Street Youth Ministry of Austin exists to know, love and serve street-dependent youth. The first step of our mission is to notice street youth. Then we must understand their culture to know how to love and serve them. SYM spends time every day with more than 100 young adults. We provide basic services, counseling, referral to services, and Christian guidance counseling. It it a privilege to know these young people.
Some supporters ask how we approach our clients about prayer requests. Many are not Christian, and most do not pray on their own regularly. We simply ask "What do you want God to do for you?" at an appropriate point in our conversations. We like this question because it places emphasis on God's provision, which is available to believers and unbelievers every day. It also puts God in an active role. Often the answer is "whatever He wants" or "just bless me." To that we reply, "That's fine, and we'll pray. But the more specific you can be, the more helpful it may be. I believe God really wants to know what you want. Maybe He won't do it, but He wants to hear it."
Another way we get into prayer requests is when we are asked for something (like shoes, guitar strings or a backpack). If we have it, we simply say, "God provided one of those today, and I'd be happy to give it to you if it will help." If we don't have the thing they have asked about, we never promise to go buy it. We turn it into a prayer request. We write it into our prayer book. And we share it with a prayer team member. The street youth have come to value that a lot. One client puts it this way, "When things go into that little book of yours, Terry--they just happen!" We also usually give them a little homily when they ask for things. We tell them: "Jesus said 'Ask, seek, and knock.' The ask part is what you just did. We'll ask God for it with you, too. The seek part means you start looking for it. We'll watch out for it, too. And nobody who wants the door opened knocks once and runs away. It means keep looking and keep asking." More frequently than not, the street youth finds the item before we meet them again, giving us an opportunity to talk about God's provision for them even on the street. And that's awesome!