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Courage to Step Forward

This past summer while doing street outreach, my team and I came across a young man in his mid 20s named Ben who was leaning against a building along Bank Street. He asked us for some food and as we began making up a bag for him, one of the volunteers simply asked him how his day was going. After this volunteer had asked that, the young man began to have tears roll down his cheeks.

Ben began sharing how lonely he was and how he wanted to give up in life. My team members and I both knelt on the ground with this man. As we listened, you could hear the heaviness and brokenness in his words. There are moments and situations where we don’t know the answer or know what to say, but the Lord comes through every single time and guides us.

At Ottawa Innercity Ministries, we run an art program for at-risk youth. While talking to Ben, I learned that he was in his mid 20s and so I invited him to come out some night to our Innercity Arts program. He said he was lonely and looking for community and I knew this would be such a great opportunity for him to find that.

While reading this, you probably expected me to write that Ben showed up at Innercity Arts that following week and made lots of friends, but that’s not exactly what happened.

I continued doing street outreach every week and would run into Ben. My team and I would speak encouragement over him and other teams throughout the week as well. When I would run into Ben, I would remind him that he was more than welcomed to check out the arts program. I know it can be intimidating showing up at a social event that you don’t know anyone, but I remind him that I would be there and how it's such a safe and welcoming environment to be in.

Fast forward 9 months - I ran down the stairs to answer the door bell for our Thursday night art group. I first assumed that it was one of our regulars, but when I opened the door and saw Ben standing there in his big winter coat, I really thought I was going to faint! I could not believe my eyes! Ben sat down at a table with other youth and ate with them. He didn’t stay for the whole art group, but what gave me the most joy was that he stepped out of his comfort zone and showed up.

I am so proud of Ben for taking such a courageous step for himself.

~Marissa – Youth Program Assistant

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