Each and everyday society puts into boxes the street-involved youth that come to Hosea. These youth are daily categorized as: youth who take advantage of the system, disobedient, selfish, and rebellious. Each and everyday these youth fight to be known, fight to find worth, and fight to make a change because it can be scary. This fight within oneself can cause confusion when trying to get clean, when trying to make good choices, and when trying to surround oneself with good influences. They don’t deserve and, usually, don’t choose the life they are forced to live.

Each and every day they wake up and try to take what is handed to them and make the most of it. Still, too often we see them walk in our doors discouraged by what life is dealing them. Everyday, our staff and volunteers remind our Hosea friends that they are loved and cared about. We remind them we are here for them, we support them, and want to listen when life seems to hit hard. Somedays I know I feel inadequate on how to support them but it is in these times that we have to trust that God is at work.

Today, I want to introduce you to a young man’s story whose record would label him as a thief, drug dealer, and criminal. However, at Hosea in the last couple of months we have seen him change drastically. He is always willing to lend a helping hand. He goes out of his way to serve his peers, and has been making huge positive changes in his life. Some might say these are little steps but we say they are leaps and steps to be celebrated. This is his story:

Jacob ended up homeless three years ago after his mom’s boyfriend just up and dropped him off at a local homeless shelter when he was 17 years old, leaving him on his own to figure out what to do next. He stayed at a shelter for 20 days and then hit the streets. He needed food and that is when he first initially started coming to Hosea. When asked to describe the last 3 years of his life, he stated:

Well, I went from being naive and not really knowing what I was going to do with my life to having a kid, to getting my life together with a job and an apartment, lost all that, got into drugs. I spent 2 years messing my life up big time, and now that I am a couple months out the other end I am starting to get back to where I was pretty quickly.

It was in this time of losing it all that meth became his drug of choice. Through this he would get mad for reasons that didn’t make sense, he would stay awake for days and nothing rational would go through his head. “I was losing it, dude! I was so upset with my life and my situations. Having nothing and loosing everything that I was breaking down slowly, bit by bit, I was getting towards rock bottom.” When meth gets ahold of one’s emotions nothing can make them happy, it is in these moments that it can quickly tell a person that they should kill themselves. It was just a couple of months ago that he hit rock bottom and was planning suicide. However, something inside him told him to get clean instead.

When asking him more about this, and what has helped him in this time of getting clean, he said, “You guys have helped a lot and have provided a lot of motivation for me to stay clean.”

Just a few weeks back Jacob joined us on our first ever overnight rafting trip and to see the transformation in the way he treats his peers and those around him is a day and night difference. When asking him about his morning devotional time he said he was pretty happy, that he felt a sense of being made for more and that he felt like he has a true family.

He shared with me that he has been “spotty on and off” with believing in Christ, there have been days in his past of disbelief and feeling like God has abandoned him because nothing good was ever happening. He was hurt over and over again and after days clean from drugs he is now seeing that “I pretty much abandoned God completely for a little while and was He seldom a thought in my mind, but now I am starting to get back to seeing and knowing Jesus and that’s nice.”

Jacob is now 50+ days clean, has a job, and is seeing more and more of his worth in life each and every day. This transformation didn’t happen over night and isn’t close to over but there is victory in the small steps.

It is in these days of small victory that we are reminded to entrust these youth to the Lord. On the good days, and especially on those days when a youth seems too far out to reach. Because, in the scheme of things God is at work. God is not labeling them, so why should we? All He is saying is return to Me.

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