During our weekly Bible study, a young man came in late. I was glad to see “Dillon,” but I didn’t have high hopes for his involvement since he looked like he had been using heroin. He got a sandwich and some snacks provided by one of our volunteers and settled in without disrupting the lesson. So far so good!
Dillon is about 20, and he’s been through the wringer. After a parent died, he lived with siblings as long as he could but ended up in CPS where he had a very troubled experience. Dillon turned to drugs and alcohol. He’s been in a couple of very serious relationships with women, but they have been destroyed by drugs. He tried to go to college twice, but drugs got in the way. He’s been in and out of jail.
While teaching through Luke 12 that day– actually in the midst of a very hard parable about what happens to misbehaving servants if they aren’t ready when the master come back–Dillon said loudly, “I love you, Terry!” Everyone froze, waiting to see what I would do. I thought and responded, “I love you, too, Dillon!” The room remained completely still. I added, “Do you want a hug?” People snickered. Dillon got up and came across the room and gave me a big bear hug. Then he sat down, and we finished the lesson together. He even shared some great insight on the value of coming clean with our sins now and not waiting for the time of final judgment. Amazing what can happen when we challenge street youth to do better. But the story doesn’t end there.
In a few days, Dillon came to me and shared that he wants to go to college again. I advised, “I believe in you. I really do. I know you can do this, but you are not able to continue using heroin and go to college. What can I do to help you?” He answered, “Motivate me. Kick me in the pants. That’s what I need.” I suggested that we pray together. Dillon had let me and our interns pray for him before, but this time I asked him to lead the prayer. And for the first time, he did. It was a very honest prayer of confession and requests. He began to do better in the coming days.
Dillon again came for advice. “What am I supposed to do? I’m afraid.” He began pouring out all the things that worried him. Volunteers on outreach and our interns encouraged him that he could overcome these things and that they were important. Again we prayed. Afterward, Dillon just sat on the curb and cried. He couldn’t seem to make up his mind about which life he wanted.
Each time we met Dillon for the next few weeks, we asked how he was doing. It was a mixed bag, sometimes staying away from heroin and sometimes not. We continued to remind him about the life he wants for himself: free from drugs, college educated, his own business, and his own house.
Yesterday, Dillon told me that he’s decided to go to a Christian rehab. It means leaving his girlfriend behind. It means no drug use. It means no drinking. It means daily immersion in hard work and prayer and worship. But he’s excited.
The best thing he told me is that he wants new socks and underwear before he goes. Volunteers will provide them along with much prayer. Dillon has rising expectations in his life. How many hands, I wonder, have helped get Dillon to where he is now? How many more hands will be needed to see him through to recovery? Praise God for all those hands providing food, books, Bibles, clothing, help, prayer and more. What amazing work God can do when we work together to help his wounded children to expect more of their lives– to no longer be deceived that they are throw-away youth.
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