Archive for ‘street youth ministry’

June 14, 2018

Street Youth Ministry as featured by Deidox Austin Vlog May 2018


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November 9, 2016

A Permanent Home for SYM!

There is a lot to do between now and then, but we will have a permanent facility starting Jan. 1! We have the opportunity to keeping an facility from closing. It’s one that clients have been coming to for years. And it’s located inside a church that has been loving West Campus for decades. This is a fantastic answer to prayer, but it means lots of planning and change! We are committed to our clients and to helping them see the changes they want in their lives. Here is a rough timeline for our new facility:
Nov 1 — We have begun listening sessions with our clients. We want to know what things SYM currently does that they don’t want to see change, and what the facility we are taking over does that they want to see change.
Nov 21 — We’ll announce a merged schedule of daily activities during the week of Thanksgiving. The new activities will begin in January.
Nov 28 — We will start training in the facility by serving side by side with the existing staff. This will allow us to signal change and better learn how to keep this new facility running. To do this, we must hire one new person. We’ll also have to modify our existing service in December in order to hold this important training period.
Dec 22 — The old facility will close for the holidays. We will assume its operation at that point.
Jan 6 — We’ll reopen the facility as Street Youth Ministry Drop-in. We’ll need daily volunteers, food volunteers, canned food donations, and a whole lot more prayer support! We intend to continue our Prayer Time, Shower Time/Computer Lab, and Clothing Closet where they are located now, although possibly with adjusted times.
This is what the church looked like many decades ago.
Even then the basement was used for recovery meetings and healing!

We have many weekend projects to accomplish in December, January and February to improve this facility. Please pray we get lots of community help to manage these improvements and changes needed to help us operate the facility more efficiently.

We also have a big fundraising challenge in front of us. Taking on this new facility requires us to raise $220,000 new dollars for the first two years. That’s a huge bump in our budget. By the end of two years, we should have ongoing fundraising in place to sustain operation. Please pray that we find solid partners to help us keep this facility open for the next two years!

Anyone can donate at Just mention dropin in the purpose field and we’ll apply your gift to keeping this facility open!

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July 28, 2015


An update from Darvin.

Last Saturday, I came across “Jack” after I had finished for the day and was about to go home. Jack was a “seeker”, who’d been going to different houses of worship, studying books of different religions and comparing them, to find which one was the true one. 

We talked a little bit, and I told Jack that Christianity was not a religion in the usual sense. It’s about personal relationship with Christ, and not about our efforts to be accepted by God by trying to “be good”. 

Personally, I found it really curious that many people were turning away from these religions to Christ in Indonesia, and yet, in the States, some were becoming more interested in other religions.

If I remembered correctly, Jack used to be active in Christian ministry when he was a teenager. Pray that Jack will renew the personal relationship he has with Christ as His Lord & Savior, who died because none of us can “be good” and get to heaven through our own effort.

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March 2, 2014

Sex Workers And SYM

We meet people right where they are. We don’t have that many sex workers, that is people who perform sex acts for money, but we do have a lot of survival sex. That means exchanging sex for something of value other than money: a ride, a place to sleep, protection, drugs. We also have people who dance in exotic clubs for a living. Obviously they have the opportunity to engage in direct sex work in such environments.

Austin is fairly lucky in that street youth aren’t terribly exploited in the local sex trade. I hear a lot of stories from peers and clients that it’s different in other parts of the country. Some of that may have to do with the fact that the deep south is “runaway unfriendly”–that is, all licensed people are required to turn in an underaged runaway if they become aware of their full name and birthdate. Many of my peers in other locations have a lot more young teenage youth living on the street. In Austin, if you’re under 17, you are likely to be picked up by authorities. As a result, those folks tend not to stay here. But they do congregate in other cities. These most vulnerable young people apparently often fall prey to sex work.

