SYM helps our clients, our volunteers and supporters, and our community.
Check out our ministry calendar to see every event we do!
We have volunteer positions at every event!
What We Do
This young black street youth held the Hope candle high after lighting it at our annual Christmas party. Angry, disenfranchised and somemes behaving badly, he would fit in with many of the headlines of the past year. Yet he learned to light his candle and guard it carefully from being snuffed out by all he sees in the world. Such a gesture would have been unimaginable just weeks before, but now he was leading part of our worship service. Headlines don't tell us everything about race issues.
Last month, volunteers from a local soware company brought snacks to one of our street outreaches. As they handed out the items, one of them expressed doubt that this activity had much impact on clients. Later, we ran into a client we’ll call “Brad,” who first came to us as a drug addict looking for cash. He was unhealthy, and sores covered his legs. On this day, the sores were gone and he was quick to share his testimony about how SYM had changed his life. He said he had been drug‐free for two months, and he credited SYM for being there for him and listening. This helped the volunteers to clearly see what street ministry is all about. Later on, some volunteers expressed surprise that we knew many clients by name and had relationships with them beyond
just giving food.
You can help impact clients, too! Go to volunteer.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
If missionaries could reach everyone with the good news of Jesus’ grace and love, our jobs would be easy. But somemes we cannot. Recently, at the end of a cold and rainy day, a friend led a young man, new to the streets, to see me. He was looking for a safe place to spend the night; as I laid out several options, he found reasons to decline each one. He didn’t look like an addict, but I could tell he was affected by a mental condition. I asked about his family and friends. His mother was dead, he was estranged from his dad, and his sisters lived out of state. He considered his friends “evil.” I asked about his faith, and he identified as a Christian but doubted he was truly a beloved child of God. We prayed together for safety, deliverance, comfort and guidance. He finally thanked me and left, intending to call a friend who offered him a tent. I prayed that he stay safe, find a way to surrender and accept grace, find the peace that surpasses all understanding. It was all I could do as we just stood, in the cold and the rain.
Help us serve God’s lost children. Go to donate.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
At SYM, we pray for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of our street-dependent clients. Two days before Thanksgiving, we saw an answer for one of them. A volunteer from one of our sponsoring churches cooked us a wonderful turkey dinner, and other volunteers served it at our Tuesday Bible Study. Afterward, a young client we’ll call Ashley walked up to the missionaries and apologized for some rowdy behavior by first‐me clients. “I'm sorry how they challenged you,” she said. “I feel bad because I used to be the person who tested and challenged you like that. The new me — or the newer version of me I'm becoming — doesn't do that. I sck up for what you say and do. I look forward to Bible study." It was mind‐blowing to see how God was working in her heart. Her story of becoming free from bad habits step by step has been encouraging. She also told us she had begun to pray regularly. Only the Holy Spirit could have done that. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone, the new is here!” — 2 Cor. 5:17. We're so grateful!
Have shoes you no longer need? Sharing them can make a difference in someone’s life. For delivery instructions, go to dropoff.StreetYouthMinistry.
A 19-year-old homeless traveler wearing flip-flops approached us, saying “I haven't been able to find shoes.” A few minutes later, we were walking together to the SYM office to look through donated shoes. On the way, we got to know Gage a bit and asked "How can we be praying for you?" He deflected with "I'm good." In the office he tried on shoes and found a pair that fit. As we kept building trust, Gage shared his dream of going to college. We gave advice on how to go to ACC using grants available to him. Gage got excited! As he turned to leave, we asked again about a prayer request. This time he said, “Help to forgive my father.” We talked about forgiveness and God's role in it. Within a month, Gage was in class and getting counseling for his anger! This spiritual and practical ministry was possible because volunteers take time to donate practical adult shoes they no longer need.
For delivery instructions, go to dropoff.StreetYouthMinistry.org
We hold a Christmas party for our street youth every year, and this year the theme was centered on the four Advent candles, representing Hope, Love, Joy and Peace. This client, who recently shook off an addiction, loves purple and has praying that God make her spirit that color. She now thinks about prayer more often. And here, she takes the purple candle of Hope and lights the white candle of Peace with it. She now prays regularly and never misses Bible study! She is figuring out her future.
We’ve heard from many other clients who are doing the same. We’re just a small local ministry, yet we see national and world issues reflected in our clients’ lives every day. Loving our clients unconditionally is why SYM is here all year – no maer who they are, what has been done to them, or what they are doing.
