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Saturday, 20 December 2014

What If It's You?

What if it’s you that loses your job this Christmas?
What if it’s you that is ashamed to ask friends and family for help for the umpteenth time?
What if it’s you who is mocked and scorned by the hardened street homeless who know you aren’t really one of them?
What if it’s you who is forced to search alone for a safe place to sleep on the dirty street?
What if it’s you who lies awake at night; cold, alone and afraid?
What if it’s you that is moved from one doorway to another by a security guard who looks right through you?
What if it’s you who plunges from normal working class to irrelevant street homeless in the space of a few days?
What if it’s you who is forced to spend your time digging through other people’s garbage for daily food?
What if it’s you who is enviously watching the Christmas shoppers spending lavish amounts of money as they walk past your dirty form?
What if it’s you who longs for a worried glance in your direction or a few kind words instead of the expressions of disdain and disgust?
What if it’s you who is too ashamed to attend a local church despite being invited due to being dirty and not knowing how to pray?
What if it’s you who believes that God couldn’t possibly accept you in your current state or forgive the many things you have done wrong?

What if you are the landlord of the person that loses their job this Christmas?
What if you are the friends or family of the person and they come to you for help?
What if you are a street homeless person and this person is forced to join your community?
What if you have a bed, sofa or floor space and you see the person searching for a safe place to sleep?
What if you are walking home and you see the person; cold, alone and afraid?
What if you are the security guard clearing doorways over the Christmas period?
What if you have spare food that you normally throw in the garbage?
What if you are blessed with money to spend on lavish Christmas gifts?
What if you are a member of a church and this dirty smelly person timidly shows up for the first time?

What if they are genuinely searching for hope?

Wednesday, 17 December 2014

It's Very Hard to Change My Life

Firstly a big thankyou to all who contributed to our Christmas Rehab Appeal. We have now exceeded our original target of £700. We will keep the appeal open for another week or so in case anyone else would like to contribute. The extra money raised will most likely go towards the library project purchasing Christian books and Bibles.I have been busy shopping for the event which is now planned for the 29th of December. Updates will be on our website

www.olongapochristianhelpandhope.btck.co.uk

As part of the planning process, earlier this week myself and Paul went to Olongapo. Our goal was to visit as many of the family members of the boys in rehab as possible to advise them of the plan and that they needed to get themselves to the Youth Centre at 6am on 29th to be included. To be honest, this idea is pretty ambitious as many of these people are hopelessly disorganised and don't usually know what day it is let alone when the 29th of December is. This makes it very hard to organise. If I was living in Olongapo I would arrange for the van to collect them from their houses to secure their attendance, as we have done in the past but unfortunately this isn't possible so we are forced to rely on their desire to see their children.

We went first to see Paul's family who are still living on the street where we left them after our last visit. They were pleased to see Paul especially now that he has brand new teeth which he was keen to show off. I was surprised and pleased to see Adam with the family looking clean and obviously drug/solvent free. He did have a nasty injury to his arm which apparently had been badly broken and re-set by a Doctor. It was still twisted with a large lump and I wondered what on earth it had looked like before the hospital visit. Despite this Adam was cheerful and wanted to accompany us to the Youth Centre where he had been residing until he ran away. He seemed to have matured since I saw him last a few months back.

We travelled to the Youth Centre and were greeted enthusiastically by the 20+ boys that reside there. The staff were also pleased to see Paul looking well as he was a resident there before. The social worker gave us access to the address details of the rehab boys but there wasn't really a lot to go on and many of the addresses were out of the area. In the end we decided it might be better just to spread the word about the visit via the staff. We persuaded Adam to return to live at the centre and said that he could accompany the families for the trip on 29th if he did so. (1 boy again off the street but for how long I couldn't say!)We paid for a snack and drink for all the boys and then left.

Myself, Adam and Paul then went to look for Simon and Joel in the Magsaysay Drive area. They can usually be found selling DVD's illegally with a group of older boys. Failing to find them we had lunch and then a slight miscommunication meant that I lost the 2 boys for the next 3 hours! This was pretty frustrating as I searched the whole area for them. However, the event brought the realisation that for the first time I wasn't worried about Paul being negatively influenced by his old group of friends during his absence as I knew that the change in his life was real.

I returned alone to the DVD area and immediately saw Simon and then Joel hanging around. Simon who was looking pretty thin, saw me but turned away refusing to acknowledge me until I had spoken to him about 5 times and then he grudgingly nodded. Joel was more talkative and said that he was doing well and everything was fine. I noted that he now had 4 ear piercings in one of his ears.

After a while I managed to get Joel alone as I knew he was acting in front of his friends. (I had received a message via a mutual friend a few days before that Joel was really miserable and wanted to come and live with me in Cubao.) I asked him what was wrong with Simon. He said that Simon blamed me for the death of Ramiro as I had evicted him from the house and he had died a few days later. I knew that Simon probably needed a place to put his grief and accepted that it might have to be wrongly placed on me for the time being.

Then I asked Joel how he was really doing and he said "not good." I told him that I had thought he had really changed before. He looked me straight in the eye and said "It's very hard to change my life." He said it with feeling and I really felt for him. I told him that it was possible as he could see from Paul's example. In that moment I wanted to tell Joel that he could leave with us for Cubao but I can't do that as there is nowhere for him to stay and Paul was allowed to stay at the church as an exceptional exception to the usual rule.

