Blessings and Battle of “The Stuff”–By Jordan Treuter, March 2012

Terry Cole and his troop of nine volunteers turn west at the corner of 24th and

Guadalupe, just next to a Wells Fargo. They approach a man sitting alone below a

paint-soaked brick wall, a popular urban mural that helps keep Austin Weird. 


“All right, circle around. Show him what you have,” says Terry, in reference to the

stuff: Bibles, boots, hygiene products, sandwiches, socks, he provides street-dependent

youth through his ministry, Street Youth Ministry.


Street Youth Ministry is a program that uses sustenance and clothing as an avenue

of outreach to teach street dependents ages 18-25 about the love of Christ. Terry, a

commissioned missionary of Covenant Presbyterian Church, focuses his work in the

12 blocks west of The University of Texas campus.


After Angelo chooses things that will help him from the bags, two volunteers sit around Angelo, asking, “How can we pray with you?” He shares some needs and they pray on the street corner.


“I pray for healing for Angelo. That You can lead him to overcome his addiction. I ask

for his salvation and that he can come to know You,” prays Jon.


Terry writes Angelo’s name in a little black moleskin — a prayer book for his clients.


Much work goes into getting Terry and his volunteers to this point, most of

which is up to his logistical prowess, networking and persistence. He doesn’t do this on the side of some nine to five job he has. This is his job. And he works more hours per week now than he did when he worked at AMD (a high tech computer chip company) for nearly 25 years.


At times, Terry sees “the stuff” as a potential hindrance to his mission of knowing, loving and serving the street youth so they may come to know Christ. He knows that the “stuff” he has may draw attention away from the reason he is giving it away. The stuff can force him to be known as “the cool guy,” he says.


“I never want the stuff to become bigger than the message,” he says. “It’s a constant challenge to give things away in such a way that it points constantly to Jesus. The line is this: We’re not Wal-Mart. We aren’t going shopping because of a felt need. We receive things all the time from our supporters, but we don’t tell them exactly what to buy or give. We leave room for God to work in the process. Once we have supplies, we invite the youth to take it if it helps. They are not grabby or greedy by nature. And if we don’t have what they believe would help, then we invite the street youth into a prayer. We write the need in our prayer book. And we ask the client and our supporters to be on the lookout for a way to let it happen. So often, we do follow up in a day or two and the street youths and they have found what they needed or we go to pick up donations, and find the item. I was once asked for a flat iron by a young girl. I laughed inside and thought, What are the chances of that? But when I went to pick up donations that very day, I found the appliance! We gave it to her the next day, explaining that some Christian supporter had provided it so we could give it to her.


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