Archive for May, 2014

May 29, 2014

Not a Long Conversation

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It really wasn’t even a conversation. 

I saw a client walking down the street hurriedly. He simply said, “Hey, Terry! I’m [in] a hurry. My life is great, and thank you for praying for me, dude!”

That was it. He walked on. 

I turned to look. He was up. He was happy. He was energetic. 

How different than when he used to tell me, “My life is completely miserable.” 

He was the main person who inspired this quarterly newsletter article: “Why We’re In Ministry.”

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May 27, 2014

God Speaks to our Clients

Our goals for our clients are increased stability, sobriety, reconnection with God, and finding a church home. 

Here is a note from someone who lived on the street less than 5 months ago. And this person had disconnected from God in many ways a year ago. 

See what she writes today. We’re very proud of the amazing hard work that our clients put into raising up their lives!

“God keeps speaking to me…me, being the selfish sinful human that I am, was trying to ignore the signs…it’s hard to tell sometimes what’s from God or the enemy…but I was going through my wallet…when I was homeless..and pregnant in Texas only a few months ago..flying a sign some lady came up to me and prayed…then she gave me a piece of paper and without thinking I just hid it in my wallet…same thing happened with 3 other people the same week…I forgot they were in here but as I’m going through it, I find them and FINALLY read them and the most craziest shit about it all…is that they ALL HAVE THE SAME VERSE written down on EVERY ONE!!…Jeremiah 29:11..”

For surely I know all the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for your well being and not for your harm, to give you a future with hope.   


We celebrate every clients achievement with prayer and thanksgiving. God is very good!

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May 25, 2014

Clients Receive City of Austin Award

Street Youth Ministry had 24 clients at a laundry, for an event, when a four or five story scaffolding surrounding a new apartment complex collapsed during the terrible storm in West Campus (24th/San Gabriel) on the evening of April 7. 

Two of our clients, Taz and Thomas, ran into the mess, even as stuff was still falling, to determine what was involved. They discovered that there was a car trapped under the rubble. You couldn’t see it at all. They called out and learned that the people were trapped but OK. They came back and told us to call 911 to tell them about the people trapped in their car.

As we waited, two more clients, Jeremy Cruts and Chris Shirey, decided there wasn’t time to wait for emergency response. There were live cables on the ground in the water, and the scaffolding rubble on the ground was still attached to the third of the scaffolding still on the building. The situation was definitely not stable. 

They went into the rubble of pipes and boards to free the people trapped in their car under all the mess. They brought the four victims, a family badly shaken, back into the laundry with our group to wait for police and ambulance to arrive. All were OK.

Those four clients received the City of Austin Distinguished Service Award.

There was a write up in the university newspaper, The Daily Texan. Read the story here.

A comment to The Daily Texan article posted online:

“Wow, and very true, they showed that heroism and bravery come in many forms, and not everyone on the street is what/who you may think they are about.”

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May 22, 2014

Street Youth Tied to UT Christian Missional Community

SYM works on the Drag with street-dependent young people. Most clients are college-age and virtually all are under 30. We involve students as volunteers constantly. We have no faith requirement to volunteer.

Rethinking Christian Labels

We often have volunteers that attend churches; to be sure. But we frequently have people who grew up in church but who don't feel very "religious" anymore. It is clear that volunteers often respond to the same messages we give our clients. Christians don't need to be hypocritical or judgmental. They can be transparent and radically accepting. Rethink what it means to be Christian.

Rethinking Working Together

We also have volunteers who are of other faiths. We have people who grew up Jewish. We have volunteers who attend the local Mosque regularly. We have Buddhists who help out. We see no reason to accost their faith. However, we don't change how we talk with our clients, except to acknowledge that not everyone helping today believes in such and such. If it leads to discussion about comparative beliefs, there is no reason to feel threatened. Nor is there any need to "win" any religious debate today. We can work together and serve together without fighting. Often we agree as volunteers that any faith in something is better than no faith, hopelessness and despair.
Rethinking Community
We work in the UT West Campus neighborhood. We believe that students, residents, businesses, churches, artists, visitors, tourists, musicians, and street-youth all have a place in the neighborhood. We believe that our neighborhood would be diminished without any one of these groups. We love to see the neighborhood working together to end violence, crime, littering, hate, and more. We love to see the neighborhood pull together for tree planting, beautification, mural restoration, art installation, building rejuvenation, new businesses, new services, and more. Everyone can play a part. We think it's important to recognize that everyone brings some strength to the neighborhood. It doesn't matter who you are or what you believe. We're better pulling together than apart.

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May 20, 2014

Meet Our 2500th Client!

This May, we served our 2,500th client. This means that we have written 2,500 new names into our prayer book over the past 6 years! 

Brooke and Kevin are traveling together. We met them at our Wash Night in May. One, or the other, is client #2500! They are 23 years old and coming from Houston. This is their first period of street-dependence and it’s been 2 months so far.

What does SYM do that helps? 
You help us with food so we don’t have to steal. You help us with socks, hygiene products, and a safe place to be at events.

What do you like about Austin? 
It is well provisioned for travelers like us. It’s better than some places. It feels generally safe here.

What would help you that we don’t do? 
A safe place to sleep at night is very hard to find. That would be very helpful.

What are your dreams? 
Brook wants to go back to school to be a social worker… perhaps a drug counselor. Kevin wants to go back to be in the music business. “I like the idea of being in production.”

What would you tell people? 
“Be more open to a friend in need. You find out who your real friends are in situations like this.”

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May 18, 2014

WordPress Followers

To those who follow the blog via WordPress, did you know you can receive our newsletter by email? 

