Monday, June 29, 2009

Superhero masks kill

They are special. They carry talents that many of us don't understand. Skills that amaze and tantalize the rest of us. They are different. They don't really fit in. So they dawn masks that hide their true identity. Now they have been wearing the masks for so long that they don't know who they are without them. Super maybe but lonely.


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Saturday, June 27, 2009

The paradox of prayer

I sometimes wonder why we pray, after all God already knows what's going on in these situations and knows how's to respond to better than me. Why would he need my suggestion. I try not to spend too Koch time thinking about this and pray because he tells me to.

A few days ago was one of those days that I couldn't get a kids name out of my head or out of my prayers. I wasn't sure what to pray. I just felt my heart breaking every time her name when through my thoughts. So my prayer was mostly her name along with the feelings.

That night I was putting two year old son to bed. I asked him who he wanted to pray for and the first word out of his mouth was the name of the kid I was thinking of. I asked him a second time. Sure enough, clear as day. I've never heard him say that name before and definitely during prayer time. So we prayed for the kid and I walked away realizing God definitely listens.
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Thursday, June 25, 2009

At the bus stop


I spent 3 long hours sitting in a graduation ceremony today... wow. I have a hard time sitting still for 3 minutes so it was brutal.

As boring as it was though - I stayed because it is an important milestone in the lives of the youth I work with and I wouldn't want to miss it. And even though they are suppose to be all grown up these kids still look around for their loved ones and are hoping someone will be there to take their picture and tell them their proud of them.

As I left there were still crowds of people snapping pictures of the graduates. Holding up their diplomas and the single stem roses that they were give with their friends and families. There were laughs and tears as this the realization that adulthood is now eminent. However as we drove away I spotted something that dug into my heart and made it ache. Down the road and across the street sat a girl all by herself at the bus stop. Diploma and rose in hand. She had on a beautiful dress, but she was alone. Our eyes met as I drove by and she communicated with me in that gaze. "The ceremony was not pointless to me" Her gaze said clearly. I didn't know her, but I sure wish I did.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

I hate you

I hear it quite often.

"I'm fine."

yet they are so obviously not fine. So I usually quote a line from the Italian Job:

"FINE
Freaked out
Insecure
Neurotic
Emotional"

Today I heard a new one from a young lady

"F***ed up
Interior
Normal
Exterior"

I prefer honesty to this rather blatant lie and I tell youth so. And so the response I get is, "I don't want to talk about it." I'm fine with that. I just go to work talking about random things, making jokes, stirring up memories. Although half an hour later the story is being shared.

Today after that happened the response was - "I knew when I saw you I should have bolted. I don't know why but when you are around I feel the need to open up. I hate you for that." Never before have the words "I hate you" meant so much.

When the conversation ended I felt blessed to have unexpectedly earned the trust of a young person, but my heart ached for where this person was at in their life.

These shoes

Could you handle life in these shoes? Where would your life lead you if this is what you faced? Would you cling to faith? Or would you lose interest in God?

- Your parents are divorced and you have a choice between a parent that ignores you and another whom who have check for vital signs on when they OD.

- You've lost a dozen friends in death in the past year due to accidents, beatings due to lifestyle choices, suicides, and bizarre medical conditions.

- Your close friends drag you back into a hole that you just crawled out of...you know they offer escape as well as friendship.

- You watch helplessly as your friends life falls apart on every front: family, work, health, church, pets, and in friendships

- You've been having difficulty feeling accepted anywhere. You've lost school and work and when turning to God for comfort a person at church tells you that you are being inappropriate in holding hands with your girlfriend during the service.

- You've heard from God before but now when you need him most he is silent. Now you can't remember why you followed him in the first place.

- You feel as if though hope is just the first step toward disappointment

Is God there?
Is God good?
Do I care?
Why?
(...and this is just a glimpse)
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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

From the ones we serve.

This message met me in my facebook inbox this morning. I thought I would share it.

