We keep records as a ministry. It's been a growing burden as we serve more clients more frequently and more volunteers help out. We are dedicated to being a "Class A" organization and I think that means we keep count, records, and monitor ourselves closely. Every month we know our finances, our reach to supporters, prayer team members, newsletter readers and followers. And we know how many and what types of contacts we had with clients. We don't serialize or violate our clients privacy with our records. We simply record them in a prayer book. If they share a name or a birthday, we record that. If they tell us how we can be praying for them, we write that down. We share the requests with our prayer team later the same day.
Recently, a client passed away. The client has mentioned his real name in a conversation with us... something that shows that he trusted us. And we had written down the name of his dog. These things allowed us to search the Internet for his obituary after we got wind that he might have passed away through the grapevine of clients. We searched diligently and daily, hoping and praying that we would not find confirmation, but we did, three days after his death.
From there we were able to find the funeral home. We placed a carefully worded sympathy note for the parents and family on-line. We don't know what they know or don't. Sometimes grieving parents want nothing to do with their child's street life. We express sympathy, mention that we served their child, give a way to contact us, and wait. Frequently they call.
In this case, the mom called the very next morning. She wanted to know more about her son's recent travels. She didn't understand her son's decision to start traveling after three years of college but she knew. She didn't like his drinking and more recent experimentation with drugs, but she knew. She knew what drug addiction can do to people, so she simply wanted to know what her son was really like on the street.
We were so delighted to tell her that her son was sweet, respectful and kind. Addicts can lose everything as the drug takes over, but her son wasn't like that. He was the only kid to thank a donor at the Christmas party. He didn't steal. He didn't lie. His charm and intelligence was evident in his interactions with people.
The names of our clients fill 13 little books so far. But worn little books allowed us to share with this mother a little picture of the the son she lost. It comforted her. And it will help comfort his younger brother and sister and entire family. We found the day we met her son. We found the day we last met him in the pages. We found a time we were able to give his dog a saddlebag pack. We found a record of how he interacted with us over more than 15 months whenever he was in Austin.
We will miss this client. We grieve alongside the family. And we are grateful to be in ministry to all street-dependent young people who pass through Austin. And we will continue keeping records and praying with our clients. Unexpected mercies flow from the pages of our little prayer books that we would never have expected. They are worth it. Our clients are worth it. God is entirely worthy of it all.
"To know, love and serve street dependent youth."
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