You will receive one newsletter four times a year plus our end of year recap. 

We don’t spam, rent, nor share. 

We also invite you to join our prayer team. You would receive one specific prayer, per month, concerning one of our clients. 

Sign-up at

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May 15, 2014

Getting to Know Boggs a Bit

Tell me a little about yourself. 

I am 25 years old. I grew up in Chicago and love making music. I often play guitar or piano at SYM events. I have family back in Chicago and visit them from time to time. I love playing electric guitar on the street. I use the money people give me to buy batteries for my amplifier and strings for my guitar.

What are your plans? 

I am looking forward to SXSW here in Austin*. I plan to travel after SXSW. I hope to own a recording studio one day. 
*the interview was before SXSW this year

How long has SYM been serving you? 

For a little more than 2 years.

What is your favorite SYM Event? 

I really like the Wednesday night fellowship event.

What do you with SYM could do that it doesn’t? 

I think I speak for lots of people when I say showers are really hard to find. If you could find a way to help us get access to showers and have a place to store our things safely while we take them, that would be a great service. I have trouble keeping my guitar safe at the one or two places I know to take a [shower] now, for instance.

What are you selecting for your prize?

I looked at everything on Amazon. It’s amazing what you can buy: cheap food, wine, and lots of stuff. I though maybe I would buy batteries or guitar strings, but then I decided I should get something I can’t find on the street. I selected three books by one of my favored authors. I didn’t want to buy something I can just check-out at the library. To stretch my prize money, I picked used books so I could get all three of the books I haven’t read by this author I like.

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May 13, 2014

Things are Lookin’ Up Winner!

We are proud to announce that a client named Boggs is the first-ever winner of our “Things Are Lookin’ Up!” drawing. 

Boggs got to choose $25 worth of items from Amazon! 

There will be a new winner selected again. Clients are encouraged to enter as often as possible!

Our drawing allows all our clients to enter multiple times in the month. Clients can enter every week in all of these ways:


You can receive this entry card at our weekly prayer time. Turning it back in, with prayer requests from 5 days, is all it takes to enter!


You can receive this entry card at either of our weekly Bible studies, Tuesday 11am or Wednesday 5pm. Return it with one of the things you read, on 5 different days, to enter!


You can receive this card from Terry anytime. Draw or write thank you notes for people in your life, or supporters and volunteers of SYM. We will mail them for you; if needed. To enter, just return your card with the description of three thank yous.


To enter, you just need to give us your workplace and supervisor info. We won’t call unless your entry is the winner. You can get an entry form anytime you see Terry.

These are fun ways to reinforce some of our values and helpful habits that we ask our clients to be open to.

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May 11, 2014

Do We Ask Big Enough?

My daughter has unusual pets. She loves rats! 

One day, she was riding her bike home from her university class, when she was hit in the crosswalk by a careless driver. The careless driver turned out to be a jerk as well because they didn’t stop to give aide. Thankfully, my daughter was only bruised and shocked. She told me, “Another inch and I would have been in the hospital.”

But something far worse happened. Her companion rat was riding on her shoulder. She is a young thing, only about 6 weeks old, and she freaked out when they were both thrown to the ground when hit by the truck. The rat scurried away and past a bridge barrier and down into a river canyon under the bridge. My poor shocked daughter could not follow and could not find the rat.

My daughter was devastated. She didn’t sleep. And she didn’t want to return to school or class. I talked with her on the phone the morning after all this and asked if she was afraid to ride. “No. I can do it.” I talked some more and asked if she wanted to go to class. “I think I will sleep now, skipping my first class, but I’ll go to the second class and my yoga. That will help me.” So that was the plan.

When I hung up, my heart was so heavy. She has had such a rough time and lost her previous companion rat to a death. It was a sweet and wonderful little thing. This was due to a  freak accident only weeks before. I feared the new loss would send her into depression or worse. 

I hurt so much for her. And I prayed all sorts of things all day long. Prayers for protection for her. Prayers that the little rat hadn’t suffered too long, since it had frozen that night. Prayers that my daughter would find inner strength. Prayers that someone would reach out to my daughter in just the right way to help. It went on and on.

That night, I got an amazing text. Things were better. And I called her to get the whole amazing story.

My daughter did sleep after emailing her professor to let her know she would be skipping class because she had been in an accident. Then she pulled herself together and began to ride to school. She would have to pass the place where she had almost been seriously hurt the day before. And where her little rat had frozen to death. 

She steeled herself for the strip. About 2.5 blocks from the place, she stopped. There, off to the side of the road was her rat. ALIVE! She was still totally freaked out and my daughter couldn’t catch her. But she bought a piece of fruit from a nearby convenience store, and the rat was so hungry that she ran to the smell of a freshly opened orange. (Did I mention that my daughter is smart!) 

The little rat was cold, dehydrated and noticeably smaller than 24 hours before. My daughter turned around and biked home. She watered the little rat, fed the little rat, and fixed her up a little nest to warm in. Then, daughter and rat were upstairs napping together.

Never in my prayers, did I even imagine asking God to save her rat and allow them to reunite. I had not hope or even though of such a thing. Now I see that I didn’t ask big enough.

I frequently ask my client, “What do you want God to do in your life?” And it’s a hard question to ask. And I will be telling this little story of the miracle rat for a long time. I hope it stands as a reminder that we need to imagine bigger things. We need to ask for bigger things. 

And we need to have faith
 that our Father wants wonderful things for us, 
things more wonderful
 than we expect.

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May 1, 2014

Commemoration Wall

We Honor Those We’ve Lost

our clients 
or dear friends 
for whom 
we have 
memorial services.

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