"Youth Unlimited," now there's a scary thought; an unending barrage of teens invading our malls and communities. Nobody likes the ornery, destructive and disrespectful hooligans that run wild in the streets, stealing and defacing public property. What if the youth of today were not that way, but helpful, caring, considerate, and respectful persons, eager to improve society?
Youth Unlimited has been striving to make this change locally as well as globally for well over 56 years. "Our dream is to help youth o live a healthy life emotionally, socially, physically, intellectually, and spiritually," says youth worker Derian Julihn. Derian works in the RE Mountain area with several volunteers and other youth workers Danny Ferguson and Carmen Rempel.
When asked the simple question, "What do you do?" it's either hard for them to produce and answer, or it ignites a flood of words that don't seem to fit. "Somewhere in between a parent, teacher, friend... where the adults who really care about a whole person, that's where we lie," Derian tries to describe. In all honesty, he admits that it might be better to ask the youth he works with what he and his fellow youth workers have done in their lives.
I am one of those youth, and words cannot describe what an impact the people of Youth Unlimited have made; I have never been more thankful in my life for anyone or anything. I would not be the person I am today without them. They inspire me to write songs, to help others, and have gotten me through some of the most challenging lessons in life, those that are not taught in school. One of these things is living with God, which I never would have considered without their influence, but I'm incredibly glad I did.
This is where some people may start to turn their heads; they scoff at the mention of religion and will write this whole thing off as some Jesus nuts pushing their beliefs upon everyone around them. I think it's immensely important for me to mention that these youth workers are in no way, shape, or form pushy about anything concerning God. They will give information, and help you to understand, answering every question honestly and the best they can, but only if you want them to.
The youth workers of Youth Unlimited are trained to help those traveling down any path of life, and use their personable, yet professional approach with every situation which arises. Derian states that, "unlike many stereotypical Christian youth groups, it's important to us that every part of a persons life is whole and complete, not just the spiritual part of it."
These brave and awe-inspiring people tackle the troubles haunting our teens, teaching them to be themselves in a healthier, more positive way. If you believe that helping others and shaping the future for success is a good cause, I strongly recommend helping out. Youth workers like Derian, Danny and Carmen rely on donations from people like you to do their work. If you wish to make a donation, check out the website, youthunlimited.com.
Instead of being a daunting or formidable phrase, I hope that now when you hear "Youth Unlimited" you're filled with hope for the leaders of tomorrow, who are our youth of today. I can only imagine what we could accomplish if the world was filled with people as stunning as the youth workers at Youth Unlimited.
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Sunday, June 21, 2009

Along for the ride

I met Carmen fresh out of highschool. She was young ambitious and full of spark. She had come to lifeteams (www.lifeteams.ca) because some friends of her had gone through the program and come back changed. Deeper in faith and character. She wanted that. She had be placed under my supervision in the youth work that I was trying get started in Langley. I remember all of us were stretched in our understanding of youth culture as we were overwhelmed by elementary school students in our mobile drop-in center. Fifth graders dealing with homosexuality, drugs like pot and "E", and families that were beyond broken. Our team bonded as we tried to figure out how God fit in to these kids lives. The things we learned growing up in church were clearly not enough. So we just determined to serve them and be there for them. It was during this time that we integrated older students as leaders and Carmen and Hannah lead that them. I didn't realize what would happen. After all I just assumed it would be a rather normal student leadership team, but Carmen and Hannah made a "band of brothers". Using our work of quiet service to the elementary kids as a launch point Carmen developed a discipleship community and taught these students how they were the very hands and feet of Jesus. However not all of these kids even knew who Jesus was at this point. At the end of that year those kids wrote a song about how Carmen and Hannah had been instrumental in "saving their lives". It was amazing.

We started talking about hiring Carmen, but at only 19 would she want to settle into a career of youth work? After all she is only a youth herself. Quite literally as our organization's official age range is 10 to 24. She took off for europe and figured God would give her the answer. And on tue middle of the night as she was sleeping on a train he did and he definitely said Langley.

Now they day she officially started I had gotten a call from a kid who was at a party and was having a life crisis. A girl who at 14 was sick of the life of drugs and meaningless sex. She wanted it all to stop and wanted my help. I called Carmen who came out with me in the middle of the night. We found the house where we thought this girl was and we just decided to go around the block and pray. We figured if God wanted us to find her he would let us see her. No sooner did the prayer leave our lips and my phone rang. This started our night and we saw this girl give her life to Jesus then go back to the party to tell her friends.

