Archive for January, 2013

January 19, 2013

Excerpt from Ministry on the Fringes by Kevin Portman


Kevin Portman, a graduate student at Duke University’s Divinity school, recently wrote a paper about homeless youth that he encountered near UT while studying as an undergrad.  Portman interviewed Terry about SYM’s role in caring for these young people.

 

In describing Austin’s street youth, Portman writes, “(Cole) relates with about 100 self-named ‘drag rats,’…the term ‘rat’ conjures up an image of disgust, mistrust and aversion.  Apparently the street youth have a clear understanding about how they are perceived.” He goes on to describe the youths’ struggle to survive. They take a little from a lot of people to avoid ‘over-asking’ or ‘blowing up a relationship,’ a term the youths use when they have taken too much, thus ending the relationship.

 

Regarding the youths’ spiritual welfare, Portman writes, “A fascinating insight into the cognitive and spiritual state of these youth can be gained through a Bible study exercise that Cole employs….asking (the youth) to go around the room and take turns sharing a story they know from the Bible….commonly 40 or so stories are shared….however the stories are ‘twisted’ in some way. They each had the framework of the story, but either the specifics or interpretation was leading them to have somehow previously heard a lie…How can someone make an informed decision to follow Christ or recognize the grace of God working in him or her while holding these untruths?”

 

Portman describes SYM this way: “Cole regards (street youth) as worthy in a way foreign to most people…his inclusive ministry represents the Christian ideal that affirming the divine imprint of God in each human being compels us to love as an extension of God’s love at work in us.”

 

Ultimately, Portman writes, “I have done a horrible thing to myself. After interviewing Terry Cole, I have put myself on the unavoidable path toward caring and praying for this ministry. Whereas these ‘drag rats’ were once off my radar, now hearing the truth of God’s powerful work in this demographic has opened my eyes to a desire of God – to transform and redeem the lives of these young people. Further, I can no longer turn away from this problem now that I finally understand it and know how redemption is being facilitated through Street Youth Ministry.”

 

 

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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January 10, 2013

A Client’s Dilemma


SYM at work:

 

We met a new client. It was cold and he was wearing shorts and looking a little bit ashen from the cold. He had pants and a coat in his backpack. He looked healthy and strong. He asked to borrow my phone and I let him, admonishing him (as I do all clients) that it’s not for drug calls.

 

He wanted privacy. The phone didn’t work right at first and frustrated him. And then his call didn’t get answered. But eventually he was on the phone, pacing and the discussion seemed agitated.

 

I served others while he talked on the phone. Eventually I went over when he was done. I simply said, “Tough call?” He said, “Yes. My parents don’t get me.” I asked, “New to the street?” He said, “Yes. I’m supposed to be in a rehab, but I’m not going back to that place. They are mean. I’ll go to another one, but not back to that place. My parents just won’t hear me, though.” I replied, “The rehab won’t work if you don’t want to be there, anyway. But keep the lines of communication open with your parents.”

 

I considered my next move. He was so agitated that I decided to ask, “Would you like a hug?” It was a risky move with a new 6’4″ client. Without hesitation, he said, “Yes” and hugged me. He began to fight back tears from the stress and hurt. I just hugged him back until he was ready.

 

He wiped away the tears and then he began to tell me his story. From college student to drug user to caught addict. Forced rehab. He said, “I want to stay out here. Surely if my parents seem me choose to be homeless rather than rehab, they’ll understand.” I stopped him, “Do nothing to make them do anything. Do things for yourself. Do things that are right for you and forget trying to manipulate or control them.” He asked surprised, “Are you a drug counsellor?” I said, “No, but I’ve been taught by a lot of street youth like you. And I study a bit.”

 

I asked, “Is faith a resource for you?” He said, “Yes. I’ve been working 12 steps. I’m 60 days sober. I’m a Christian.” So I asked if we could pray together. He did the natural thing and said, “Sure. You can pray for me.” I held out hands and said, “No. I mean pray together. What are you thankful for?” He began to answer. “Do you have sins you’d like to confess?” He did. “What do you want God to do for you?” He wanted provision. He wanted a job. He wanted his parents and brother to understand him. He wanted reunion.

 

After praying, we made a safety plan. We discussed how there are people right here on this block who would be happy to help him spoil his sobriety record this very night. He said he was strong and could resist. We discussed how he needs to find a computer he can use to communicate with family and brother and friends so he can survive the next few days. He knew a way.

 

Then I asked him to soften a bit. “You know how you’re going to get by in the next few days. I want you to be willing to wake up tomorrow and do whatever is right for you. If it’s going back to rehab, then swallow your pride and simply go. If it’s continuing the fight for a new rehab, then do your research and make your case. If it’s getting a job, then contact the people who have a copy of your ID so you can get the audit number and order your ID so you can work. But whatever you do tomorrow, do it for you. Stay focused and get help. And keep your faith strong. It may not look like it, but there are a lot of Christians and even more faithful people out here on the street. Don’t be afraid to find someone who can pray with you often.”

 

He headed away from the Drag to the place he believed he could be safe for the night. It was typical of many first encounters with youth new to the street. I pray for his safety and ultimate decision. I pray lines of communication remain open. I know he’s kidding himself in some ways but I also believe he is strong and resourceful.

 

Support the work we do our clients.

 

“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

 

 

 

 

January 6, 2013

Hammering Nails


Prayers please.

 

I was counseling a drug addict. He’s a Christian. We’ve done all that can be done to be sure of that. But he can’t stop doing drugs. We’re working on why. Usually there is a deep-seated reason people seek drugs (to cover something, to avoid something) but it may be that this friend in Christ uses drugs simply for the high… “it likes a high of seeing God face to face.” I know that’s not true. The guy who sells me the drugs has a pentagram tattooed on his body. I know its a sin for me but I’m powerless.

 

As we discussed he addiction, I tried to give him some new reasons for wanting to stop. The first was a worldly reason. Every time he puts a needle into his arm, he is also stabbing many people who worked to supply his drugs… the grower who gets very little, the refiner who works people to death, the overlord who kills people, the transporters who let people die to carry the goods, etc. That may have helped.

 

And I explained the gospel one more time. Jesus drank the cup of wrath in the garden of Gethsemane. The client knew the story well. So in the cup was your sins. And every time you put a needle in your arm, the cup gets bigger, and more bitter, and more filthy. Jesus has to drink it. The pain of separation from God for Jesus gets that much worse on the cross every time you do it. Jesus cries out, “Father, father, why have forsaken me” even as you put the needle into your arm. You are hammering the nails into Jesus every time you do that. When is enough?

 

He liked both of these tools. He wanted time to think it over. On our next guidance counseling, we plan to discuss how to use the Holy Spirit as spiritual armor against the addiction. Ultimately, his healing and his recovery are up to God. The client has to be willing to give it all to Jesus and he has to be willing to work on recovery. Praying for him mightily!

 

“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