Archive for April, 2012

April 24, 2012

What is Truly Appreciated?


 

A volunteer recently described working one on one with a client. It’s an experimental service we call 1to1. With sufficient church partners, volunteers and tools in place, we would like to scale up 1to1 eventually. The volunteer bought lunch for a client. The volunteer invested time with the client. The volunteer purchased a weekly bus pass for the client so they could get their ID and go to job interviews.

 

The volunteer let me know that they received a thank you message. It said, “Thank you for the lunch and bus pass. They were nice. But the best thing was that you listened to me as a person for an hour. Thank you for that gift. I treasure it.”

 

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“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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April 22, 2012

Reactions to Going to Church


“I haven’t been to church since I was five.”

 

During Holy Week, I rent a bus and take street youth clients to a church that has a noonday meditation followed by a fellowship lunch. On the way back, I asked the street youth to tell me about their experience. Here are some of there answers to ponder:

  • I really liked that “only one person looked at me like I was a piece of sh**.” That means everyone else looked at me like I was a human being!
  • I am surprised that I went to church. I am 23 years old and I haven’t been to church since I was five. I didn’t melt. The church didn’t burn. And the Bibles didn’t burst into flames. Who knew?
  • So many people came and thanked me for coming. I am really puzzled by that. [We talked about that some more as a group. The group decided it could be one of two things. First, it might be because the people are so surprised to see such broken, poor and yucky people coming to church. Second, it might be that the people truly sense that they are missing something or some representation from people that the street youth satisfy.]
  • I liked the music. I didn’t’ think I would. [This was very traditional Hymns… high churchy.]
  • I liked the message. I liked that she talked about real people… people who get SSI, food stamps, and other stuff. It made me feel a part of it.
  • I loved the food. It’s so nice to have regular food that regular people eat. Not homeless food. And not just for us. It’s their regular meal.
  • I liked the old people. It’s funny, but I respect them and they help me be a better person when I’m around them. If I were around people my age, we’d probably be talking about pot or the next party. But old people have so much wisdom and experience. I just want to listen to them.

If you would like to be involved in our ministry, please contact me:  terry@StreetYouthMinistry.org

“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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April 17, 2012

Opportunities You Don’t See Coming


“What do you want God to do for you?”

 

I witnessed a thief at work one day on the drag. It all happened so far, I could do anything about it. The victim was probably a UT student. The thief appeared to be a high school student or maybe another UT student. No street youth were involved. I told the victim what I saw but never saw him again. I prayed for what to do after that. If I would see the victim, I would let him know I could testify. If I would see the thief, I would let him know I saw him.

 

The day came two weeks later. The thief was hovering around ministry. I got him off to the side and said, “I know what you did the other day. I saw you.” He denied. I simply said, “We can’t talk about it if you’re going to lie to me.” He asked, “What did you see?” I said, “I know and you know. Or maybe you do that all the time and you’re not sure which time I saw? You know it did hurt the guy. It mattered to him.” 

 

“Calvin” got to know me that afternoon. I told him, “You may have gotten away with it legally… I guess we’ll see. But you don’t get away with it spiritually. You have to make yourself right with God on it. And God may require you to make yourself right with the guy you stole from.” Calvin said he knew and would. He walked away.

 

Today I saw Calvin again. I asked him how he was doing. He said, “Better.” I asked if he was continuing to do that bad thing. He said, “No,” but looked down. As I was about to walk away to minister to someone, he grabbed my sleeve and asked, “Would you pray for me right now… right here?” I asked, “What do you want God to do for you?” “Keep me away from the street. Away from women and sex. Away from drugs. Away from alcohol.” We prayed together. Calvin hung his head in shame as I asked Jesus to free him from the bonds that hold him. 

 

I gotta say that I never expected today’s encounter. Never. What a wonderful surprise and opportunity. 

 

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“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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Become a fan on Facebook!
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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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April 12, 2012

Who’s Welcome?


