Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Street Kids at Risk

Straight F's!

Baxter had just got off the bus. His bus arrives later than all the other ones, because it comes from the elementary school way out of town, where they send the kids who have been having trouble in school.

"I got straight F's on my report card!" he exclaimed, while showing it to T-Bone, Monty, Blueboy and Alex. "I'm proud of it. I'm going to try and do the same thing next time." Word soon spread to the other kids on the street. "Did you hear about Baxter's report card? He got straight F's and he's proud! I wish I could do that!"

"Me too," said another kid, "but my mom would kill me when she got home." Mickey and Midget weren't impressed. "I could do that, no problem. My mom wouldn't care." "Yeah," said Prince, "but watch out if my dad finds out about it. He and I have the same dad."

These are some of the kids that have been coming with me and Alex to Youth Alpha. We picked up Prince, Baxter and Blueboy one Thursday and stopped by Baxter's house to get permission for them to come. Prince came back out and said, "It's all right. My mom and my other mom weren't there, so I just told the next person in charge of the house."

We're using the "active" stream from the Youth Alpha manual, which is a bit rough-and-tumble with an emphasis on games and getting-acquainted exercises. Eric and I are most always there (though I'm always late from picking up kids), and we're usually helped out by Stewart and Cyndi when they are available. We've been joined by seminarian John, who has taken up the task of cooking for us so that all the kids can eat together.

Most of the burden falls on Eric, who has a lot of street "cred." I heard one boy, Wilson, on his cell phone begging his mom for permission to go to Alpha: "But Mom! Coach Eric is there!" A couple weeks later, Wilson was able to come and he brought his lacrosse team-mates Joey and Michell. That was the week that most of the boys asked to be prayed for to receive the Holy Spirit. The girls were in the other room with Cyndi doing the same thing. The prior Saturday, Eric had led the entire group in the Sinner's Prayer.

On March 25 I did the Alpha "talk" on "Why and How I Should Read the Bible." I showed them what the original Hebrew and Greek looked like, and told them about the 'lost verse' in Psalm 145 that was rediscovered in the Dead Sea Scrolls. All 14 kids and youth actually paid attention, and many were delighted when I distributed some cool youth Bibles at the end. This coming sixth of May I'll be doing another Alpha "talk" on "Does God heal today?" I'll be including a strong anti-drug message in the talk.

Eric's ministry, Ambridge Youth Ignite (under the umbrella of Rock the World), played their first lacrosse game ever a week ago. It was the first time most of the kids had seen just how large a lacrosse playing field really is. It was touch-and-go for a bit, but ten kids showed up by game time, just enough for a team. The last of the remaining four straggled in during the third and fourth quarters, barely in time to get out on the field and play. The Google directions to get there were more or less correct, but without street signs (typical for Pennsylvania) the GPS was the only thing that got me, T-bone and Alex there on time. I would have been out there wandering around with the other lost parents.

The game began as a blowout, seven to zero. The other team was experienced and could field 30 or 40 players (they had two games that day). But after the first quarter, the Ambridge Warriors had hit their stride, and gained two of their own goals to the opponent's three goals in the next three quarters.

Eric's been working on lining up another game for us, and the team has been practicing--in the rain. Eric has cobbled together enough equipment for the boys so far, but word has been spreading on the street about the neat stuff that you get to bring home when you play lacrosse. If all the kids show up that said they would, it will be a scramble. But at least by the next game the team will have its own jerseys, and won't have to borrow them from the other team.

Please continue to pray for our Youth Alpha ministry team; for new games to play and for new moves of the Holy Spirit. It is a surprise every Thursday to see who the Spirit is going to bring that day. And pray especially for the at-risk street kids, that they will latch onto the right kind of role models and graduate not only from the street but also from their schools.

In Christ,
Deacon Rolin