Our church youth group recently partnered with My Own Backyard, a ministry that was founded by Kathleen Murphy. She is a woman who has a passion about serving near and far with a focus on "her own backyard". She, along with Michele Hazelip, from Front Porch Ministries, organize an event called, HallaBooya, for the Nashville community. This event was created to give the kids in this area something positive and fun to look forward to near October 31st. The past two years we have made it a family event to serve. My husband brings his DJ equipment and plays music, while our son and I serve where we are needed. I had the opportunity to work the sign in table. Mrs. G, who is one of the mom's that Front Porch serves, wanted to help me. As the evening progressed, we shared our testimony's with one another. I also saw her interact with the kids who came to this event. This area is known to be riddled with gangs and drugs. There were three teenage boys that she saw walking around, she called them by name and asked how they were doing. She already knew they had been in trouble. According to Mrs. G, these boys, were not in a gang, but one of the boys seemed to be sitting on the fence. She asked each boy, how it felt to get in trouble and what were they were willing to do differently. Two of the boys looked at the ground and said they didn't like being in trouble, the one who is "playing with fire," according to Mrs. G. said, " I don't really care, it don't bother me none". She went on to tell them they have a lot to live for and that gangs can't take care of their needs and that the Lord is good and saved her, so she knows He can save them. She also told them she cared about them and invited them to come see her sometime.
Mrs. G is a woman who knows what drugs and running the streets can do to you. She is 54 years old, and most of her life was spent on the streets doing drugs and making wrong choices. She has numerous health issues and has had several marriages. She is the mother of four kids, and the "baby", is a teenage girl. She is trying desperately to protect her from the things she is surrounded by; drugs, alcohol, sex, and gangs. Through out the night I saw her talking to several kids, asking them how they are doing and reminding them how good life can be. She told me she knows most of the kids tune her out, but her prayer is that seeds are being planted within their hearts and minds. She hopes they will remember to reflect how they feel when they make good choices, as well as, the not so good choices, all the while, holding onto the HOPE that is there when we repent and make deliberate choices to change.
This is good advice, no matter where we live; if we live in a mansion, in the middle class suburbs, or in a neighborhood filled with gangs and violence, we have choices and we need to remember there is always HOPE!