved. Let us also look upon them with these same eyes of love, and let us never cease to tell them of our love and acceptance of them and the even deeper love and acceptance of their Father.

"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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Become a fan on Facebook!
Mobile? No problem: m.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
I'm a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: tungle.me/terrycole

Follow SYM: Facebook LinkedIn Blog RSS Twitter Plaxo Etsy Etsy Blogger Google Buzz Tungle.me YouTube Google Plus

Twitter Latest tweet: Friends of SYM will be offering some great food at 11:15am on Thanksgiving Day (Thursday) in the parking lot of… http://t.co/EoxYUJh3

  Get this email app!  

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November 8, 2011

A Street Youth Psalm of Lament


We finished the book of Luke in October in our weekly Bible study attended by street youth on Tuesdays. We decided to do some Old Testament work until we are ready to read the Christmas story later in December. We'll start a new Gospel book (probably John) in January.

Today we covered Psalm 88 and Psalm 107. We discussed the various types of Psalms and how these two represent the  biggest types: lament and thanksgiving. 

We read Psalm 88. Did you know there apparently were street youth 3000 years ago? Read this from Psalm 88:15 and tell me there weren't:

From my youth I have suffered and been close to death; 
   I have borne your terrors and am in despair. 

We then studied the four parts to a lament: a call for God to listen, presentation of the situation ("the complaint"), asking God to fix it ("the plea"), and then anticipating that God is already at work and thanking Him for it. We then wrote our own. Here is the combined lament from today's group:

God! GOD! I want you to listen!

 

Why are you so far away?
Why don't you hear my prayers?
Why are so many bad things happening?
Why do I want things I can't have?

 

God, show me that you are near… that you hear.
Help me today… even if I need it again tomorrow.

 

I will wait…

We finished by reading Psalm 107. It gives "thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever" (Ps 107:1). It continues with several stories of restoration. Two jumped out at the group today as applying to street youth today:

Some sat in darkness, in utter darkness, 
   prisoners suffering in iron chains, 
because they rebelled against God’s commands 
   and despised the plans of the Most High. 
So he subjected them to bitter labor; 
   they stumbled, and there was no one to help. 
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, 
   and he saved them from their distress. 
He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, 
   and broke away their chains.  (Ps 107:10-14)

 Some became fools through their rebellious ways 
   and suffered affliction because of their iniquities. 
They loathed all food 
   and drew near the gates of death. 
Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, 
   and he saved them from their distress. 
He sent out his word and healed them; 
   he rescued them from the grave.  (Ps 107:17-20)

Throughout this lament study, we noticed that the Psalmists spend a lot of time and words describing their circumstances. At first this seemed puzzling and self-centered. But we discovered as we talked about it, that by sharing it all with God and giving words to all our problems, we are better able to let go of our fears and anxieties and issues. We are made more ready for whatever solutions are coming our way.

"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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I'm a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: tungle.me/terrycole

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November 2, 2011

How we view volunteers and donors


We involve hundreds of volunteers and in-kind donors at Street Youth Ministry. It's in our DNA today as a ministry, although we didn't know how important it would become when we began in 2008. We knew we needed financial donors back them, but we had no idea how much we needed volunteers and in-kind donors, too.

It was a pastor guiding me who first suggested the idea: "Terry, you need find a way to involve volunteers." I couldn't imagine it, but he challenged me. So our first sandwich ministry was born. Since then, volunteers have made 25 sandwiches and now 50 sandwiches a week. That's about 4500 sandwiches in the last two and a half years!

And we have grown more than that. We have food providers, dog and pet helpers, proof-readers and administration helpers. These people keep the ministry supplied and working. In-kind donations total thousands of dollars per month and hundreds of hours per month.

And we have volunteers who come to build relationships. They help us with hospitality, driving, do laundry for our clients, and our very popular mini-mission trip on the street. Each hands-on volunteers is challenged to build a relationship with our clients, showing love and compassion to someone who doesn't expect it!

In-kind donors work at their jobs for an hour or two to provide the average in-kind donation. It's their mission. We  think of you as standing beside us on the mission field with the street youth. 

Some donors work a couple hours per week for the financial gifts they give so that we can be present. We invite you into ministry and encourage you in your work.

It's important. It matters. It makes a difference. It pleases God. Together we get the chance to love on the street youth of Austin, God's beautiful creations, helping to solidify the Kingdom of God in it's not-yet and still-becoming form. God would do it without us, but we have the great honor to be here. 

Volunteers, financial donors and in-kind donors: Thank you for all that you do!

"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


Become a fan on Facebook!
Mobile? No problem: m.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
I'm a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: tungle.me/terrycole

Follow SYM: Facebook LinkedIn Blog RSS Twitter Plaxo Etsy Etsy Blogger Google Buzz Tungle.me YouTube Google Plus