Posts tagged ‘faith’

September 14, 2016

Latest Monthly Goals! July 15 – August 15

Each month, our clients make awesome progress that we celebrate!

We pray for our clients in four important areas: stability, sobriety, reconnecting with God, and finding a faith home.

Join us in celebrating these:


Jobs obtained — One got a new job at El Mercado. Another at a car wash. Another at Popeye’s. One at at H2O. One client no longer on the streets has a job as a janitor at UT and is the elected labor representative. Three more additional clients are working at new places. Another client no longer on the streets has a new job at Hoodz steam cleaning restaurant vent hoods. One client no longer on the streets just passed is real estate exam and is a new broker! One client no longer on the streets has a job at a concrete company. One client was hired by the Downtown Alliance. Another is is working at a restaurant on the Drag, and one got a job at Fry’s Electronics. Finally, one has a new job at the UT Co-op Please join us in praying they can keep their jobs. It’s not easy!

Jobs maintained — One client is still working at Barlotta; Another is still working as a secretary at Centex. Job maintenance takes work!

Housing — 18 clients are celebrating new housing this month! Awesome work, folks!

Education — One client is attending GED classes, another is still in culinary school and one has started school at ACC, majoring in law enforcement. Education is such a door opener!

Family reconciliation — One client has reunited with her birth mother, another is getting back into his daughter’s life and one is returning home. Re-forming adult family relationships is hard work!

Benefits— Three clients are celebrating government benefits, and one newly pregnant client is seeking WIC support. A little help can go a long ways!

Transportation — Two clients are celebrating getting dependable cars. Getting reliable transportation frees one to work outside bus routes and schedules!

Misc. — One client is pregnant and spent the full month off the streets!  Less street months means much better outcomes!


Milestones — 12 clients are celebrating sobriety milestones this month. It’s always a daily choice!

Reconnection with God 

One client wants to serve Street Youth Ministry someday. One client confessed to an ongoing sin. Another client is celebrating his new belief in Jesus. Faith is such a great resource!

Finding a Faith Home 

One client is actively looking for a church home, and another is attending a Bible study at his church. We are our clients’ church-on-training-wheels, and we love it when they find their own communities to call home!

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March 29, 2015

Faith Unseen

Joyful toon

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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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August 17, 2013

What a difference!

I was walking on our Friday mini-mission trip with a volunteer talking. I saw someone I thought I recognized about a half-block up. I suggested that the volunteer allow me to approach the person alone because the person I thought I recognized is sometimes very angry.
I couldn’t have been more mistaken about who I saw. The musical 6 foot 8 young man grinned ear to ear and shouted, “Well hello, Terry! I was hoping to see you! You probably don’t remember me, but I’m Jason.” I could hardly believe what I was seeing. 
For you see, it was the same man outwardly, but there was nothing the same about him. He was peaceful, happy, and full of joy. He told me where he had been for the past year or so and why he was traveling and street-dependent again. He gratefully took a few things and bragged about how he tells everyone what great work we do, wherever he goes. And then he said goodbye.
I stopped him and asked about his faith, because I had a hunch. Sure enough, he told me he had hit rock bottom about a year ago and have found a new life in Christ! I asked if I could give him a hug and he grinned ear to ear and dropped his pack to the ground. I once again feared for my safety as he bear-hugged me. Thankfully no ribs were cracked. What a wonderful difference faith makes.
We cannot fix anyone, but faith can cure anything through God. We are so happy to see someone find their way home to Christ’s loving arms.

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April 18, 2010

Three faces on addiction

Last week I saw three street kids who are addicted to heroine. Each has a unique story.

