Hi my name is JJ Halemeier and in March I accepted a job working for Hosea as their new Director of Human Resources to be started after I graduated in June. When offered the job position I was extremely excited and humbled by the opportunity this job presented. I have been at Hosea for the last year and a half working as an intern through the University of Oregon Family and Human Services program and I am just blown away by the ways the Lord has been moving in this organization.
The first time I walked into Hosea I was nervous, didn’t know what to expect, felt unsure how to relate to youth from such a different background, and I felt completely out of my league. The thing I quickly learned is it is in these times if you rely on the Lord he can move mountains. He can make the times you think you could never relate to a kid some of the most powerful conversations. When we are the least prepared, if we lean on our mighty GOD and allow space for him to come in a fill the gap of our own inadequacies, a cool thing happens: you get to see just a little bit more about how sovereign our God is. When we rely on God to lead a conversation he can take it to anywhere he wants it to go. It is in these times a cool connection can happen, one not planned but perfect.
I learned early on that so often these youth go unseen. People walk by them on the streets. They are ignored and looked down on, misunderstood and alone. One youth described it this way, “I just want to be seen. To be noticed. But most days people just walk by me on the streets as if I am a brick wall.” I have learned the midst of my own insecurities and inadequacies the Lord shows up big in the simple things. While looking them in the eye during a simple conversation, asking about their day, listening to pieces of their stories. The Lord shows up in it all.
Our world tells us what these youth are the least, that they are too far gone, that they don’t deserve a second chance. Jesus shows us something different. We are to love the “least”, that we are to treat them better than we would ourselves. Too often we fall into a place where we don’t do this. I still struggle with this, but let me tell you that these so-called “least” in our world’s view I have seen to be some of the most creative, loving people I have ever met. Some of the things I have seen these youth do for their “street family” amazes me. They are hungry but decide to give food to a friend first, they jump in to help carry someone’s bike up the stairs, they offer to cleanup someone else’s mess that left in a hurry. They have taught me more about what it means to be the hands and feet of Jesus then they probably know. For this I am grateful.
One thing I have learned is that these youth are some tough kids. In the midst of tremendous amounts of pain they experience daily they still, somehow, put a smile on their face. These kids have faced more in their lives than most people will in a lifetime. They struggle with addiction, poverty, homelessness, and loneliness. I have seen the struggle with giving up a child because he/she knew they could not provide for their baby’s life. The struggle with learning how to be a mother or father without ever having a healthy example in his or her own life. The struggle to trust. The struggle to know how to get out of an abusive relationship because it is the only thing they have known. The struggle with wanting to take their own life because they feel worthless. The struggle to fight against ones own flesh when temptation is knocking at the door. I say all these things because they are true. This is the reality of our kid’s lives. It breaks my heart. But there is HOPE. The Lord is walking with these youth through their struggles and it is our prayer at Hosea that they will know truth in these hard times. That they are loved, that they are beautiful, that they are unique, that they are strong, that they were created for a purpose, that they are worth more, that they are made in the image of something bigger, that they are forgiven, and that they are chosen.
These youth have taught me more than I ever expected. They have taught me patience, what grace looks like, and they have allowed me to see new sides of our Lord. I see potential in these youth and that is why I love this work and am pumped to get to work with a great group of people who see this too. I love it because you can’t do it without the Lord, everyday you have to humble yourself before the Lord and ask for courage and strength. I have seen the Lord change youth, staff, and volunteer lives. It is in these moments I stand amazed because He can work everything for this glory. He is bigger than what our preconceived notions of what we think life should look like. He is Abba Father, creator of all things and every person in this world gives us a little more insight into how big and creative our Lord is. He is good!