A Concert of Hope
Last Thursday was the National Day of Prayer.
I got a special treat, and I believe I observed an historically significant event in the street youth community around UT.
Planning a Fellowship
35 Christian students from UT planned and executed a fellowship party for the street youth who live near campus. They came together for an hour of prayer and worship first and then they took over a parking lot.
They set up a music system and two young men provided music for the evening, playing wonderful praise and worship songs during the entire event. The students gave me the opportunity to share my passion for the street youth at the beginning of the event as a way to send them to the streets.
Taking a Risk
The students sought out the street youth throughout the neighborhood and invited them to come to the parking lot and eat with them. The students were a bit nervous, and it was awkward at first.
The street youth were also skeptical at first, but one by one they came. The young people sat in small groups on the ground and ate together. They talked and engaged.
I sat on the edge of the parking lot to observe, to pray, and to help make sure everything was safe. The UT students did a great job! Some street people came up cautiously but were very quickly welcomed and brought into a group.
As I watched and prayed, I heard talk about music, movies, and sports. I heard stories about coming to Austin shared. I heard lots of much needed laughter! I heard faith stories shared. I heard stories about church exchanged.
A couple of the street youth joined in with the band, sharing guitar and harmonica music with the group. The students and street youth spontaneously burst into dancing and clapping to the the music.
Grass Roots Strength
I believe this was significant event in the west campus neighborhood. As far as I know, never before has a group of students so large taken the initiative to begin to love their neighbors in this way. No pastor led or urged this event. No particular church or ministry was in charge or sponsored it.
Street Youth Ministry did not orchestrate this day. It came about because student leaders, who are deeply changed by their healing and saving relationship with Jesus Christ, have grown tired of how the homeless are treated and ignored near campus.
They want to see their neighborhood changed. And they are doing something about it, putting their faith and love into action.
You’re Invited, Too
What a wonderful treat for me to see! I look forward to working with many of these students as volunteers for Street Youth Ministry, but I also look forward to seeing how their group grows and continues to find their own ways to minister. You can join their FaceBook group, called Hope for the Homeless, now 68 members strong.
And if you want to come out and see what a community formed from the homeless who stay around campus and volunteers might look like, you’re invited to drop by the Street Youth Ministry Block Party, Sunday May 15, 3-6pm around the statue of Bevo in back of the Co-Op.
There will be free food, drinks, music, activities and more. Admission is the donation of a (clean, new or gently used) pair of socks.