God is ready when they are.

 

I stopped by a youth who struggles with addiction. He was playing a board game with someone else and his face looked pretty clear. I was cheered by both.

 

I asked, “Would you be interested in going to ‘Going Deeper Worship’ tonight?” This is a worship service that has been opened up by a partner church to street youth who seek new relationships with people not from the streets, who want to experience something new in church, and who are ready in some way to take a step of trying out church again. 

 

He looked up at me and said, “Why do you keep asking me when you know what I do.” He meant his addiction. I responded, “There ought to be an inscription above every church in the world that says ‘There is nothing you can do to make yourself excluded by the Master of this house.”

 

He grinned. He said, “I’m not ready today but I’m working on it.”

 

 

“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

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April 10, 2012

Why They Fight


In the perfect storm, sometimes violence errupts.

 

I broke up a significant fight on the street. One street youth bashed another’s head into a wall. It was fairly one sided. What happened?

 

Just an hour before, I had counseled the first youth as he sat atop a newspaper vending machine. The sub-text of our conversation is that he is needing to adapt to the fact that things are going as planned. Unspoken was that he has lost many things recently: a significant girlfriend, a stable place to live, access to some help specifically for younger people because he has now turned 24. Even deeper and less obvious: recent deaths of friends. The obvious is that he is anxious and aggravated.

 

The other participant I had visited with just moments before the fight. He was slightly drunk… probably about four beers worth. He was harassing young college women as they walked by. I discussed why he was objectifying them. It was all about them not seeing him as sexy and attractive. Underneath that was the loss of his home town–smaller, where he was attractive and well known and liked. And below that was how he feels alone and unwanted.

 

It was a perfect storm. One of them is accused of breaking the street code. You can do almost anything on the street to survive, but there are some things you cannot do and that’s “the code.” They have honor. And when someone breaks that code, justice is dished out–sometimes eagerly and harshly.

 

I appreciate self-regulation and positive peer pressure. However, I do not favor violence–even when it seems to be the only language someone understands. So I am constantly talking to the street youth about the need to regulate without violence.

 

You might think that someone who’s lost much and has little would be more understanding. And I think they want to be. However, so much has been done to them that they can’t wait to unload it. They need a healthy outlet to let go of all the hurt that has been done to them in the past and even in the present. (Perhaps this is why so many will involve themselves in thrill seeking activities.) But often they only have a unhealthy mechanism. I believe that enforcing rules on others through bullying, drama, violence and even gang-like activity is one of those unhealthy coping mechanisms.

 

It’s similar to hazing in legacy organizations. People in those organizations are prone to think, “Hazing was done to me as a freshman, and by golly it’s my time now! I’m a senior and I’m going to dish it out to the newbies for all the hurt, humiliation and pain I went through.” It can be much the same mentality on the street. Good people just get swept along in all the emotion and drama.

 

It takes courage to stop passing on this behavior. I pray for courage. I pray for better ways of processing hurt. I pray for more “golden rule” behavior. And I even dare to pray for God’s Kingdom to come to the street so that people treat one another with love and respect, even in times of conflict.

 

You can help with our ministry.  Volunteer opportunities.

 

 

“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

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April 7, 2012

Afraid to Come Home


He believes in God. He has read the Bible. He comes to our events from time to time, but he never stays. But one day he came to me in pain wanting help.

 

Tommy is a young man, and typical of many we work with. He’s been in foster care off and on from his early teens. He has family but they aren’t great for one another. He’s done just about everything: drugs, theft, sex, and more.

 

Tommy is addicted to drugs. He has a drug of choice, and he has managed to find enough strength to stay away from it. But he has substituted other drugs in it’s place. He goes for a while without drugs and  he has other times when he uses a lot. On the day he came to me, he was ready to give up drugs. He was hurting a lot. And he was frightened. I took him in a back room to talk.

