Sep 6, 2011

Welcome to Jessi (Fall Intern)

It is our pleasure to welcome Jessi, our forth intern. Jessi comes from Kansas and is taking a one semester break from her MDIV degree plan to study with us. Our interns learn how to lead a poverty-informed urban ministry through our study together and our hands on training within our ministry. SYMs goal is to train 100 leaders for the church in the next ten years, praying they will great news ministries all across the country. We have one spot open for the Fall, two spots open for spring, and three open for the summer. Here is Jessi's reaction to her first week:
I just completed my first week with SYM and am diving into the second. I am still processing my first experiences with the youth and the ministry even now as I write; yet I hope to enlighten you with what is currently in the forefront of my mind in relation to my thoughts concerning what I experienced this past week.

Every day after ministry Terry helps me to debrief by asking, “What did you like? What surprised you? And what didn’t you like?”  So… you may be wondering what exactly my answers would be to those questions… lucky for you, answering those specific questions is the best way I can think of to sum up my first week.  
What I liked: First off, I immediately took a liking to the youth and the diversity they contain among them and as individuals. Coming into the internship it has been my prayer that God would not allow me to see and get to know the youth by categorizing their unique qualities under and secondary to the reality of them being “street-dependent”, “drug abusers”, “rebellious”, or other such “face value” things. Praise God that he has allowed me to see beneath the tough skin and culture of the street and has already given me an abundance of knowledge concerning the street culture which has allowed me to greater understand the words, actions, and hearts of each of the youths. Concerning the ministry, I like the authenticity of Terry’s approach toward the youth. He understands their needs and is bold about addressing them. To some, his approach may seem unstructured and lackadaisical, however there is truly a “method to his madness” Everything he does is for a purpose and he is constantly looking for opportunities to witness, counsel, and encourage the youth. He is absolutely intentional about every moment he is with the youth and every opportunity provided. What I liked…is that I can learn so much from Terry. Seeing the way he interacts with the youth, the respect that they have for him, and hearing a bit of the reasons for his actions has built a respect in my heart for him right off the bat. 
What surprised me: This is probably the most obvious one for me. I was warned and well aware of the reality of drug use among some of the youth. Still this did not actually become a reality for me until I heard prayers such as “God thank you for my marijuana, alcohol, etc” and “God please give me more marijuana, alcohol, etc.” As well as the constant conversation concerning different drugs and their usage therefore resulting in the breaking of a somewhat naive innocence in me. What surprised me…is how different my world is from so many others and how unknowledgeable I am about worlds and lives different from mine. What surprised me is that although I have known and practiced loving and serving others, in a way I have been ignorant to the idea of KNOWING others. No doubt, I have taken time to know people as individuals- their likes, dislikes, etc- such surface level things; however there is a part of knowing the culture, the what, how, and why people do things, and the essential “world” of others that I have neglected. I have read the books and listened to the lectures about being careful to truly teach, preach, and encourage based on Kingdom principles and consider the culture of those unto whom I am witnessing and to not teach, preach, and encourage based on “western” or “Johnson County” (the wealthy suburb where I grew up) principles or Kingdom principles warped by such cultures  and sub-cultures. Still yet, it is not until now that I have realized the importance of leaving my cultural values and ways of thinking and personal opinions behind and truly becoming- in mind, heart, and knowledge- a street youth in order to win the street youth (compare to 1 Corinthians 9:20-23).  
What I didn’t like: Finally, it was my unfortunate selfish concern of being liked and fitting in and living up to the expectations that the past interns may have left behind that I did not like. In such concerns, I have faltered in standing in and sharing the confidence of Christ and Christ in me. I have faltered in being a living example of the Gospel and have settled for portraying even a flaky image of myself. I thank God that he has revealed such things to me in my first week in order that I may, as Terry does, take every opportunity and moment at hand with the Gospel and not myself in mind. My prayer for this next week is that a boldness and security would arise in me and that I would gain the eyes of a true missionary- the eyes that see the opportunity, see Christ in the opportunity, and bring him to the surface for others to also see.  
As I continue on this journey, please pray with me that Christ would be revealed to the youth in me and in every opportunity. Whether we have met or not, I also ask that you would be bold enough in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to hold me accountable to becoming the answer to even my own prayers.
"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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