We meet sex workers right where they are. We address the positives of their work (allowing them money to take care of themselves, allowing them to care for others, etc) without tearing them down. And we talk about the negatives. Often sex work is accompanied by the need to self-medicate or numb-out with drugs. Often sex work is accompanied by a very brittle emotional state–maintaining until something comes along and then reacting very strongly to some seemingly little thing. And sex work often completely messes up ability to enjoy human touch and close relationships. Most of our clients know these things and we just check in with them to see how they are coping.

I had a client come forward who is actively engaged in straight porn filming. He is a 19 year old Christ follower and it’s tearing him up to do this. He feels so alone and hopeless. He has a long term girlfriend but he feels himself isolated from her. He confesses his sin after every shooting session, but feels trapped and goes back because the money is so good and he doesn’t know another way to support himself and his girlfriend.

We discussed the nature of forgiven sin. We discussed the nature of ongoing sin. We discussed how he is hurting inside and how little he brings to the relationship with his girlfriend because of it. In addition, we talked about how he’s hurting other people… people he doesn’t even know who watch his film and grow apart in their relationships because porn is a poor substitute for intimacy. He knew it all, but was grateful for having someone to talk with about it.

At the end of our session, I asked if he wanted a hug. I expected him to say no. But he said yes. And hugged me for all he was worth. He struggled to say, “It’s been so long since I’ve been hugged.” I reminded him that he was a beautiful child of God and that he could not do anything to make God love him more than he already does. But change was coming for him… it was very obvious to me. He agreed. I asked if he wanted another hug, and he once again leapt at the chance.

I pray for this client. I pray he sees that he is talented and worthy. I pray he finds a way to say no the allure of this exploited way to make a living for himself. I pray for his healing. I pray he finds a support group that will accept him just as he is. And I pray for all those who find that the only thing of value they have to offer is their body. It hurts them so much and they deserve so much better.

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September 26, 2013

Seeds that Matter

Street Youth Ministry has several missional communities within the UT student body. Missional communities is a very wide topic, and I frankly don’t know everything about it… perhaps even very little. I just want to present the case that it matters. Our MC is not bible study; it’s not preaching; and it’s not worship. It’s not even always churchy or obviously religious in nature. 
Simple Communities Loosely Bound
Our MC is composed of students who have seen the homelessness around the UT campus and who want to respond compassionately. One MC gathers at the CHOP regularly to share a breakfast with hungry young homeless people and to help them express some attitudes about prayer, God, and faith in a safe place. We don’t preach; we don’t admonish or warn. MC members–student from UT usually, simply sit with homeless young people and share answer to simple questions like “I’m thankful for what?” “What’s going on in my life is ____.” and “What do I want God to do in my life?” We require everyone to agree or even have the same ideas about God. We just hang out and share these simple things from our heart. 
Another MC meets on Fridays at 4pm to simply go out on the street and meet homeless people in the campus neighborhood. We take simple sandwiches, snacks, socks, and toiletries to give away if it would help. But the main purpose is to simply check-in with people and find out how they are doing. The MC meets about 25 people each week, about 5 new people each week. Out time spent together isn’t about giving stuff away. It’s about sharing a little of yourself. Stopping to talk and listen to a homeless person who lives in the UT neighborhood. Finding out how they day has been. Finding out where they have been and where they are going. We always ask “How can we be praying with you? What would you like God to be doing in your life?” They usually have answers and we share those answers with prayer warriors who pray during the week.
Seeds of Change Planted in Community
So how is this missional? We see change start to occur all the time. Homeless people served are impressed that people take the time to be with them. And when they find out it’s a Christian group, they are usually even more surprised. Often they share their experiences with “church” from the past, usually negative. MC members listen and don’t argue. They try to understand. We often apologize for how it’s been for them. We tell them that has little to do with Jesus. We even sometimes get to recommend churches that we believe will be welcoming to our homeless friends on Sunday. Frequently they go. Sometimes they find a new church home. Many times a semester, they reconnect with God in a significant way. And a couple times a semester they connect with Jesus for the first time and the church gets the privilege of baptizing them. And a newly baptized homeless person can be an amazing evangelist!
But that’s not all that happens in our MC. The MC members are transformed. We have no criteria for joining our group except a willingness to serve and to try to develop compassion. MC members sometimes have an inactive prayer time or inactive worship life when they come. But as they learn and develop compassion, they often find their Christian life invigorated! Not all MC members are Christian. Some are from other faiths or of no faith. As the MC experiences God’s provision for homeless people right in our midst, it is often difficult to have no faith. Something begins to grow. MC members frequently find themselves moving toward stronger faith, sometimes even joining churches for the first time.
Missional Communities Matter
We know that our missional communities make a difference. They make a difference to the homeless people served. These people are loved well by our community. It impacts their lives in a very positive way. We also know that our MC members grow closer to one another and to God by their activities. They find themselves more aware of God’s presence in their live daily and of their need for Jesus every step of the way. And it’s in community that any of this is possible. Simple, non-churchy, accepting community.

