I recently had request for a description of what I do in a day for ministry. Here was Monday:
9:00 Daily Bible Reading (at home). I read with a group of folks following a reading schedule. We email one another when we’re done to help keep accountability. The group is described here. Anyone can join the group. http://sites.google.com/site/terrycole002/prophecyreadinggroup. It was founded by a friend of mine. The theme today was God is Faithful.
10:00 Prepared for Bible Teaching on Tuesday. I’m teaching through Matthew 8 this week. The focus will be on the value of faith. I will also help the street youth relate to as many of the people described in Matthew 8 as possible. Some might relate to the leper, the Roman solider, or the demoniacs. (Not that they are any of these, but these men suffer in some of the same ways as many of the street youth.) In addition to reviewing the scriptures and commentaries, I also designed an group session. We will start out by talking about how someone they observed was sick and recovered and how that felt. Then we will share a time we felt really sick ourselves. This will go with the healing theme found in Matthew 8. After the Bible lesson, we will play a memory game with two teams. The game pieces are all items relating to faith. I will ask whoever makes a match to describe someone they know who values whatever the match is. I printed out 15 matching photo pairs with things like prayer, worship, bible… and money, church, running. And we will conclude with a personal time of sharing about the value of faith to them… high, low, strong, weak. How do they take care of their faith? How do they feed it? I printed the lesson plan and emailed it to my helper.
Noon: Had a lunch with my wife. It’s one of the benefits of us both working out of the home! I had a meatloaf sandwich made from marked-down ground beef. We try to use money stewarded to us by donors wisely. After my delicious sandwich, I had my big indulgence for the day: my one cup of coffee. I get irritable after more than one cup and it messes with my sleep, so I enjoy my one good made-at-home cup of coffee after lunch. Mmmmmmm… I checked up on FaceBook and email while I enjoyed it.
2:00 Volunteered at the Street Drop-in Center of Lifeworks (located in the basement of a church on the Drag). Actually I’m an adjunct staff member. This was my first day there in a week because I took Spring Break off from Lifeworks. So everyone was happy to see me again and there were some new folks. I screened a couple of new folks for eligibility. I had to turn one away because he was 24 and was able to help the second with the in-take paperwork. I helped him with food and advised him how to get the bus pass he was seeking. I checked in with a couple I counsel… I regularly ask about their stress and anger levels on a scale of 1 to 10. Both were superb… a very welcome change. I also followed up with a couple of people who I knew were thinking of traveling soon. I tried to follow-up with a very young client, but he was not open to my questions. I tried to follow-up with another young man. He let me know that he was having a terrible day and didn’t want to talk. I respected that and let him have his space. A couple of people started physically play-fighting. I broke that up because the drop-in space has to be safe for everyone. No horseplay allowed. I noticed one young man in bad physical shape. I checked in with him to find out why he was hurting. I helped refer him to some medical advice. I signed one young lady up for dental treatment on Monday. I sat with another young girl who was scowling. Turns out she’s on some medication that is really upsetting her stomach. We talked about what options she might have to help this. I found some saltines for her to take away. All in all, I visited with 19 street youth. Three were new to me.
3:45 Drop-in clean-up. Each day we spray down all the furniture with bleach water to kill germs and parasites. We sweep the floor and take out all the trash.
4:00 (outside) I walked the Drag from 26th to 19th street. I found my first group in back of a parking lot near 25th. They were talking about one street youth’s birthday party over the weekend. I wished him happy birthday. I followed up with one of these youth about getting an ID. He lacked an address for receiving some important paperwork so I helped him look at his options. I invited them all to Bible study the next day at 2.
I met my next client waiting to cross the light. He’s a very regular Bible reader, but today he was limping. I asked what was the matter and found out that he had gotten a bad foot fungus over the weekend but had begun to treat it.
I met a trio from Maryland next. They are new to town so I tried to familiarize them with the rules of downtown Austin (no sitting on sidewalks, no panhandling near ATMs, what aggressive panhandling means). I don’t expect them to follow all the rules, but traveling kids always seem to appreciate someone helping them learn what’s what in a new town. I invited these newcomers to Bible study tomorrow also.
The next group I met were begging for spare change (they call it “spanging”) at the corner of an abandoned storefront at 24th. I held an impromptu drug counseling with two of these. They have both expressed being sick and tired of addiction. One is taking action to look for a job. The other is thinking of starting over in a new location. I offered options for getting help to both and suggested that both have to start dealing with the addiction… neither jobs nor a new location will be good unless the addiction get addressed. There is no easy path for either of them. However, they can choose which way to go and how much help they accept. Both were appreciative of our discussions. At the same location, I met a young man who I hadn’t seen for a while. He’d been in jail last week. He was drunk and a little out of control. But he was at least talking with me. He has a very big hurt in his life that he needs to eventually deal with. I asked how he was doing… OK. I asked what he’s up to. “What I’m best at,” meaning taking risks and hurting himself. I prayed for him as I stood with him. I pray for him to come face to face with his trouble either working with me or some other person who can offer support. He’s alone with his hurt now… and it’s so much to carry. I reminded them all that they were welcome at Bible study.
The next person I met was one I had seen in the drop-in earlier but who was having such a bad day. He wanted to talk now. I listened to what was bugging him. I was relieved because, even though it was sharply painful for him, it wasn’t severe. We talked about some options he had to relieve what was bugging him. He adopted a plan and set about it. I reminded him about Bible study tomorrow.
This continued as I worked my way down to 19th street. In all I met with 26 people this afternoon. That’s a pretty high number. I gave out nothing today while walking. I do that on Fridays. While it would be wonderful to give stuff out every day, I’ve got a couple of issue with it. First, I’m not buying their relationship and I want them to know that. Second, it takes a lot of time to manage all the material, moving it from donations to storage to loading it and giving it out. I reserve that for Tuesdays and Fridays.
6:30 Dinner with the family. First day back from Spring Break was good for everyone.
7:30 Responding to emails. A new monthly donor needs to be thanked for letting me know a regular check will be going to Covenant to support my family and ministry. I edited my web site because I noticed some horrible mistakes on the donation drop-off site page. I responded to a donor who wants to drop-off a needed boom-box and to help proofread future publications. I sent thank you notes and photos to the sandwich providers from last week. I uploaded photos from my camera that will be used for an upcoming blog.
8:00 Updated my records for last week. I write down the names of everyone I visit with each day. This helps me learn their names and serves as something I can pray through in spare moments. I enter the records each week into a spreadsheet that updates my web page graphs at http://sites.google.com/site/streetyouth/who-we-serve/some-numbers. So far this year, I’ve met 154 new kids and reconnected with 58. I’ve had 1605 contacts so far this year with new and old clients: 143 for witnessing, 28 for crisis intervention, 71 for counselling, and 422 for follow-up discussions.
8:30: Created a welcome email for all those people new to our mailing lists but who haven’t yet received a newsletter. I haven’t sent a newsletter since January, thinking everyone heard quite enough from me in November and December! However, it’s important to keep people aware of FaceBook, the web page with sign-ups, ministry needs, donation methods, etc. I am told over and over again that it is impossible to over-communicate to busy people! The email should be waiting in the in boxes tomorrow morning of the 120 people who are new to Street Youth Ministry volunteer, newsletter, and donor lists since early December 2009.
9:00 Wrote and edited this blog entry.