Posts tagged ‘social constuctivism’

June 26, 2010

Questions from Youth about Street Youth

  • “Getting to see the youth in a positive setting. You usually only hear about homeless people negatively.” 
  • “Just getting to talk to them about stuff they like.”
The greatest gift I believe we can give to street youth it so make them visible and to see them as human beings. They are not runaways and they are not homeless adults. They are rebellious youth trying to figure out what to be, what to do, how the world works. They got lousy starts, usually, and are trying to make the best of it.

What bothered you? 
  • “Some of them really talk mean to some of the other street kids.”
  •  “I saw a fresh tattoo on one and a pack of cigarettes on another. Seems like they could spend their money differently.”
Street youth are family to one another. Usually the best family they have ever experienced. That means there are loving dynamics but also tough dynamics. There is a lot of drama, but in the end they usually look out for each other like brothers and sisters.
Street youth do get money as gifts or from begging or by working temp jobs. And they don’t often safe it all up and use it to leave the street. As Christians we need to take care not to judge them for this. We are called to love them just as they are. We can hold our fellow believers in our churches to higher standards, and the Bible asks us to do that in fact. But outside the church we are called to love unconditionally.

Do you have other questions?
  • “I heard a lot of stories. I started to wonder if they were telling me the truth or what they wanted me to hear to get what they wanted.” 

This is a great observation. Don’t we all make up certain things about our lives and tell little fibs? Haven’t we at some time or another made a more elaborate web of lies to protect something we’re ashamed of or afraid of? Street kids are no different. They do sometimes tell elaborate lies. I always accept those initially. I never challenge them. If I begin to question certain parts, it may cause great damage. Sort of like tugging at a loose thread on a dress jacket sleeve. Suddenly the jacket may completely fall apart. I am strongly interested in the truth, but I want to help the youth get to the truth with the appropriate love and support systems. The street offers little in the way of support so it’s not a good place to begin to deconstruct the elaborate shells of protection that some youth have build around them.

  •  “Why don’t the churches down here hire the youth to do odd jobs. I know my church has all kinds of jobs to do.” 
There are about 12 churches and even more para-church organizations in the 12 blocks I serve. Few of them hire homeless to do anything, although almost all offer some type of social service (food pantry, clothing closet, weekly case management, etc.). I believe it is the plight of urban churches in the trenches with poverty to tire. Perhaps they need more help from suburban churches, coming alongside and encouraging, inspiring, and helping. It is my prayer that the churches in the west campus area will find ways to do even more… allowing street youth access to water in the summer, allowing street youth a safe place to sit in the daytime, a safe place to sleep outdoors in the night, odd jobs to earn money or bus passes. It is complicated, but that simply means it takes the power and complexity of the church at work! For God, nothing is impossible!

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