Streetlight youth confronted with life and death
‘A miracle is an event so unlikely as to be almost impossible. By that definition, I’ve just proven that you are a miracle.’ Dr. A. Binazir
We woke up one Sunday morning to a message from one of our volunteers that a young man (20) had died after falling down a sink hole in Mt. Gambier. Then checking our social media, we could see that yes it was true, this man Bradley whom we had met 3 years ago at Streetlight and had some great conversations with had passed away. Ben messaged a number of Bradley’s close mates and was able to catch up with some the next day.
During our time at the Elizabeth Shopping Centre, we’ve journeyed alongside youth whom have lost friends and relatives. We’ve chatted to young girls so infiltrated by a self-focused culture who have killed their unborn baby and some who were about to. We’ve also shared in the joy of young people who have welcomed a sibling, cousin or maybe even a child themselves. We’ve even met young people who have fallen pregnant because ‘its cool’, for love or welfare; something learned by their parents and generations before. What we’ve seen is that life and death is not a matter of rarity in the lives of these youth its simply ‘part of life;’ as referenced by one of the youth last week. The frequency of life and premature death to suicide, accidents, drugs or alcohol is not only present but some what expected – its happening so often. Hence ‘moving on’ and grieving is done quickly for some and for others the date of a tattoo or in our case a ‘henna tattoo’ can be a way to show respect, and a way to honour. Yet through all this life and death we’ve seen the openness and willingness for young people to grapple with life beyond this world, meaning and purpose.
Our family recently opposed full-term abortion (abortion up to 40 weeks, visit www.acl.org.au) through joining a crowd of almost 4000 walking to Parliament house. Life and death in this world has become so tangible, un-sanctified and is sometimes meaningless to many. The fact that a life can be taken, formed, given so frequently, with little to no emotional pull yet lacking a sacredness, seriousness to life itself, makes some believe that we are just ‘matter’ with no purpose, identity or soul. We’ve found a culture that lives and breathes this yet a young people that do not settle on this. ‘I felt something weird inside’ were the words of a young person just last night when we were sharing God’s genuine, love and hope for humanity. ‘There’s gotta be more to life’ is a phrase we hear often at Streetlight. Young people are searching. They’re hungry like many of us, to find the reason for their life. The fact that they are alive when the odds of being alive according to science is basically 0 means you’re pretty much a breathing miracle. You have been set apart, chosen, created by a creator because you are LOVED. Your identity is in the fact that you are here because of your creator’s desire to create you and breathe life into you. We believe this gives humanity a peace that surpasses all understanding, comprehension, its un-believable to an evolution theory yet in the heart and soul of many young people we meet, sings ever so true.
*Names changed for privacy reasons.
Honestly, Streetlight has been such a massive part of my life lately and I’m beyond grateful for every single volunteer that has been there for a chat and pushed me to talk with new people that I wouldn’t normally ever think to socialize with. Honestly, I’ve made soo many friends and we’re all a family at this point.
Much love, Kelly
I just want to say I was the first one that actually stopped for Ben and spoke to them. Since then, the support hasn’t stopped through depression, to Anni even taking me to dinner. The support has been life changing. You guys made life worth living and it was exciting to see you guys on a Thursday because you know that these people will actually listen to what you have to say. Since then I’m now 18 and have grown into a mature young lady and a part of it had to do with you guys. Do not stop what you’re doing… you are inspiring a lot of young kids. Thank you for all the things you guys done for me and I’m a changed person for that.
So I told myself to write this post not for me, but for the people in this photo (Streetlight Volunteers). I can’t imagine a better bunch of people to do this with and I’m so so glad they helped me open my heart and finally let Jesus into my life. Firstly, I just want to thank every single one of these girls for making the days something I will cherish forever, these guys are more than just people in photos, these guys are my heroes and people I want in my life for the rest of my life. This post is for appreciation to these guys for helping me find my right path and that path was with Jesus. If I am able to contact you personally I would send something from my heart and words of God to you and I hope that you guys had as much fun as I did the past couple of days. Although this may seem small to some, to me its a big step as today I finally believed that I was enough and there were words I began to hear from people around me and God himself. I don’t think words can explain how much I appreciate these guys and how much they really mean to me. I’m so glad to be part of a family and one I feel I can truly reply on when I’m at my lowest. I’m going to wrap it up because its getting kind of long but … from the deepest part of my heart, thankyou so so much.
STREETLIGHT YOUTH RESPOND TO RECENT FIRE CRISIS
Streetlight’s response to the recent fire crisis has not been taken lightly. A core element of Streetlight is to see young people living beyond themselves. Motivated by this, knowing the lives of these youth and their capacity to give back, we have put forward a bush fire response which you can read below.
- We invited the One Tree Hill and Dalkeith Fire Brigades to Streetlight earlier this term. Both the CFS and the youth were impacted as many stories were shared from both sides. Streetlight volunteers witnessed special moments of young people in the truck, hearing graphic, heroic real stories from the CFS fighting fires in December and seeing the interest for cadet-ship spark within the youth. We also loved seeing the impact our young people’s lives and their stories had on the CFS. A Streetlight volunteer commented saying:‘The CFS were impacted at how much we were here for others. They could see our love for others. As people who volunteer their time for others they were touched.’ Ben also noted that when chatting with a CFS volunteer, the CFS volunteer didn’t realise what it was like for youth here in Elizabeth and was made aware of their lives by chatting to them throughout the night. It was a great opportunity for both the youth and CFS to engage and learn about each other. A conversation is now taking place with CFS looking into having some of our youth ‘wash the truck’ as part of giving back on Saturday mornings.
