Thursday, March 13, 2014

Empowered by mentors

Did you know that for all the risk factors there are for kids, the biggest protective factor is a mentor? I learned that at a crisis intervention training for work. I wrote it down, underlined it and have had it on the mind ever since.

I think I've known that the whole time on some level. I want to bring others along who can invest in them. I want to help their family structure so maybe they can see something different.

I find that one of the harder things in my job is when I do some activity or safety plan  where a kid or teen has to fill out a list of supports they could call on if things get bad AND THEY SAY NO ONE. I have no life lines. Zip. Everyone is dead. Or left. And I don't feel comfortable with anyone. No supports.

I have work to do, I think.

But also... shouldn't there be greater things that wreck me? I should hate that they are getting into the trouble in the first place, or the fact that they are living in near homeless conditions. I should hate that the system is broken and they haven't gotten the treatment they need through the years.

All the things.

But, I am people-driven and, ultimately driven by my hope in Christ. I'm glad for crisis management type jobs, but it doesn't fix what is already broken out there and I believe God uses people to come along side what is hurting.

More than anything else -- not to process feelings or to make you feel you should be doing more than you are, I want to bring awareness from my little pocket of life because when we each do that with our lives we are empowered to bring change to places that are hurting.

You may or may not be tired of hearing about broken things, hurting things. It's popular right now, it seems, or maybe I just hear about it and speak about it a lot because that's part of my life and my work, but I think it's valuable. Christ was about talking to those who were forgotten.

I just have to post every now and then about work stuff, not because it's anything special, but because the realities of what's going on with young people on the street like so many other problems, are not going to change unless we do something about them, and be the hands and feet somehow. We as a church talk about the orphan care crisis a lot, and we definitely should. Many of my friends have adopted and I believe in this and want to adopt wholeheartedly.

But there are also functional orphans out there and we need to do something about them.

Religion that is pure and undefiled before God, the Father, is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.

Visiting them and knowing their afflicting takes showing up and knowing them.

I know many people are fostering, and that is awesome. I want to bring awareness to another section of youth, though, who might not fit the adoption/fostering needs but may be growing up without a loving mother or father and they are in our own backyards.

They exist, day after day, and I have to wonder if they think 'this is it.' I often hear people say, 'they can turn it around!' With an exclamation point. 'They can be anything they want to be.' Try learning to survive from other kids or from the streets. Still think you can be anything you want to be? It gets me mixed up.

The Mentoring Project is a constant in the field of mentoring in our country and I believe in their work. I hope it keeps spreading, and ultimately, I hope the church as a whole works to spread seeds of hope on a generation of kids who need it. Not only can we be empowered to do something, but they can. They are stronger than most people I've met and my hope is that we allow them to share the gifts they've been given and become who they were made to be.

For so long I've seen both physical and spiritual needs in the community. It's difficult to find any one program or organization or treatment that exists to truly touch on both. How do you think the church can be a source of love for people to touch their physical and spiritual needs through these kinds of relationships?

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  1. Ooh. Good post, but tough question at the end. I think one way is probably to create and work at a community where honesty, grace, and humility are practiced. Sounds kind of difficult, but I too have to believe that through Christ all things are possible.