Needless to say Carmen and I are close. We have sat and watched several kids meet Jesus for the first time. We have drank lot of coffee together in our starbucks "office". And this weekend I had a chance to lead her in her wedding vows to God to her new husband and I signed the papers that made her a married woman. What an honor. I never would have thought that I would one day be leading the wedding of this girl I met in starbucks. Its crazy how a few years ago we were complete strangers and now we are close friends. I think that's what "church" is all about. Serving together, being there fir each other, surviving on prayer in the midst of impossible circumstances, sharing tears, laughter and special moments.

God bless Carmen and Corey. I know that God has amazing plans in store for you and selfishly I hope that is in Langley.

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Encouragement

I received this unexpected text message a few nights ago around midnight as I was just wrapping up a long day of some difficult youth work and a grueling night of admin work:

I'm so thankful to god for you and the other youth workers. You're amazing and a blessing to us all. Goodnight.

I was thankful God had used this young person to communicate some encouragement to me right when I needed it. More than that though I was thankful for this youth whom God has been evidence himself though more and more. He really us an amazing God who does amazing things in amazing ways. Sometimes when I am lucky he even includes me in the process. This is one of the reasons I do what I do.

Isn't it amazing when God communicates via text?


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Thursday, June 18, 2009

Getting in tune

We met up and we roamed around for a bit ending up in the music store. We sat in with the guitars for a long time as we tried to play together. Finally as I was jamming I asked this guy what he thought of the lick. He said it was good. I turned one of the tuning posts and put one string out of tune. I kept playing and hour looked at me confused. So i did a palm mute and it covered up the ear splitting sound. He laughed. I then put another string out of tune and kept playing my riff. Then another. It sounded terrible. I then told him I had heard about some of recent his more destructive decisions I told him that when we let things get out of tune in our lives pretty soon what comes out sounds and looks terrible.

I didn't know what to expect as we sat their in silence. Then he looked up at me and said...thank you. He realized he needed some help and guidance to do the right thing and get his life back in tune.

Now the hard work begins as we both get in tune with Jesus and start to play music together. After all i don't do everything right myself but hopefully we can help each other through it.



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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Uncle Rico

There are lots of tears being shed amongst the graduating class of 2009. More so than I've normally seen. Derian and I were speculating about this and we thought that they must be a close class. I realized something later. For many of these youth they are leaving more than just a place of seeing their close friends everyday. They are leaving the one constant thing in their lives. Every week I am blown away by stories youth tell me about the way their families operate. One girl lives with her dads ex-girlfriend and her boyfriend. Her mom is a prostitute somewhere on the streets of vancouver and her dad is an abusive alcoholic. Another young lady showed me a text message from her dad that called her a "little bitch". She is having to live with friends at the moment. A young man has stayed up countless nights to help get his mom to the hospital wondering if she'll live through the overdose. No, these kids are leaving more than school. They are leaving their families. The ones that have been there day in and day out for 13 years of their lives. Now in one fowl swoop its gone. Their lives are broken.



I think of Uncle Rico from Napoleon Dynamite who lived in the delusion of his greatness as a high school football star "back in '82". I think what are these kids clinging to? How can we give them hope for the future?

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Creating a place to share

Everyday as a youth worker is an adventure but it us easy to forget the profound things that we learn in the midst of all the business. My hope is that in the short spaces between adventures I can send out an blurb from my blackberry. This is my first attempt.

Today I had plans to go around the highschool on the last day of classes in order to say goodbye to kids for the summer. Plans changed when I got a call from a girl saying that her friend needed a ride home from school. She wasn't well and I was glad that Derian and I could give her a ride. I missed the school but I help someone in need. It was worth the sacrifice. ..

Danny Ferguson
Langley Area Director
Greater Vancouver YFC / Youth Unlimited
604-968-1812
danny@youthunlimited.com

I love being married to April

Monday, June 15, 2009

Pro Youth Worker

I'm always disappointed by whats available for youth workers on the internet. So I decided to make my work available for others to see. The hope is that I will be able to post a short comment every day as to what I am learning by working with youth. It will mostly contain stories of the kids I work with and thought that I have along the way.