- The youth along with some creative Streetlight volunteers are sourcing items to make bracelets for victims of the SA fires. The Elizabeth Shopping Centre has willingly offered to cover costs for this project and support the initiative. These bracelets will be made during the hours of the program by the young people.
- Streetlight volunteers were encouraged to join Ben in donating blood in late January. Due to the NSW fires, there were a number of blood donor centres affected hence there was a need for more donated blood.
- We were made aware that a friend had lost their home in the Nov/Dec fires. We are currently organizing a morning tea response to her and her family from the Streetlight Youth and volunteers.
HAMPERS FROM VICTORY CHURCH
Thanks to Victory Church Pooraka, Streetlight was able to hand out 10 Christmas hampers to youth & their families the week before Christmas. Ben (& special helper Zahra) along with some other Streetlight volunteers, delivered the Christmas food hampers. It was a great time to visit them at their home, meet their family and connect with them on a different level than at the shops.
THE JOLLY CHRISTMAS PARTY
We celebrated our final Streetlight in 2019 with a big Christmas Party! We enjoyed Christmas decos, costumes & sweets! Lots of youth came to celebrate the end of the year and some even got to enjoy some Obi cuddles!
VOLUNTEERS TANNA & MELINDA OFF TO CANADA!
We said goodbye to Tanna and Melinda from YWAM at the end of last year as they set back home to start a YWAM school in Niagara Falls! We also said goodbye to some amazing long serving volunteers including Ocean, (who went returned to Perth), Shaun & his wife Christie, (who took a Snr Pastor role in SA town Millicent), Cambria & Elizabeth (who returned to US). It has been an amazing time having all of these volunteers on our team and we are so excited to see where God leads them!
CHURCHES GET BEHIND STREETLIGHT
We were so thankful in December last year to be given donations from a few churches’ Christmas programs including C3 Church Salisbury’s Christmas Carols & Encounter Adelaide’s Christmas appeal. We love seeing the unity amongst churches, their heart to give and their desire to do. If your church would like to support the work of Streetlight, hear the story or get involved, please contact Ben on 0499 777 870
STREETLIGHT – ONE OF THE CORE OUTREACHES FOR YWAM SA
We are beyond blessed to know God has strategically placed YWAM (Youth With a Mission) a couple hundred metres from the Shopping Centre where Streetlight operates. Over the past 3 years, we have enjoyed training DTS (Discipleship Training School) students as they volunteer for Streetlight. Through this we’ve developed deep connections with base staff (in picture) who are super passionate about Streetlight and the youth of Elizabeth. We are excited this year as 2 new DTS teams arrive and join our team.
Mike Wardrop coordinator of the Uniting Church Intern Year and Snr. Pastor of Encounter Adelaide bought his Interns to Streetlight late last year as part of their outreach. We have enjoyed many different students from schools, churches, uni’s and small groups join us to see what its like to see the church participate in ministry in a public space and witness first hand the brokenness within Elizabeth. We are so encouraged people want to be apart of and learn what they can do in joining us to be a light in dark places. If you would like to see Streetlight in action, feel free to come along one Thursday night and check us out!
HEARING OUR HEART TO TAKE THE GOSPEL OUTSIDE OF THE 4 WALLS ON LIFE FM
Just before Ben was to arrive at Kings Baptist Youth Camp as the guest speaker, he pulled over and took a call streaming live to LIFE FM radio. We are always honoured to share what we believe Jesus did here on earth, spending quality time with people out in community with no agenda to push and no un-authenticity, but simply just being who he was and people were attracted to Him. Ben’s heart and passion to do just that was heard as he was interviewed on life FM.
Thanks to Zeal Collective & Pathways, the first 80 people youth to rock up one night had a free icecream! The Mustang arrived soon after 6:15 and the youth got straight into the ice-creams! We are so thankful for everyone who helps donate items we can use during the program on Thursday nights – so thankyou! For a list of perishable items we need every now and then, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Ben, Anni along with 8 other Streetlight Youth were invited to the South Australian, Australian of the Year awards held at Adelaide Oval. Ben was nominated as one of the top 4 young Australian’s of the year for South Australia. Ben and Anni were able to chat with Gov Hieu Van Le & his wife beforehand in Government house for drinks. Although Ben did not make it through to the national finalists (winner of that category was announced Australia Day 2020), God’s name was honored and glorified and His church was recognized in many conversations, from the stage and even on Facebook live!
On Australia Day 2020, Streetlight was awarded the community group/initiative of the year by Playford Council. Ben, Anni, Zahra & Obi, Rae, Gav & Ben’s parents attended the 10am ceremony (on a Sunday morning) at Fremont Park, Elizabeth. Christian Mayor Glenn Docherty awarded Ben with the award and we were excited that our dear friend Bekk Sellars (of Christian drop in centre ‘Hope Street’, Davoren Park) was awarded Young citizen of the year.
In all of this, may God’s name be glorified and not our own. Streetlight is not ours, it is His and we are his vessels, useful to him and ready for work! (2 Tim, 2:21)