I have the pleasure of calling Hosea Youth Services my new place of employment. I was hired in May after about a month or so of volunteering because God is really cool and we felt like the fit was right. I met and ultimately fell in love with a group of kids at Washington Family Ranch over YoungLife College Work Week. Going into that week I had absolutely zero expectations, zero preconceived notions, and honestly was just trying to get through that week. In fact, if there were one word to describe me at that point in time, it would have been apathetic.
Strangely, it didn’t take a week, or even a day for me to see that wasn’t going to cut it on this trip. A mere twenty minutes into the car ride with this group of young men, there was an honesty and an openness that just felt different. Truthfully, exchanging life stories with a Hosea kid is typically not an activity I would subscribe to if I wasn’t prepared to laugh, cry, and be scared to death. These young people have lived a lot of life, and have scars that few of us can relate to. This group had every reason to see me as an outsider, as someone they had absolutely no relation to at all, but instead they let me in. I have never been more welcomed by a group of people in my entire life. That week was filled with more laughter than any week I can recall, and in the end I got to witness the hard work of an amazing staff and group of volunteers pay off in a major way. Three people (two kids, one volunteer) gave their lives to Jesus. It was as if there was a perfect week that God planned and placed in my lap for me to see. I didn’t work for it, I didn’t ask for it, I just showed up, and with that the Lord did incredible things. That week was a grand gesture of romance from our Great Creator, and all the invitation I needed from Him to not look back and be part of this amazing Hosea family.
College work week was three months ago almost to the day, and I will be forever grateful for that snap shot in time. Not only because those five days were so special, but because of the door it opened up to be in the lives of these kids. One of the most exciting realizations is that I get to take claim to these young people that walk through the door and down the stairs into the Hosea Drop-In. I’ve realized in this past year that’s what it’s really all about. Not every day can be a mountain top experience, but God is alive in every single second. The biggest blessing I’ve had from my whole Hosea experience is not the extravagant mountain top, but being placed in the midst of the climb. The ordinary life experiences are where I see the true romance of Jesus. The laughter outside of the cigarette bucket, the desperation to remember a kid’s name and birthday, talking about the struggle in making it from Monday to Tuesday, the pain in being addicted to drugs and desperately seeking hope, or even the love of a twenty year old father trying to provide for his young son. The big moments are not necessarily just about those moments, but what you do with them.
I’m excited this particular moment led to an invitation, and with that invitation it’s led to many more since. Three months has flown by rather quickly, and I’ve been scared for 90% of my time. Comfort is a foreign word for me at the Hosea Drop-In, and for that I’m grateful. I’ve learned so much more here than I could ever teach, and I’m excited to be a part of this amazing family.