Join us at SYM.


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

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I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
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September 3, 2013

Why Greeters and Hospitality/Helper Volunteer’s Matter

We ask that every one of our events have at least two greeters or hospitality helpers. Some have wondered why. We’ll try to explain the benefits to our clients by YOU being present for them.
First, we try to get friendly greeters. Your smile and laughter mean a lot to our clients. You taking time to show-up for them speaks volumes. It speaks in a voice and a currency that we alone cannot match. It says, “I took time today to try to get to know you a bit and help you out today.”
Second, you’re a visitor to our event. We run each event weekly and try to make them pretty much the same from week to week so that everyone knows what to expect. We challenge our clients, and it’s not unusual for a first time client to be unable to do everything we offer them the chance to share: prayer, asking about God, talking about Christian experiences, working on options, etc. As a visitor, you often bring a little variety into each event. It’s very welcome and they look forward to who might come today. 
Third, you help our clients with your presence. Everyone acts differently when a visitor comes into their home. The same thing happens at our events. Just by being present, you help everyone give their very best behavior.
Forth, you allow me to focus on clients. Greeters and hospitality helpers focus on the room, the food, getting people settled, requests. Terry is free therefore to focus on how each client is today, giving those who might need more attention, checking in with those we know to be struggling, and encouraging those we know to be gaining ground.
Your role as a helper is crucial. And so is the role of intern. Please prayerfully consider signing-up today. You can pick a spot or you can sign-up to be available for monthly assignments.


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

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I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
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August 27, 2013

A thank you note from a client

I received a wonderful thank you from a client first thing in the morning via Facebook. It was beautifully composed, just as you see it. I was able to do some follow-up work via Facebook with the client. She is employed, housed, and going to school. She studies the Bible and prays everyday. She can’t find a local church in her town that suits but after some discussion, may start a house church with her Christian friends! How exciting is that!
I just wanted to say thank you for everything that you did for me while I was homeless. Now days I am a culinary student at [a college.] I own my own home now. You were always one I could talk to about anything and always knew the right advise to give for every situation. I can’t thank you enough for your guidance and support during my darkest days.
[A recovery client!]
We love to hear from recovering clients. It’s great inspiration for us and for current clients, too! What’s your encouraging story?

