May 22, 2014

Street Youth Tied to UT Christian Missional Community

SYM works on the Drag with street-dependent young people. Most clients are college-age and virtually all are under 30. We involve students as volunteers constantly. We have no faith requirement to volunteer.

Rethinking Christian Labels

We often have volunteers that attend churches; to be sure. But we frequently have people who grew up in church but who don't feel very "religious" anymore. It is clear that volunteers often respond to the same messages we give our clients. Christians don't need to be hypocritical or judgmental. They can be transparent and radically accepting. Rethink what it means to be Christian.

Rethinking Working Together

We also have volunteers who are of other faiths. We have people who grew up Jewish. We have volunteers who attend the local Mosque regularly. We have Buddhists who help out. We see no reason to accost their faith. However, we don't change how we talk with our clients, except to acknowledge that not everyone helping today believes in such and such. If it leads to discussion about comparative beliefs, there is no reason to feel threatened. Nor is there any need to "win" any religious debate today. We can work together and serve together without fighting. Often we agree as volunteers that any faith in something is better than no faith, hopelessness and despair.
Rethinking Community
We work in the UT West Campus neighborhood. We believe that students, residents, businesses, churches, artists, visitors, tourists, musicians, and street-youth all have a place in the neighborhood. We believe that our neighborhood would be diminished without any one of these groups. We love to see the neighborhood working together to end violence, crime, littering, hate, and more. We love to see the neighborhood pull together for tree planting, beautification, mural restoration, art installation, building rejuvenation, new businesses, new services, and more. Everyone can play a part. We think it's important to recognize that everyone brings some strength to the neighborhood. It doesn't matter who you are or what you believe. We're better pulling together than apart.