On Behalf of Danny
|Donut Fishing during our Drop-In|
Several times per week I find myself thinking about how much tenacity and patience it takes to dedicate one’s life to working with youth. That’s how often I find myself thinking of my Youth Unlimited friends: Danny, Derian, Jon, Savannah, Rachel, Amy and others who have gone before them... they might not all know it, but they are family to me.
My friendship with Danny Ferguson dates to 2009. He has walked alongside me through many of the most difficult moments of my life, always listening, praying for me and challenging me. My life would be in shambles without his friendship.
At some point in 2015, Danny asked if I would be interested in volunteering with youth at “The Hangar”. He noted to me, “it might not be your thing”, warning me ahead of time of some of what I might experience; raw and uncensored, broken families, abusive situations, self-harming, angry, confused, depressed, the gamut. Undeterred (I spent a chunk of my youth growing up in a trailer park of prostitutes and heroin addicts), I showed up. At the time I found myself newly without a faith community and I wondered if I could find one there.
Here’s what I didn’t expect: there is nowhere I have been (and I’ve been to a lot of places, and been a part of church my whole life) that reflects the life of Jesus as much as watching Danny and his team pour out their love, energy, patience, kindness – their very lives – for the youth they work with. Jesus’ entire ministry was dedicated to coming alongside the broken, going to the outcast, befriending those with no friends, loving the unlovable, the hurting, the poor. To be a witness to this and to be given the opportunity to participate alongside it has become the highlight of my week.
As I’ve spent time at “The Hangar” over the past two years, I’ve been befriended by many of the youth. These kids have shared struggles of contemplating suicide, sexual abuse, parental neglect, destroyed and crumbling friendships and more. On many occasions, I’ve asked Danny, “I have no idea what I’m doing. Why are these kids sharing with me?” Danny’s response is consistent; “You didn’t have to do anything. You showed up. That’s more than these kids get from anywhere else.” Sometimes all we need to do is show up consistently.
Danny and his team “show up” every day. Sometimes this means the difference between prison or freedom. Sometimes it’s the difference between a life of sex work or a chance at a normal life. Sometimes it is literally the difference between life or death.
When you “show up” by offering financial or other support to the youth workers at Youth Unlimited in Langley, this is what I encourage you to remember; you are not supporting an abstract organization that pushes paper around. Instead, you are providing youth workers with the means to be the living Jesus to broken and hurting youth. I know this is true, not because someone told it to me in a newsletter, but because, by the grace of God, I have the joy of watching it unfold before my very eyes.
- Dan Wintschel