Monday, December 01, 2008

S.A.Y. Yes: Pico Union

(Birthday party)

I'm not sure how clear I've made my ministry out to be on this blog yet. I'm currently an intern living in a community house owned by the First Evangelical Free Church of L.A. Our church and community house (the Nehemiah House) are located in Pico Union, just blocks from downtown Los Angeles. We have an after school program called S.A.Y. Yes (Saving America's Youth). Right now I am the senior high boy's mentor/tutor. I do things like: help them with their homework, go to their parent teacher conferences, help them apply for college, teach them how to draw, hang out with them every possible moment, share meals with them, and volunteer in our church's youth group. It may sound pretty simple, but to a neighborhood with a 70% high school drop out rate it can make a huge difference.

My work is a lot of fun, but it is work. In fact, most consider what I do to be more than a full time job. People haven't been very consistent in our students lives. Parents come and go, or they work 2 to 3 jobs. Friends move away. Teachers get a better job in a nicer school. That's why our house decided to live in the same neighborhood they do. We try to be positively involved in every aspect of their lives. It's our job to reveal Jesus to them in every situation.

One of the challenges is to remain consistent and available to these kids while the need for a more substantial income grows more urgent. I have to pay rent, and pay off my student loans. I need gas and car insurance to drive our students around. Our center needs school and art supplies, but we have almost no budget to speak of. This problem has been somewhat covered for the last year by a ministry called TechMission. Since January of 2008 they have paid me to mentor in our center. Our church is small and can't afford to pay me or our other staff members. When my term with TechMission ends in January of '09 I will have to look for money elsewhere. The question is where do I go? What job can I get that will still allow me to be available to our youth? An 8 hour shift 5 to 6 days a week adds up to a lot of time that I'm no longer here- which reminds me of a story...

There was a pastor who moved into an inner city neighborhood. He ministered
in an area with a lot of drugs and gang activity. Over time he developed a relationship inside
of the neighborhood gangs. Everyone in the neighborhood was aware of his mission whether they
attended his church or not. One day the pastor struck up a conversation with a drug dealer. The
pastor was very discouraged by his lack of success and asked him why the gangs and dealers were
winning. The dealer said, "When little Joey walks to school in the morning, who walks with him?
I do. When Joey is at lunch who's waiting by the fence outside for him? I am. When Joey
walks home from school, who walks with him? I do. When his mother sends him to the store,
who's waiting for him outside? I am. I see Joey every day, and you only see him once
or maybe twice a week. That's why they come to me, and not you. I'm there,
and you're not."

I want to be there for these kids as much as I can. They aren't just students to me. They are my friends. Please pray that God will provide the right job, and enough money for me to minister to my neighbors. If it's on your heart to help you can volunteer at our center or click on the Donate button to the right. If nothing else, I urge you to be there for the people in your neighborhoods.
(weekly S.A.Y. Yes photo contest. I think
we were acting out a Bible story regarding a king)

1 comment:

mandy said...

Hi John,
Random comment, but not really. I'm working with a team at a westside church who was so inspired by Pico Union's S.A.Y. Yes program that they've contracted with myself and 2 classmates to do a program development design. I'd love to speak with you further and perhaps even include you in on one of our group meetings in the future.