This question and answer post was written last year for an AWANA youth group. Hopefully sharing it with all of you will help answer some questions you may have about the work that David and I do in Houston. God Bless!
1. What is it exactly that you do?
My husband and I work with street kids and homeless in inner-city Houston. Although we use the word “kids”, these street kids are usually between 20 and 30 years of age. Although many of the kids have an apartment or hotel to live in, they make their living on the street through prostitution, dancing, and/or selling drugs. Many of our street kids have had a very rough upbringing and still act like children themselves. Included in this group are gang-members, homosexuals, prostitutes, pimps and drag queens. No matter what their background is, they are all desperately in need of Christ.
Sadly, many young women are raising children in the midst of this precarious environment. Even those who want to get away from the street scene to make a better life for their children find themselves economically trapped. We provide these mothers with tangible assistance such as diapers, wipes, formula and prenatal vitamins. We offer referrals to at risk mothers for services needed, assist in crisis situations through short and long term rescue family solutions. Our goal is to break the cycle of poverty before it repeats itself in the next generation.
On Wednesday nights we host an open-air church for the homeless and street kids. This service consists of a hot meal, worship, gospel presentation, and relationship building. We offer assistance with job searches, counseling, and referrals to rehabilitation centers and health care services. On Friday nights my husband and I walk through the bar and club district of Houston, handing out waters and offering to pray with people. Despite their rough appearance, God desperately loves these kids and will never give up on them. We want to communicate that love.
2. When did you first know you wanted to serve the Lord full time?
When I was seventeen years old I heard a message called “The Broken Heart of God”. It traced God’s broken heart for His people all the way from the Garden of Eden to the crucifixion of Christ. Even though I had heard about God’s love all my life, at that moment I was overwhelmed by His love for me. It isn’t something that you can just hear about, it’s something you have to experience for yourself. I remember thinking, “God has done so much for me, that the very least I can do is to give my entire life back to Him.” So I decided that whatever he asked me to do I would do and wherever he asked me to go I would go.
3. Have you had to face any major difficulties as a result of your choice of ministry? If so, what?
I have only been in full time ministry for a year since I graduated from college and am blessed to say that my husband and I have faced no major difficulties. Sometimes it can be lonely, being so far away from family, but we both believe that we have one of the best jobs in the world. It’s a privilege to get to work together and do what we do.
4. Is there a particular Bible verse that has helped you through tough times? What is it?
“Alas, Sovereign Lord,” I said, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” But the Lord said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am too young.’ You must go to everyone I send you to and say whatever I command you. Do not be afraid of them, for I am with you and will rescue you,” declares the Lord. Then the Lord reached out his hand and touched my mouth and said to me, “I have put my words in your mouth.”
– Jeremiah 1:7-9
Much of the work that I do in Houston is “uncomfortable” and “intimidating”. I often feel too young, inexperienced, or at a loss for words. When girls tell me about the abuse they have suffered…or of being hungry and having to choose between feeding themselves or their baby…I feel like Jeremiah, who prayed, “I do not know how to speak; I am too young.” This passage is a good reminder that in our weakness, He is strong. No matter what God is asking you to do, He will give you the strength required to complete the task.
5. What keeps you motivated to do what you do?
Sometimes our ministry can be very discouraging. There have been times when I really believed that a man or woman was moving out of their lifestyle of sin, only to watch them fall right back into it. What motivates me in those times is to remember that I’m not a missionary for the street kids and homeless (as much as I love them) or for myself. I remember that I am a missionary because Jesus Christ died for me, and I owe him nothing less then my entire life. If he loved these men and women enough to die for them, then I can find the strength to love them through their weaknesses.
6. What has been your greatest success?
Seeing children who live in abusive, unhealthy homes rescued and placed in Christian homes where they will receive food, clothing, affection, and the love of Christ. It’s amazing to watch their entire lives be transformed.
7. What is the strangest experience you’ve had related to your ministry?
We have had many strange experiences! Often times my husband and I just look at each other and ask, “Did you ever think we would be doing this?” The great thing about following God’s call on your life (whatever that might be) is that it is always an adventure. Because of the nature of our ministry, on any given Friday night I might be delivering groceries to a family in the Fifth Ward or behind some fancy restaurants downtown, sharing water and granola bars with the homeless. One guy I’ve talked with quite a bit over the past month told my husband and I that he would gladly “take a bullet for us” and loved us like his own kids. That definitely touched our hearts!
8. What would you say to 3rd-6th grade students to get them motivated to consider ministry?
Fall in love with Jesus! Ask what He wants you to do with your life! There is nothing more exciting or fulfilling then living radically for God. We all have a choice to live for ourselves or to live for Him. In the grand scheme of things, our lives are very short. Psalms 103 says, “The life of mortals is like grass, they flourish like a flower of the field; the wind blows over it and it is gone.”
With such little time on earth, it is up to us to decide how we want to spend our lives. It is tempting to spend our days comfortably and to focus on accumulating lots of stuff. I would encourage you to ask yourself, “What eternal impact do I want to make with my life?” Or better yet, ask God how you can make an impact on the people around you. How can you be a missionary right where you are? I am a missionary in the United States. There are many ways that you can be a missionary in Hawaii, in your school, or in your family.
9. What are you trusting God for at this point in your ministry? What are some specific things I can pray about regarding your ministry?
For our ministry, we are praying for breakthrough in some of the Street Kids who have been coming to Street Church for many years. They know the change that needs to happen in their lives but need the strength to apply it. Please pray for a heart-change in them.
Personally, David and I will be looking for a new place to live at the end of January. We have faith that God will provide a place for us as He has in the past. Please pray for open doors in this area.