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

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August 23, 2013

Generating Excitement

SYM recently was invited to “table” at a Christian ministry fair for incoming freshmen at the University of Texas. We did this last year and it was pretty successful. We did get one or two new volunteers from the effort. This year I set goals of (a) not doing this alone, (b) giving out at least 50 brochures, and obtaining at least 25 emails on our iPAD of people who’d like to be reminded with more information once school starts.
I asked the president of our new student organization at UT, Friends of Street Youth, to help me find a volunteer to do. And I asked a regular volunteer to go around at one of our fellowship events for clients and find two clients willing to help out with the event. So with a couple of people to go with me, a schedule and a plan for the tabling event, we set off.
We quickly setup the table. It looked great. By using an iPAD, we kept things simple. We had a few photos of UT students interacting with clients at events and a call to action: Please share your email address on your iPAD or text it to us to get more information.
There were 200 students at Ignite. They came into the fair in three groups. My volunteers went to work. It was awesome! They did such a great job of quickly explaining what we do and then asking if the student would like to get involved.
I listened to a client tell it this way: “We help 60 to 80 street kids on the edge of UT campus every week. We help them with food, clothing, prayer, Bible study and such.” He would stop to let the student ask for me or say something. “Sounds cool. What do I do?” He would continue, “We need your help with events every day. You just hang out with street youth. It really works. This is me in the picture. And now I’m going to start college on August 23!”
We gave out 139 brochures, far surpassing my goal. And we collected email addresses from 54 freshmen who want to know more about SYM! But the best part came later.
Since I didn’t really have any role at the fair outside of planning and getting the people there, I walked around. I found a group of students bunched together at the end of one of “groups.” One girl was very animated and excited. I could see she had a SYM flyer in her hand. She was telling all her small group how exciting SYM was and how cool it was to see a life transformed. She couldn’t wait to volunteer. I offered the whole group flyers and they all took them. Now that’s excitement!
Come and join us!

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

Become a fan on Facebook!Mobile? No problem:
I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online

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August 20, 2013

Thankful Clients: A Facebook Message

We received this from a young lady we have worked with for almost a year. About 25% of our clients are women. Half our clients are under 25. We have three or four pregnant girls and new fathers at most any time. We work to have the best outcomes for each, exploring options, exploring faith and simply being there with them daily.
Client: “I just wanted to say thank you for everything you do for all the street kids in Austin. I am really grateful for everything you do for me, even when it seems like I don’t. so I just wanted to say thank you”
Terry: I appreciate that. I don’t need to hear thank you all the time but it’s great when I do. You looked great today!
Client: “Thanks I looked good because of one of your programs that helped me look like [with new clothes and a safe, peaceful place to gather myself up]. I am trying and thank you again.”
Terry: You are simply welcome! I am praying for a great outcome for you!

Volunteer with SYM.

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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August 7, 2013

Recovery and Integration

During recovery counseling, we often encourage clients to separate the bad things they do from themselves. We talk of “the addiction” or “the urge to steal” or whatever it is. And as the client regains balance, “the addiction” loses power and shrinks. And at some point, we encourage integration once again, the recognition that “the addiction” is within them and part of them. Eventually they can use that knowledge to be stronger and to be just exactly who they are.
This poem was written by a client in recovery with 12 steps, who was recently baptized, and who attends church and small groups regularly. This poem is about his “shadow self”–a dark part of himself that has driven the self-destructive behavior in his live for many years. He writes about what the shadow-self wants in order to gain power over if and to be free from it. While it’s dark, look at the consequences of knowing this! With knowledge and submission and humility, this client is free from sin and free to follow Christ! 
As you read this dark poem, remember that is is written in first person from the perspective of the thing within that wants to harm. The words of “the shadow” are full of desperate lies, hoping to gain control of what is not rightfully his. This client is free! And he knows the words are untrue! May it be so for all who seek recovery.
Shadow Mission
The thief in the night that stole my life
in an enemy’s grip that chokes the light.
Bending the soul, he buried the knife.
The blackness came in a bloody fight.
He said, “Here are the tools. Take what you want
from family and friends. Then you can flaunt
an arrogance that will make them blush,
while they speak of you in a quiet hush.
You don’t need them. You just need me.
No need to love touch and see.
How quickly and quietly their hearts will flee.
No need for salvation, a lord and savior.
You can run around in bad behavior.
The illusion of freedom I give to you
until I take everything, even your shoes.
Walk around the world your head stuck in glue.
Reach out for anyone, and no one is there.
The embrace of your loved ones becomes a blank stare.
Your hands always dirty with knots in your hair.
You’ve given up everything, the ability to care.
A cage in a cage with a side order of chains.
You hold me, your enemy, as I blow out your brains.
No keys can free you, I made you a slave.
Your only serenity becomes an unmarked grave.
You live as a coward, and envy the brave.
Your mine for eternity , unable to save.
Join us at SYM.
“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:
I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online

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