A young woman, beautiful and smart, sat all alone on a curb in the alleyway. She uses heroin every day; her life revolves around finding out how to get the next hit. Her boyfriend is also addicted. Taking good care of her dog seems to be all she has of a normal life. When I spoke to her, she looked terribly tired and sad. She knows she has only three options. One, continue with heroin; this would end very badly. Two, kick the habit cold turkey. She knows how to stop the addiction, but “I know if I quit, I’ll just start again. I can’t seem to stay away.”  Withdrawal is terrible. Imagine seven days of the worst flu you’ve ever had.  For most, that is the closest encounter we’ll have to withdrawal from heroin. Her third option is a methadone treatment center. Methadone has side effects and is addictive, too.  She thought through her choices. “All are hard. All are difficult. I don’t know what I’m going to do.” She is resistant to the gospel. Faith is not a resource for her. As I left, I prayed for her to find the strength to stop. I prayed she would find room for faith because it would help her stop.

I also spoke with a tall and elegant man who was addicted to heroin just a year ago. He was suicidal and hated himself. He decided to stop, and he rediscovered his relationship with Jesus. Now he lives in an apartment. He goes to church every Sunday. He has a girlfriend “just because we like each other. It’s the first time I’ve had a girlfriend for that reason. It seems kind of weird.” However, last week, he began to use heroin again. “I don’t know why. I just did. But you know… it wasn’t good. I didn’t like it. I guess I’m changing. I guess I’m finally growing up. I won’t do it again. I’m even thinking about going to a Christian rehabilitation center. I want to learn to truly live.” We talked about how the Holy Spirit will ask for changes in his life, but will not ask for more than he and Jesus can bear together.

Finally, I met with a former heroin addict and his wife; he stopped several years ago. He has two jobs now. They live in an apartment. “It feels really good to pay bills. You know…to be able to live like normal people. My wife doesn’t have to dance anymore. She’s out of the strip clubs.” I asked, “And church? Do you see yourself in church someday?” “Yeah, but I don’t know where to start. ” I smiled and made an appointment to talk about finding a church home for the two of them.

Only forty percent of street youth are addicted to substances. The most common substance abuse issues in Austin are with alcohol and heroin. Though several options exist, not all will accept help. The key is helping them is to gain their trust. They alone hold the keys to their change, but some of us get the privilege to walk alongside them. I rejoice for the changes going on in each of their lives. I hurt for them as they each struggle with past and present pain. I especially pray today for the woman on the curb, sitting alone, and wondering which of the difficult paths to take. May she know that Jesus is sitting beside her, waiting patiently and lovingly, to bear her burdens with her.

June 5, 2009

Knocking or Running Away?

I spent the morning with “Jacob”, a young man in his mid twenties man who lives on the street. He has invited me into conversations about Jesus before, but this morning he was obvious. And we talked at great length.

Jacob is a street poet. He finds little joy in anything else. He imagines that if he had money, he would engage in all sorts of activities that would make him happy. (Intriguingly, they were all activities which are dangerous and thrilling, just like the street like he currently lives.) I guided him to continue to explore the poet and entertainer that lives inside him. (You’ll find a rare quotation that “Jacob” shared with me by permission at the end of this article that I think is simply beautiful!)
Jacob was a foster kid, like so many kids of the street. He did prison time for a felony starting as a teenager, like so many others as well. He is very unusual in that his foster mom is a preacher. He was encouraged to go to Bible college and did.
So what does he need to talk with me about? Jacob came to doubt the Bible during his studies. He finds many inconsistencies in the Bible. He is able to debate with a fine, sharp point all kinds of issues. And he is also able to apply the Bible to the churches he sees and find many flaws. To him, these inconsistencies (in the Bible and between the ideal church and the modern church) have become a license to create his own religion and love is own God. He finds comfort in this, rather than viewing it as idolatry that it is. I know many who take this same position, both on the street and many living in homes.
I was happy that Jacob came to talk. I shared with him that belief in the Bible starts first with meeting the very real Jesus in person. After that, faith builds and you simply know that the Bible is true. For me and for most, there is no magic moment when it all makes sense. Often we’re not sure how to understand or apply some particular part of the Bible, but by walking with Jesus we simply know, feel, and observe it’s truth. Over time, the simple value and weight of the whole become allies in balancing those parts which we have difficulties to grasp.
Jacob’s heart was not instantly melted by our conversation. However, he was refreshed by a non-judgemental chance to talk about his concerns. And I was overjoyed to have the privilege of looking after him for a day. It was hard to decide if Jacob was knocking on the door today, or if he was running away. It’s likely he’s doing both. May he soon come face to face with Jesus as his personal savior and truly find what can make him complete and happy! Amen.
A quote from Jacob’s street poetry. He writes many dark lines about his experiences, his yearning for honestly and openness. This is one of his beautiful lines. I wish I could find him a publicist or an agent. If you’d like that, contact me.
“Tell me that you think I’m beautiful
not in spite of my flaws,
but tell me that you think I’m beautiful
because of my flaws.”
Jesus does look down on Jacob and say, “I love you just the way you are, Jacob. Come home to me.”
March 12, 2009

