Dec 28, 2014

2014 Highlights in Review

2014 SYM Top Ministry Moment #10: Prayer Walks
We stop to pray with clients we encounter. This volunteer prayer walker met up
with this client for a short jam session and prayer exchange.

We began monthly neighborhood prayer walks this year on Wednesday evenings at 8 pm. It was the brainchild of a couple of our volunteers. The day is done in our neighborhood by 8 pm, and everyone is relaxed. We stop at important locations needing protection and at churches that partner with us, and we chat briefly with clients we meet on our way. It's a super way to get to know the ministry in an hour. Jesus is the cornerstone at SYM, and prayer is the foundation on which we stand.

Click to learn more about reserving your spot for an upcoming prayer walk.

2014 SYM Top Ministry Moment #9: Volunteer Orientations
We love introducing groups to our ministry. This group of college students has
been doing about half our food recovery on Saturday mornings all semester.

Every month we have begun providing a quick but power-packed hour orientation for volunteers who want to serve our clients better. By sharing an overview of who are clients are, what we do, and what our goals are in serving them, we can all pull together better. Volunteers learn who they will interact with as staff and volunteer leaders. The successful format was the summer project of our intern, Tommy Williams. Everyone leaves with a first assignment selected. Jesus is the cornerstone of SYM, and volunteers are the columns holding the place up!

Click to learn more about reserving your spot for an upcoming volunteer orientation. We would love to host one at each of our partner churches in 2015!

2014 SYM Top Ministry Moment #8: Tommy as Intern
Tommy jokes with and encourages our clients on the streets.

We were so lucky to have Tommy Williams as our intern this summer from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He brought such energy, commitment, and fun to the ministry. He studied leadership at SYM in order to be able to better lead some future urban ministry when he completes his pastoral degree. He was lovingly supported by family, APTS friends, and members of his home church, Dripping Springs Presbyterian Church.

Click to learn more about our internship program. Our goal is to attract 100 talented young leaders in 10 years and train them in urban poverty-informed leadership. We believe that will help change the world!

2014 SYM Top Ministry Moment #7: Job Club Begins
We talk through searching for a job and then keeping the job in a
relaxed atmosphere at every job club meeting.

We launched a successful pilot of a new program called Job Club to fill a couple of voids we observed. At each hour-long club meeting, we first walk one person through our hope-filled job search method. Everyone learns it but it's a group activity to help one chosen person by example. In the second half, we role-play challenging situations that come up in the first few weeks of a new job. We have learned that these challenges are the primary reason for clients quitting jobs. The pilot was a big success. The program will be back in 2015 with some tweaks. We always need spirals and nice pens because every club member creates or updates a job search notebook.

Click to view our new wish list on Amazon, which contains a few supplies needed for Job Club. You don't have to purchase from Amazon and we are happy with used, but this is a convenient way to communicate our needs and keep up with inventory.

2014 SYM Top Ministry Moment #6: Last Prayer Time at CHOP
C.H.O.P. times were always good times, with food, prayer instruction, and sharing.

We held our final prayer time at "the CHOP" on Dec 15. They are moving and we are unable to follow into the new building (due to owner concerns about homeless people). We held our first prayer concert there in Sept 2010 and are so grateful to our friends at Campus House of Prayer! Atheists, the disheartened, addicts, and all manner of clients have found peace at "the CHOP" in our weekly prayer concerts, rediscovering an authentic way to approach, talk to, and listen for God in their lives. We are seeking a new location in West Campus where we can be good neighbors and hold our Monday prayer time at 11 am weekly in 2015.

Click to see what the clients at our very first prayer time wrote and shared in September 2010! It's on our ministry Facebook page.

2014 SYM Top Ministry Moment #5: College Textbooks
Textbooks are essential for passing classes; we love for our clients to succeed!

We are constantly encouraging clients to "look up" and realize that they were made for more than just getting by. Often that means getting jobs and settling down, but is also sometimes means going to college. We watched for a few years as clients struggled to get together funding but failed classes because they cut corners on buying books. We discovered that no one fills this gap for clients, and we are delighted to help those attending college with textbooks. We have students at UT now, graduates from ACC, and students at ACC!

2014 SYM Top Ministry Moment #4: Turkey Grab
Former clients who are now stable, housed, and working were able to pick up
turkey dinners to make for themselves and others!

We do a lot for clients on the streets, but we also keep up with clients who are recovering from their street dependency and are now stable, housed, working or going to school, and doing great! We encourage those clients to come to our Wash Nights to stretch their budget dollars a bit with free laundry and to check in with us. And we provide those who can cook with the fixings for a great Thanksgiving dinner at our annual Turkey Grab. Many actually gather friends from the street and share the meal with them. We are so grateful to our awesome friends at Austin Ridge Bible Church who make this event possible. We're so proud of the changes our clients make in their lives!

Click to learn more about all the events we provide for our clients.

2014 SYM Top Ministry Moment #3: Cookin It Up
"I can't believe we made this -- and it looks awesome!" We often hear those words from clients and volunteers alike at our summertime cooking events.

One of our goals with clients is to show them that fellowship can be fun and safe. One way we do this is our "Cookin' It Up" event where we provide groceries, and teams of volunteers and clients cook a lunch together. It's really fun to watch each week as shyness and doubt turn to willingness and then amazement at the conversations and great food produced together. The summer-only events are always fully booked.

Click to learn more about our opportunities for small groups to volunteer with us. We love our missional communities, youth groups, and other small groups that come together to help us regularly!

2014 SYM Top Ministry Moment #2: Christmas Party
Clients pause to listen to instructions before the room explodes into
activities for everyone at our Christmas party!

Lots of ministries do lots of things for Christmas. Many of our clients attend at least three Christmas celebrations. We make ours unique by focusing on relationships and activities. Fifty clients met at All Saints Episcopal Church this year with 37 volunteers for four hours of fun, food, and conversation. They all played an icebreaker game together, had a fantastic taco bar dinner provided by Daughters of the King, sang carols together, and then participated in more than a dozen activities that ranged from decorating cookies, driving remote-controlled cars, sharing music or poetry, writing Christmas cards to friends or family, selecting items from our clothing chest, book noor, or dumpster dive (small prizes). At the end, participants received an MP3 player donated by supporters! There is nothing like seeing people of all sorts of lifestyles mixing together in fellowship and love at our Christmas party. Plan to be there next year!

Click here to see that Christmas party album. It's on our Facebook page.

2014 SYM Top Ministry Moment #1: Stephen Joins SYM
Stephen with his wife, Callen. They bring so much to Street Youth Ministry for God's glory.

The top event of 2014 is something we have prayed for a long time: that a street youth might return one day as a believer to help in this work. The prayer has been answered in Stephen Husband. He once was a street youth in deep trouble, but he stabilized his life, formed a personal relationship with Jesus, found a church community, and got married. He started an an intern on June 1 and successfully completed his training two months later. He has joined us as a missionary journeyman, a terms that means he plans to be in training with us for two years. Stephen has been a fantastic asset this fall and is an amazing advocate for our clients. And he's becoming an effective evangelist as well. One client approached him saying, "I want this faith that has worked for you. I need it." Our hearts leap for joy at this thought! Stephen is responsible for raising his own living wage through the ministry.

Click here to read more about Stephen's work and to consider a financial donation to support his calling. We'd also love to get him some speaking engagements with local churches to hear his awesome story.