The 11's

Wednesday night programs

By the end of the school year, our drop-in program had become too well attended.  This may sound like success but with such a high number and the demographics of the youth it was overwhelming. The energy needed to maintain safety, coordinate details like food and transportation, as well as, being attentive to the myriad of needs of the youth would leave us exhausted and irritable. It was beginning to affect the morale and unity of the team.  

In times like these, it’s best to go back and look at things from the beginning, when Jesus first inspired generations of Christ followers to go and engage in this mission. Here are his words:

‘Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go.  When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the father, and of the son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you.  And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.’

Firstly. It says there are eleven disciples.  I find this brings much comfort as it reminds me of all the hurt, pain, grief, betrayal and denials that this group had gone through.  Yet Jesus didn’t wait until they had everything sorted out to show up. He knows about the small details. The 11’s. The suicides attempts, the wheels coming off the youths’ lives and our exhaustion.

Secondly. It was in Galilee that Jesus called out to them, after a miraculous catch of fish, to drop their nets and follow him. They were filled with hope of the fulfillment of God’s promises of freedom to the Jews from the Romans. Where they ended up was a complete different place than they expected. Jesus needed them to make the journey to show them that these painful experiences made them prepared for the mission ahead.

In the midst of our pain and struggle, it felt like we were far from where we wanted to be. When Jesus died, the disciples hope for the future was crushed. But when he rose, he gave them a completely new understanding of what they were hoping for. They wanted freedom for the Jews.  He was showing them freedom for all humanity.  

For us, we needed to go beyond the logistic issues and address the deep soul matters that these youth needed.  Not drive the trouble makers away, but find new ways of helping them see and connect with us and with Jesus.  

Thirdly, this is his thing.  It may not be easy, but he has given us everything we need for the future.  He is responsible for the results.  We are just commissioned to immerse people in the fullness of who Jesus is.  Through our attitudes, our commitments to caring for even the most difficult of people, and our willingness to go into the messy places in their lives. 

We don’t have it all figured out, but we are entering this new school year with a sense that Jesus knows our 11’s. He has been with us since the beginning, reassuring us for the future, and Jesus won’t abandon us no matter how difficult it may be.  We are in a unique position with unique challenges. And for some youth, this may be the only place that they feel connected with someone that cares and that they have the opportunity to be transformed by him.  

- Danny Ferguson

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