Incarnational ministry. Life on life. In the thick of the mess, beauty and pain and celebration. It’s hard to do well or with any amount of grace when you are only a few trying to invest in the masses of street impacted youth. So about 3 years ago we started praying for God to bring the workers, for the harvest was plentiful. You see, in the basement where the Hosea Drop-In Center resides there are a lot of tasks for volunteers to do that help serve the basic needs of the young people we serve. Laundry, showers, meals, clothing, cleaning, etc. And those roles are significant and so important. However, it became quickly apparent to us that we wanted more for our young friends. These services were great and were absolutely serving a need, but they weren’t doing much to help move them off of the streets and into healthier lifestyles or addressing the internal brokenness, fear and chaos taking place in each of them.

As we prayed and sought the Lord, I began to think back on my own childhood. I faced similar internal issues such as addiction, loneliness, feeling lost, angry and hopeless. But that all changed for me when a YoungLife leader came into my life. Did you catch that? “Came INTO my life!” She didn’t just show up at my school and love me where it was easy and safe to do so. She really stepped into my world, on my turf. She came to my games, took me out for meals, spent time with me. She believed in my life and her actions supported her words. She made the truth of Jesus real and tangible in my life. And Jesus gave me a hope and a future. I knew that’s what our kids at Hosea not only needed, but its what they deserved. These young people have been abandoned, shoved to the dark corners of our cities and our minds and NOT CHOSEN time and time again. They needed someone to show up for them. They needed someone to think about them, to pray for them. They needed someone to choose them, not once or twice- but every day!

Around the same time we started praying about what a mentor program at Hosea could look like, we started dreaming up the Life Discovery Program. The LD program is a holistic life skills program that gives young people opportunities that empower them and address their needs in a relational, Gospel centered, hands on way. As the program developed on Thursday nights we realized this was a very natural way for our volunteers who were doing great contact work with kids on the floor accessing services, to go to the next level and really started digging into the lives of the kids that God had been laying on their hearts.

Fast forward to today. A couple of YoungLife camp trips, community outings, leadership times and many many Thursday night life skills classes later- we have 15 LD Mentors loving and investing in 15 young people from our Drop-In Center. And I’ll tell you what. Kids that have been working so hard, literally took off right around the time this group of Jesus loving adults took entering INTO these kids’ lives seriously.

These mentors make a choice every day to enter into a world very different from their own to do life with these incredible, courageous, resilient, powerful young people! We are excited to see these relationships continue to grow and watch as God takes the power of entering in and really being with one another to a place of continued growth and sustainability, for not only our young friends, but for our mentors as well.

The Word became flesh and blood, and moved into the neighborhood. -John 1:14

~Tauna Nelson, Program Director

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