THE COUCH SURFING 14 Y/O
Sometimes the stories of the lives of youth we connect with seem anything but positive, but we believe God calls us to engage and to see as He sees, not as the world does. It is through this lens that we don’t see the outward, broken, defeated… but we see the heart, value, the potential. (1 Sam 16:7)
We’ve known this young lad for since 2017 – first meeting him at Streetlight & journeyed with him as we saw him discover his own faith. However early 2019, he found Ben after school and with only his school clothes and bag on his back, he shared the neglect, drugs & abuse he’d been experiencing at home – home was now not an option and he began couch surfing at mates places – still managing to regularly attend school.
Ben did the correct reports, and with no agency/government support available due to age, we were able to find some short-term accommodation until things were stabilised.
Now a few months later, Ben has been journeying with him every since as he now looks forward to what the next steps are for him in the years ahead. With home life disrupted and the ‘normality’ of life as a teenage boy seemingly taken away it is easy to see the negatives. Through regular catch-ups, Ben is now helping him to focus on the positives, even out of challenging and chaotic situations. He is developing a lot of skills and resilience as he grows in willingness to tackle circumstances coming his way.
A BIRTHDAY AT STREETLIGHT
Koebbie was 16 when we first started Streetlight, in 2019 his 19th Birthday fell on a Thursday night at Streetlight. He came out to see us and one of our traditions is to take youth out to dinner on their birthday (when it falls on a Thursday).
To see youth on their birthday is exciting at first, but then also sad as they aren’t celebrating with family. This night Koebbie wasn’t even with friends, he was alone. He had no money for food or groceries which left him broke and hungry.
Hesitant at first he was eventually overjoyed when we offered to take him out for a meal and Ben got to share an analogy with him screwing up a $20 note and explaining its value had not been lost – that he too still had value and potential, even if he couldn’t feel or see it.
To this, his response was, “Yeah man. Actually, that makes a lot of sense.” He went away with some food for thought as well as for his belly.
Through Ben’s 1-on-1 mentoring with young lads doing it tough he has been able to see them show some immense potential. Some of these lads come from extremely broken families – with numerous step brothers & sisters, fathers & mothers.
Confusion and anger are often the result of years of brokenness experienced or sometimes even abuse. After establishing a good connection initially at Streetlight on Thursday nights, Ben approached a couple of young guys to meet for 1 hour a week and is now able to dig deeper, challenging & supporting them – speaking potential into their lives, sharing his own faith & encouraging them in school, work & relationships.
Ben has been meeting one of these guys at a local coffee shop talking through family issues at home as well as managing stress and pressures of school and work. A great joy it has been to journey together with this young lad through some scriptures and discussing them together, seeing how these faith stories can be useful for guiding him in what he is going through.
“Streetlight has brought people together. Streetlight has got me out of trouble like fights & stealing. Hanging around people at streetlight has been a good influence on my life.”
Streetlight has helped me through a lot; especially finding something to believe in. I found a group of people I could talk to and now I attend an amazing youth group every Friday night. They’ve made me feel really welcome.”
“The centre has seen a reduction of incidents relating to youth theft and violence on Thursday nights since the program started.”
– Glenn Hanson
Elizabeth City Centre