We recently rewarded clients who aended at least three indoor events in one month with a field trip to see a magic
show! The magician was amazing, and as he performed his illusions, he told how he was successfully treated for
leukemia, and he described his faith journey through that experience. As a special treat, a few regular volunteers also
were invited, and they helped chaperone. Clients enjoyed the magic show and the Chrisan content. One client gave
her life to Christ during the evening! We had ice cream afterward and talked about how to choose a church home.
Sometimes, our best witnesses are former clients. Several of these youths listened and learned. Join us by giving at donate.StreetYouthMinistry.org.
Our clients often say their life on the street is boring, so when a friend offered 25 tickets to a Cirque du Soleil show at the Irwin Center, we jumped at the chance to take a field trip. We took a mix of clients who we believed were ready to make changes in their lives, along with some chaperones, volunteers and former clients who had left the street successfully. Everyone ooh-ed and aah-ed at the amazing acrobatics and glitzy showmanship. Afterward, one client told his social worker, "I decided that very night to go to college. It changed my life." Two attendees were in community college within weeks and a third has since joined them. It was a combination of the testimony from SYM's recovering clients on the bus ride and feeling the “full-of-life" performance of the circus troupe. At least four lives changed direction significantly from the field trip! We try hard to seize opportunities like this for those engaging in life change.
The number 346 might summarize the most important thing for SYM in 2014. It's the number of times clients shared with us about steps they took forward for themselves in the areas of stability, sobriety, reconnecting with God, and finding a faith home. We don't claim credit for their hard work, but we do love to be a part of celebrating it and encouraging them.
Our definition of stability is moving toward the ability to plan tomorrow. The street may not be a bad place--maybe the best place some of our clients have ever been--but the answer to "can you meet me tomorrow" is usually "I don't know--it depends." The street is unstable. Clients accomplished 227 goals to move toward stability last year. Those include housing, jobs, IDs, medical stability, and more. It's never easy, and it's often two steps forward and one step back. But they are super strong and determined.
Our definition of sobriety revolves around who is in charge--you or the substance/action? Many of our clients experiment with self-treatment drugs, often finding benefits along with the obvious negatives. When they are ready, clients can turn addiction around in amazing non-traditional ways. In 2014, they shared 60 sobriety steps or milestones with us. We never tire of seeing what happens when addiction loses control of a young life!
Reconnecting clients with God is our specialty--our one skill that sets us apart. We listen, we encourage, and we coash as they explore what it means to believe in God, to talk with God, to listen to God, and even to surrender to God and find new life. In 2014, clients achieved 43 goals that ranged from recognizing ongoing sin, becoming Christians for the first time, commencing regular Bible reading, and finding church homes for worship and Bible studies! Christians are know among our clients for helping the poor. But there is no mightier way to help someone that to introduce them (or reintroduce them) to life in Christ.
God moves mightily among our clients. One of the ways he does that is through the loving eyes, smiles, hands, and words of our volunteers. Another way he moves is to crash our plans for ministry and put better plans for the day before us, giving us the opportunity to listen to the right clients, tell the right stories, and encourage the right actions. "To know, love and serve" is what we get to do together so that many may come to know Christ better and a witnessing community is formed on the street and wherever clients may go from there.
The "The 5 Love Languages" is a great book for relationships. I was recently reminded by the pastor at Covenant Presbyterian Church that people have prayer languages, too. Some prefer silent prayer. Some prefer praying alone and aloud. Some sing. Some dedicate blocks of time and other pray in short stolen moments between tasks. Some pray driving, or running, or meditating.
Our prayer walks are a chance to walk through the neighborhood we serve. We have chosen 8pm on a Wednesday night because is a very quiet time. Most neighbors are gone. The sun is down (but it's well lit as an urban landscape). The day is done and a new day will come tomorrow. That's the setting for our prayer walk.
We begin at one partner's church location. We explain what happens there and how to pray. We'll ask if anyone wants to pray for the site and activities that will take place there. Then we will walk together along the sidewalks of Guadalupe to a new place.
As we go, we may point out places where people celebrate. Or where people beg. Or where people suffer. Participants will no doubt offer some prayers silently as we answer questions.
We'll stop at locations important to our clients. Businesses that help out. Businesses that are sometime troublesome. We'll offer prayers for the neighborhood.
We'll stop at a place where clients gather in the evening. They will greet us and say hello. They may offer some prayer requests and we can pray with them. We may just have conversation in the calm still evening.
As we walk back to our starting point, we'll answer questions and make suggestions for continued prayer for the community. It's a great way to get to know us and what we do.
Sign-up at our Corporate Prayer Walk page.
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