I have been with OIM for just over a few months. In my role as the new Youth Program Coordinator, I run the Arts program for street-engaged youth between the ages of 16 and 32 on Wednesday and Thursday evenings.
Some of the youth in our program are a part of the LGBTQ+ community, some have struggled with substance abuse, a few have been in and out of prison, most of them (if not all) struggle with mental health issues. All of them are people. All of them are masterpieces created and loved by the Almighty God. Reading through the Bible it is clear that God loves those in need and that we are to love them as well (1 John 3:16-18, ESV).
By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him? Little children, let us not live in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
I am a part of a wonderful team of staff and volunteers who love God and love these youth. I have been extremely blessed to get to know these youth and begin building relationships with them. They tell me stories about their past and current situations with regard to work, housing, or other personal matters. Sometimes these stories are truly heartbreaking. Sometimes I’m not really sure what to say but I know it helps to just have someone there to listen. I have also gotten to share with them in their excitement as they reach goals such as obtaining a driver’s license, buying a car, or get offered an internship placement.
At OIM we try to meet physical needs as best we can, but we don’t stop there. We can give someone a sandwich and a water bottle; or in the Arts group we provide a hot meal (through volunteers on Mealtrain). But as much as these needs are hopefully being met, we want these people to know that they are loved. We want to be able to provide an ear to listen. We want to encourage them to develop goals and help support them in taking steps to seeing them reach those goals. It doesn’t matter who they are, or what they’ve done. God commands us to love our neighbours and to help those in need (Mt 22:39). I am extremely grateful to be a part of a ministry that takes God’s commands to love seriously.
~Jordan, Youth Program Coordinator