 

He told me he wanted God to heal him… to take away his addiction. I told him he needed to confess what he has done, so that Jesus can take it away. He began but stopped. “I can’t. I can’t talk to Jesus. I talk with God but I can’t talk with Jesus.” I asked him why. “I know God is real and understand what God wants. But I’ve tried to talk with Jesus and I just don’t feel him.”

 

Tommy listed all his sins to me. And he said, “God is mad at me. He’s done all these things to me. And I just want to know why. I just want to understand. Why does it all happen this way?”

 

I explained that God loves him. And that Jesus is the way to the Father. That he need only confess his sins to Jesus. Jesus has already done all the work on the cross to take away his sins and restore Tommy. God has always loved him and always will, but God does expect Tommy to have a relationship with Jesus to be restored.

 

Tommy couldn’t do it. I pressed him very hard to find out why. Tommy cried and finally said, “I’m afraid. I don’t want punishment. I know He’s going to break my legs like a lost sheep so I won’t wander off anymore. I don’t want him to hurt me.” I was shocked but I recognized the truth of the moment.

 

How misled Tommy is. God loves Tommy so much, but Tommy is unable to cry out to Jesus for his help. Tommy remains too prideful, too independent, and too hurt yet to hear the Gospel news. Jesus will not break his legs, but rather will hoist him on his shoulders and carry him back to the flocks. He will celebrate Tommy’s homecoming.

 

We will continue to shamelessly offer the Gospel to Tommy. And we will continue to relentlessly ask Jesus to be near Tommy. The father loves Tommy so much and will provides great and wonderful things for him when Tommy is ready. All the work is done already by Jesus on the cross. The banquet table–a table set in part by supporters of SYM who give, pray and love street-dependent young people… the table is ready. Many will be invited. And we will invite the poor, sick and lame. We will go out and find the outcast and invisible among us and continue to invite them in. There is room for all because of Jesus! Will Tommy come? Only time can tell. 

 

“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

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April 2, 2012

Bringing the Kingdom of God


The Kingdom of God broke through–if only for a moment.

 

We have been studying parables for 10 weeks in our Tuesday Bible study with street youth. We have taught familiar stories to many. And therein lies the danger: the street youth reduce the stories to moral stories. Jesus didn’t mean them that way. He meant us to better understand what it is like when people follow God’s rules, that is, when we encounter the Kingdom of God.

 

As we studied the parable of the banquet, I used the example of people being invited to our Bible studies. We invite people we’ve known for years. And sometimes they resist. But we also invite people who cause trouble. And we invite people we’ve never met who seem to be passing through. We will teach and we will offer hospitality. It’s up to the invited who comes. It was an obvious similarity to the passage, but as I taught it, an idea came to me.

 

I backed up and told the teaching of Jesus right before: Jesus told people not to take the best position at a banquet. They should take poor positions so the host can move up the honored ones. They should avoid the best spots lest they be embarrassed by the host asking them to move aside for someone else more deserving of the honor. I decided to ask if they wanted to do this at our banquets on Tuesday. They did!

 

So the next week, I reminded them of the story while we were still outside. I told them to go upstairs and line up at the table like usual. When everyone gets there, we pray a blessing for those who consume the food, that it will build up their bodies, refresh their minds, and heal their hearts. But afterwards, I asked who had a hard week. A couple of people sheepishly raised hands. I asked if I could move them to the heat of the line. And I pointed out that there is a young man who always goes last every week. “Could I move him up?” They agreed. He admitted, “I am very hungry this week.” Another man had twisted his ankle that week. The group moved him up. I was so overjoyed that they got the lesson! And I am quite certain that the Kingdom of God broke through, if only for a moment, around that table!

 

And we invite you to be part. You can set our banquet table any week by signing up here. Or you can sign-up to be a helper and come witness our motley crew at work. 

Share your stories of the blessing of being moved to a place of honor.