Posts tagged ‘street culture’

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!

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“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
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online

via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/08/thankful-clients-facebook-message.html

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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via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/08/what-difference.html

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.”
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I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online

via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/08/recovery-and-integration.html

June 29, 2013

Why do we care?


A client walked alongside me as we finished street outreach. We had given out 20 meals on a chilly Friday afternoon.  He asked me, “Why do you make life easy for the people you choose to serve by giving out food? Shouldn’t you be teaching them to fish instead?” It’s a good question.
The client at my side hasn’t come to any core events so he has only seen me reaching out to people on their home turf and on their own terms. So my first answer was, “I don’t give out food or stuff to make life easy. I do it to start building a relationship.” He worked on that for a while as we continued to walk.
“Why do you want a relationship with them? So you can mentor them and teach them how to get a job and stuff?” Another good question. I told him, “We form a relationship with them for lots of reasons, but the biggest reason isn’t to teach them how to get a job. We’ll glad to share things about getting jobs, learned mostly from successful clients over the year, as well as point you to some some people who help with jobs all the time. But that’s not the main reason we get to know people.” He puzzled on that for a bit and then asked for more.
“The main reason we want a relationship is so people will ponder important questions,” I said. “We want our clients to ask ‘Why are you here?’ and ‘What do you want from me?'” He responded, “That’s what I want to know, too.”
I continued, “I’m here because, after a journey of some years, I’ve concluded that God truly loves me and always has. And in response to that love, I want to know and serve you guys… I want you to have another chance to get to know God personally. I think it matters. I think it’s important.” He replied, “I believe in God. I know He’s out there. I just don’t believe in all that Christian stuff.”
I answered, “That’s OK. I understand, but I’ve decided that Christian stuff is real and can make a difference even out here on the street. I’m here so that you will wonder why I do it and what makes me Christian. I’m here so that in our relationship, you will feel safe enough to ask questions. So you might trust me enough to start praying and talking with God. So you might risk enough to start reading and trying to understand the Bible. So we might know one another well enough that we can be real about life, about what hurts, what we want, and how the Gospel of Jesus Christ might fit into that in a real and relevant way.”
We want our clients to be stable, sober, and have a relationship with God, and to join communities of Christian believers. When this happens–and it has been happening in record numbers this year–it’s a wonderful new beginning. But we cannot make it happen. We believe that a saving relationship with Jesus Christ is the only sustainable fix for the lives of our clients. They are unbelievably strong in so many ways, and a personal relationship with God becomes a huge asset for them. Together with God, they often repair their lives and move from the street to become productive people with friends, families, and strong futures.
It begins with a question: “Why do you care?” Volunteers, supporters and encouragers are all part of causing clients to ask this question. Thank you for being part of SYM.

“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/06/why-do-we-care.html

May 15, 2013

It’s a Small World


I got a call from Alaska, today. It was a person wanting our shipping address. I gave it and then asked why. He explained that he wants to collect shoes and ship a couple of totes of shoes for our clients before winter comes. (Not sure when that its, but it’s probably sooner than winter in Texas.) When I asked how we had come to his attention, he indicated that he had found our photos on Facebook interesting. When I asked why he connected, he indicated that he had spent half his life on the street. Ah!
So far as I know, this person was never a client, although it turns out we each know some clients in common. This person is now married and doing well. I asked what turned him around. He said it was a tough judge. I asked if faith was a resource for him, and he indicated that he’s not religious or Christian. However, he finds strength and discipline by practicing martial arts. And his devotion to helping others comes from an oath he has taken as part of his martial arts training.
It’s a small world and very awesome to have fans all over the country, including Alaska!


“To know, love and serve street dependent youth.”
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Become a fan on Facebook!Mobile? No problem: m.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: tungle.me/terrycole
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via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/05/its-small-world.html

