Archive for September, 2014

September 30, 2014

The Sex Talk – Part I


You can never stop being surprised by my job of working with street-dependent young people. This happened during a cold weather response, while handing out jackets, blankets and the like. There were two people at the truck. One was a 20 year old male client and the other was an older gentleman who I’ve seen around and occasionally serve. We’re focused on young people but we are happy to serve older folks that fit in.

The older man was talkative and asking me lots of questions. The young client had his face covered with a scarf and I could only see his eyes. He listened intently to our conversation.

The older man asked me lots of questions, but pursued a line of questions around why I chose to server young people. I explained my view about how young street-dependent people and older homeless people are different, admitting that I was talking broad brush. There are always exceptions and as many unique stories as there are people on the street. But a typical street youth, finds that on the street it is the best place he or she has been yet. That doesn’t mean all of them come from broken homes, although a majority do, but that they didn’t fit in where they came from. They find a sense of belonging on the street.

As I shared this and more, I watched my client to see his reaction. He seemed to nod in agreement. I never want to tell anyone anything about street youth that I wouldn’t say in front of my clients. And I’ve learned to ask for feedback. After an interview or presentation, I turn and ask my clients if I get it right. It’s part of the authenticity that street youth are looking for.

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My attempts to draw my young client into the conversation failed, and somehow the older man started asking about sex. I explained that I don’t fight the obvious culture wars with my clients. I admit sex is awesome. In fact, I proclaim that it’s awesome and invented by God. However, I teach that it was provided by God for a reason. And that reason is to bring us together in intimacy with our spouse. That union is holy and God given. It’s not about getting off, getting love, or growing up. It’s about sharing. And I also teach John Paul’s II theology of the body. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit are in constant communion. And the closest thing we come to that on earth is sex. That is physical sex that comes from putting body into body, combined with emotional connection and mental sharing. I noticed my client squirming and looking uncomfortable. I thought at first he didn’t agree. But that wasn’t it. Then I thought I embarrassed him. But that didn’t appear to be it either.

Then I noticed in his eyes that he was fighting back tears. 

This is the end of Part I. Part II continues on next blog post.

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September 28, 2014

Last Book And First Book


Today’s Bible trivia questions:

1. What is the name of the last book in the Old Testament?
2. What is the name of the first book in the New Testament?

 
The answers will appear next week.

Today’s Bible verses:

Proverbs 3:5-6
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, 
and do not lean on your own understanding. 
6  In all your ways  acknowledge him,  
and he will make straight your paths.”

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September 26, 2014

Invitation From A Volunteer


My wife Rachel and I have been attending Covenant for just over a year.  In our short time at the church, we’ve found amazing community in the 20s/30s group, felt warmly welcomed by members of all ages, and have been challenged by insightful teaching.  An experience that I want to highlight is our time serving with Street Youth Ministry (SYM), coordinated and founded by longtime member Terry Cole.

Rachel and I believe, as many of us do, that active service and involvement is a vital part to practicing our faith.  We try to seek out ministries that reach people and places that are close to God’s heart.  One of the most piercing chapters in the Bible for me is Isaiah 58, where God speaks through the words of the prophet about true fasting – we are called to share food, break the chains of injustice, and clothe the naked… in behalf of the hungry.

These holy tasks are not easy for anyone to shoulder alone.  Understanding who is in need and what the best ways are to help has been a challenge for us, and we prayed for this understanding, though perhaps not expecting that God would answer our prayer in the way He did.

 Isaiah 58″


We were introduced to SYM through a friend in the 20s/30s group, and we were excited to find that it is a ministry that seeks “to know, love, and serve street-dependent youth” in Austin.  This mission far exceeds just a meal or temporary help, it is based on building relationships rather than simply providing services.  Joining in a God-sized mission like this cannot just involve one person or a few people.  It involves a community; it involves churches; it involves all of us and the varying gifts and passions that God has given us.

For just a few Saturdays this summer, Rachel and I were blessed with the opportunity to pick up boxes of donated food and prepare meals for the ministry with Terry for the upcoming week.  In a serviceable kitchen in the basement of a church off of the Drag by UT campus, we gathered on Saturday morning to chop zucchini, blend salsa, improvise fruit salad, and make creative use of whatever sort of food we had.  We played just a small role in this God-sized mission, but having creative fun in the kitchen, serving alongside Terry, and learning about SYM’s mission certainly left an impression on us.

We are moving to a new city and a new job this fall, but before we depart, we want to challenge YOU to play a part in this vital ministry.  It took us almost a year at Covenant before we came across SYM – you may have been at Covenant just a few weeks, or you may be a life-long member, but I want to encourage you to consider serving alongside Terry in knowing, loving, and serving our friends in need.

You may be adept at dicing onions for salsa, or you may have a passion for leading Bible studies?  Perhaps you can share a skill with the clients at the weekly self-care gathering, or maybe you can offer a financial blessing to the ministry. In any capacity you can serve, SYM gratefully receives and faithfully uses the time, talents, and resources with which it has been blessed.  The heart of our Father is zealously passionate for justice, mercy, clothing, food, and shelter for the needy.  Terry and SYM faithfully serve a small corner of the world in need, but the ministry is larger than just a few people – it involves all of us. Will you consider playing a part in serving those in need through SYM?

You can find out more about SYM’s mission and opportunities at http://ift.tt/1qQKPHo.

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September 21, 2014

Retiring From Traveling Life


We got this note from a young woman we served off and on for a year or two. She is “retiring” now from the traveling life. Her story is typical and we are delighted to share it. A few things were changed because she’s a private person, but agreed to share her story to inspire others to act, to do the same, or to find their own path:

Thank you for the help with the letter of referral! I got an address. And I got myself all set up with a job, housing, and supportive people around me. And now all I have to do do is maintain it. 

I LIVE SOMEWHERE!!!!!!!!!!!! 

I was on and off the streets for six years. The last two have been *solid on*, but a new day is starting. I’ve also come back to Christianity, and I am feeling stronger now than ever. I went from being raised Christian, to seeing its fallacies and leaving the church, to coming back around and piddling in it, to now being fully devoted–every single day. Every day, every day, every day!

When I left the church, I started to despise Christians after all I’d been through with them. I mostly hated the infighting between denominations, but I also hated their beliefs too. But you know what??? When you’re down and out on the streets, with nobody helping–nobody but the Christians (and the Krishnas too), … it makes a difference. And it got my attention. So I’m back.

BLESSINGS!! And thank you for your LOVE and KINDNESS and PATIENCE and UNDERSTANDING. God works through you and the church!




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September 16, 2014

A Note From a Client Starting ACC This Semester


We got this via Facebook the other day. Thank you’s and stories of success just don’t get old!

“When I was homeless on the drag, I tried and tried to [get] someone to help me get my TX ID. After approx 5 yrs with no ID, YOU stepped in, introduced me to a lawyer, and I had my ID in less than 2 weeks. You truly are doing good work. I start classes @ACC next week, and I attribute it to YOU, and YOUR belief in every one of your clients/friends!

Keep up the good work!”

Note: We purchase college textbooks for our clients who go to college. They have to do a lot of the legwork and apply for college on their own and apply to our textbook program at http://ift.tt/1sjdxxy.

But it’s a program that works. It has emphasized the importance of textbooks and of academic success to our clients. Most of our clients actually don’t need us to purchase the books after a few semesters. And we give every client the opportunity to pay it forward eventually after they have stabilized a bit, helping other people get free books just like they did. We raise funds for textbooks once a year at back-to-school time.

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