Jun 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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