You Just Stand

Today I had a hard ministry day. I was sick last week in the bed with flu, so I was really glad to be back in the field and in the streets. The first half of my day went as expected. People were glad to see me up and around again. I helped various people. I supervised as a group of friends help a friend walk off a bad dose of drugs. I counseled a young man wanting to stop his heroine use. I made plans to help someone write a resume and encouraged them in overcoming anxiety they have with the whole job thing. All this may sound bad or like a downer, but it is what I was made for. I am shaped perfectly in order to do the work described. The tough part came in the last two hours of my day.

I was presented by a friend with a young person, about 28 years old. This person was new to the streets. They needed help (physical things to make a night on the street safer), but it was after 5pm so none of the best sources of help were open any longer. This person was anxious inside the crowded place where we met, so I went outside to talk with him. It was cold and rainy today, so this meant being outside with him. I did an mental assessment through our conversation. This person was not a danger to himself. This person was not hooked on drugs. But this person has had about a multi-month episode of troubles. The more I talked, but more I could tell that this person was suffering some side effects of a mental condition. However, it was mild enough that there was no need to call in help.

I explained the options available to this person for shelter tonight. He didn’t like them. I understood but there really wasn’t any other options to offer. He could go to one of our two shelters. Both are scary. He could call a number in his pocket of someone willing to loan him a tent so he could camp outside. He could begin to hitchhike to his sisters in another state. Or he could pursue a couple of other even poorer options. However, for each, he had reasons why he couldn’t choose the option.

I tried another approach. I explored his relationship assets. He has a terrible and broken relationship with his father. No help there. His mother is dead. His sister lives in another state and will only help if he goes there. He has no friends in town, except friends that he labels as evil.

I tried faith. I asked if faith were a resource for him, an open ended question that usually gets an honest answer about the faith of a person. He said yes emphatically. So I asked him what kind and how that was going. He said that he’s a Christian seeker, and doing all he could to learn more. What luck… I’m a Christian missionary! I asked about his current understanding. It seemed minimal (although I have no need to judge him), so I explained grace. He understood but still I could sense that it wasn’t all there for him yet. We talked about sin. He seemed to understand, but I could tell that he didn’t quite. We talked about how rebellious we all are and how Jesus will absolutely always take us back. His eyes watered but he still held back. Finally, I asked him if he believed he was truly a beloved child of God. He said he wanted to, but something held him back. He said it was all the evil around him. We prayed together for safety, deliverance, comfort, and guidance.

Despite all that I knew to do, I could not get through today. I could not help him find a good alternative for shelter. I could not help him find a good resource for support. I could not help him today break through in his faith. There was nothing left to do but to stand in the cold and the rain with him. We stood and talked for about an hour more. We were both quite chilled. He was troubled enough that I just could not leave him. I was reminded of a Linda Martin song, “What do you do when it seems like you can’t make it through? Well you just stand. When there’s nothing left to do, you just stand. Watch the Lord see you through. After you’ve done all you can, you just stand.” So we just stood.

When it came time for me to leave, he thanked me. He said that I had obviously given him all that I had to give and he was grateful. He called the friend who might help him find a place to camp outside tonight. I pray that he is safe. I pray that he finds a way to surrender and accept grace. I pray that he finds a peace that surpasses all understanding tonight.