Friday, November 18, 2011

Reaching Out to Kids in Need

My friend Briana is the director of The Spot, "a safe place for youth" in Stanwood.  She and two other women, Kristi and Leslie, work full-time for Youth for Christ, "coming alongside [young people] wherever they are in life, meeting their needs and sharing the hope of Jesus," according to their brochure.

This all sounds good on paper, but it's even better when you meet these passionate women and hear of the lives being touched by the ministry of Stanwood YFC.  That's exactly what I was privileged to do earlier this week.

Leslie Hauck is the director of a new program called Step Up, and she works with kids at Lincoln Hill, Stanwood's alternative high school, helping at-risk youth develop job skills and find mentorships that will equip them for the future.  She has an office on campus, where she is available to meet with students for guidance counseling or assist school staff with office work, whatever the need may be.  Her open heart and warm smile are just what these kids need as they try to navigate a world that could so easily swallow them up.

Another group of kids in need is teen parents.  As a former teen mom herself, Kristi Foster knows how to connect with the nearly 30 young women with whom she works.  The Stanwood YFC brochure states that "the YFC Teen Parents ministry connects gained adults with pregnant girls and teenage parents in programs designed to help them make good choices and establish a solid foundation, not only in their lives, but also in the lives of their babies."  These young women find love and support in this very caring arm of Stanwood Youth for Christ's ministry.

I've spent time with Briana Gibson, the Spot's director.  To know her is to know her heart for kids and her love for Jesus.  She is passionate about working with teens.  Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Friday after school and every Saturday evening the Spot is open for youth in middle school and high school.  And each time the doors are open, caring adults from the community are there to serve the kids, whether laying out a spread in the kitchen, playing pool with them, or engaging one-on-one in conversation.  My son has spent many hours at the Spot, so I know firsthand that it is a great outreach to kids in Stanwood.

The other day Briana posted a story on her blog.  At a recent staff meeting she asked what they could do to enhance their ministry.  One of the volunteers suggested that they should always honor the Lord through the Spot.  Out of that comment came a new policy -- each time the doors open they would take a few moments to remind the teens why the Spot exists and pray.  It's not mandatory; no one is required to come into the room where this takes place.  At first the kids listened but didn't participate.  But soon there were prayer requests from the students and now they are more open with their questions about God and sharing their own lives.  As the staff at the Spot strive to intentionally honor the Lord each day, God is honoring their efforts.

Thinking about my last post, praying for the kids served by Stanwood YFC and the volunteers who work with them is one way we can love them.  Maybe God will even show us concrete ways to reach out to needy young people right where we are with His love.

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