May 10, 2013

An Uplift from an Unexpected Source


I was having a challenging day. There is a resurgence of drug use (tweaking) in a group of our clients. There is a certain amount of complacency in an even larger group of our clients. In fact, today, I was having a hard time finding any of our street-bound clients who were ready to work on getting anywhere.
Now… ministry is not about me feeling good about what we do. And we do celebrate tons of clients who have gotten up off the street and gone places with their lives. What’s going on right now is that we have a lot of people who aren’t ready to make change. Maybe it’s Spring fever! But it was a hard day to get through. Clients came for food and left. “What’s in it for me NOW” sort of ruled the day. Clients said “hi”, but otherwise avoided conversations about change. They were more interested this day in partying than planning. 
I came across a client I haven’t seen in a while. He was viewed by man as “hopeless.” He was certainly hard to manage back in the day! He was a big drug user, practiced sex as a means of entertainment, and was quite violent. His mental health challenges were huge, as well. 
Today, he was sitting on the ground waiting. I asked him how things were. “I’ve been sober for months. I’ve been taking my meds and they really help. I’ve gotten my social security reinstated. I’m getting ready to move into a place and figure out how to get some kind of job.” Wow! That’s a big contrast to the rest of my day. I shared that with him and thanked him.
He had more to say. He goes to church regularly. He loves it. And he’s involved in worship, study and fellowship activities three times a week. He’s not dating anyone right now, although he admits he’s like to be. He still struggles with sex but he led a conversation with me about the virtues of wanting to be with one person and about taking the physical stuff slow. Awesome! That really made my day and I told him so. 
But he still had more! He has been helping another client. The second client is challenged with a severe but treatable mental health issue. The client was mistreated by “Christians” in the past and is very hot/cold on having a relationship with Jesus. But the first client is helping the second client, taking him to church, helping him to keep up with things and plan, and encouraging him to be open to mental health treatment. The first client talked in terms of his leadership skills and wanting to help others! Wow!
I’ll go through all the bad days ahead in exchange for seeing street-dependent clients get up and help themselves and then start to help others who struggle in ways that they can understand first hand. It’s just awesome to see! 
What a great day it is today. I better get going and find out why! Volunteer with our ministry.

“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: m.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
I’m a notary for benefit of clients and supporters. Ph: (512) 553-3796
Volunteer or donate (tax deductible) online
Arrange a meeting with me: tungle.me/terrycole
Follow SYM: Facebook LinkedIn Blog RSS Twitter Plaxo Etsy Etsy Blogger Google Buzz Tungle.me YouTube Google Plus

via Blogger http://streetyouth.blogspot.com/2013/05/an-uplift-from-unexpected-source.html

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!

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May 7, 2010

Do we encourage street life?


"Do you ever worry that you might encourage street youth by all that you do? I mean…I know it's good to help out, but I've always wanted to ask this. I figured you might know."  This is the question that "David" asked me.  It's one that comes up more frequently from the community than from street kids.  I said, "Frankly, you're probably the expert here. You should tell me. Do the social workers help or not? Do I? I'll tell you what I know but I also want you to tell me what you think." He agreed.

 
I said, "The social work name for encouraging a destructive behavior is enabling. Social work organizations, religious organizations, and I all worry about it. I get asked about it from potential donors and volunteers almost every week.

 
"David, if I could change only one thing for those to whom I minister, it would be to introduce them to Jesus Christ. Once you know Jesus, if it's OK with Him for you to live on the street, then it's fine with me. If it's OK with Him for you to drink, then I have no problems. I'm not the judge. I believe that God is so big and so powerful that I can trust him to help make whatever changes a person needs once they get to know Him.

 
"I provide relief as a way of getting your attention, as a way of getting to know you, as a way of loving you. Frequently I come empty handed; I don't want to be seen as Santa Claus. I want to come and enjoy your company. But, sometimes I get caught up in the stuff and in the numbers. When I do that, I sin; I separate myself from God and take His ministry off course. When I began providing sandwiches on Friday, I promised myself that I would never apologize for not having any or enough. Sometimes I do worry about it. That's a temptation that I feel on an almost daily basis, and it's a problem that I think every organization faces, including the social work ones and the religious ones. What do you say, David? Are we enabling the kids or not?"

 
He said, "I've been on and off the streets for 15 years. I'm older than many of these kids out here. There is no question that you make it easier for me to stay out here. I knew you'd be down here with food today. But if you didn't come, I could find food anyway. But you do make it easier for me. I think only 15% of the kids are listening right now. And that's worth something. I mean you're planting seeds, and you don't know what happens down the line. But most just want to party and stay out here right now."

 
"I agree with you. The Bible even uses words like you chose, David. We do plant seeds. Some are swept away by forces of the world. Some don't grow well or even sprout at all, but some do. The Bible says those who do grow well multiply greatly and are very valuable. Jesus is so gentle he would not break a bent-over stem or blow out a candle while even the smallest glow remains. (Don't get me wrong… In the end, Jesus will judge those who do not know Him.) So I rejoice in sharing whatever I have to give, David, in the way of relief. But I treasure most moments of real authenticity and conversations about God, just like this one."

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March 26, 2010

Big hearts


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