Jan 14, 2011

Mini Mission Trip Surprises Many

Street Youth Ministry offers Austinites (and visitors) a mini mission trip every Friday afternoon from 4 to 6pm. During that time, volunteers will walk the streets of Austin (12 blocks) and learn many things they probably never suspected about Austin and street-dependent young people who are living on the street or traveling the country.

Volunteers don't require any special training in advance, and they receive on-the-job training from missionary, Terry Cole. Often newcomers will be teaming with veteran volunteers as well. The ministry attracts volunteers of all ages, although it is especially wonderful to see high school and college age youth serving the street-dependent youth, approximatively the same age and often sharing many interest, too.

Most mission trippers will encounter 15 to 20 street youth during the two hour mission trip. They will have a chance to offer them food, toiletries, fresh socks, and other donated items. And they learn how to engage in conversation.

The missionary answers questions during the trip while the volunteers walk the street. The missionary also debriefs all participants and offers follow-up help for those who need some time to process what they saw and learned. Almost all participants report that they are glad they went on the trip and many make return visits regularly.

Here is how one young mission trip participant recently described some of his thoughts on the trip:
Q: What did you like?
A: I liked that almost all of the street youth were so open and friendly.
A: I like knowing that I'm helping out a little bit.
A: I like that the street youth were interested in me and asked me some questions.

Q: What did you dislike?
A: One guy was hostile and drinking. I didn't like that, and it rattled me a little. Your training and being nearby helped, though.
Q: What surprised you?
A: I expected more hostility. I was surprised we only encountered one guy who was mad out of all the people we saw.
A: I guess I didn't realize the street youth were here before today. I buy all my clothes on the Drag and I never noticed them before--they were invisible to me. I'll be looking next time I'm down here.

"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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