The main problem for a lot of these boys is that they try and change their lives themselves without God which lasts for a short time but without God they inevitably fall back and often into worse situations than before. I wonder how many times this has to happen before they realise that they need God. I know this to be true due to my own experience of trying and repeatedly failing to sort my life of vices out. Sadly I can't force them to realise this but I can pray for them and be there when they realise that they are hopeless and trapped in their sin without God. I pray that this happens for all of these boys before they become the victim of accidents or illness due to solvent use and then it is too late.

I reluctantly left them to resume my search for Paul and Adam. Then I saw a very familiar but slightly older looking face hanging over a railing with two other boys. It was Joshua (now 12/13) who I hadn't seen for 2 years. His face registered the recognition and then lit up as he pushed past his friends to give me a shy hug. I knew that he was back in Olongapo as we had chatted a bit online but I hadn't actually seen him so this was a bonus. He also was drug/solvent free and attending school! (he is the boy on the left on the front cover of my book)

http://www.amazon.com/Theyre-Rugby-Boys-Dont-Know/dp/1502994925/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Shortly after this I found Paul. I took him back to see Joshua but he had gone. His friends were still there and began following us around so I asked if they wanted food. I bought them some food and then encouraged Paul to share his personal testimony with them. He was shy at first but did so and then unprompted sat down with them and prayed for their food before we left. Afterwards I asked him how he felt about it and he said that he felt awkward because they were Muslim. I pointed out that he wasn't forcing them to do anything just sharing his testimony. I saw how easily he conversed with the younger children knowing where they had come from and I had hope that God would use him as a witness in the future as he has a heart to help people and share with them already.

We went back to Paul's family and took his grandma and introduced her to a local Christian family with a house church. This was really a very positive step as the family were very receptive and even agreed to visit Paul's family on the street. This church had previously received several of the boys including Paul, Joel and Simon and have been praying for them. They have also agreed to receive and follow up any of my contacts in Olongapo especially those that might be made when the families attend the Rehab on 29th as I plan to give Bibles and contact details for the church to the families that attend. This church is really an answer to prayer as I have been looking for a church that is open for ministry to the street people in Olongapo for a while due to the many contacts I have built up.

After paying for Paul's fathers TB medicine we headed for the bus back to Cubao. I was pleased to have seen Joel and Simon but Joel's pleading eyes played on my mind as I knew that had I offered to take him away from the street he would've jumped at the chance. I hope the time will come when that will be possible but I have to be patient and pray that he stays safe in the meantime. The social worker also informed me that she is processing the paperwork for them to be returned to Rehab early next year which might be a better idea initially.

Back in Cubao I was saddened to see Charlotte and Jack in the street again having returned them home after various now broken promises were made. I resisted the urge to offer Charlotte a bed for the night as it will just become a habit and I really need to meet with her mum to discuss the whole situation. Her mum should be attending the church this weekend. As myself and Paul were leaving, Charlotte began racing back and forth across the road jumping in and out of the traffic and narrowly avoiding being hit by different vehicles that slammed their brakes on to avoid her. After hesitating and watching in horror for a few seconds I had to make myself leave her to it as I knew watching was making her do more crazy things. I guess it's only a matter of time before one of these kids that I'm involved with is seriously injured or killed but I pray that it won't happen...

Monday, 8 December 2014

17 Jackets Please #rubyph #hagupit #typhoon #philippines

So the typhoon that is no longer one has hit Manila in the last few hours. The numerous prayers for safety worked, to the extent that so far I would compare it to a normal rain shower. I can't hear the wind howling either which normally makes these things a lot more scary. However, it's easy to say and write this in our brick house containing many material things that people living on the streets can only dream about. This thought has been with me (more than usual)for the last 24 hours as I watched locals prepare for the storm.

It all started yesterday evening when I was heading back from a church fellowship and saw one of my sponsored children asleep in the street. Charlotte hadn't chosen the best location to fall asleep. In fact, she had probably inadvertently picked the most dangerous and visible spot in the whole area. She was literally lying in my path as I walked back to my house at about 7-8pm. She was in the centre of the walkway right outside a building which sells rooms and various unsavoury services by the hour. Probably the only reason she hadn't already been hired or lured away is because she dresses and acts like a teenage boy. She has just turned 14.

The approaching typhoon and potential consequences of leaving her there were unthinkable so several of us spent several minutes waking her up (no easy task) and dragging her to her feet before I told her she could stay at my house for the night, but only for the night.

Today, I gave her a clean change of clothes knowing I would never see them again. I normally give clothes that I have outgrown which happens to at least a few items every week, not because I am growing at the speed of a teenager but because our local laundry shop shrinks them. Then we set out into the very dirty street to get her some flip flops as she had no footwear (again.)

After sorting this out and then searching in every shop in the area for something that I could wear to a wedding at the weekend I gave up when a shop assistant pointed out that I was now wearing my T-shirt inside out.

Walking back to my house with Charlotte in tow I noticed a large gathering of familiar faces at the bus stop at the end of the road that leads to the church. Many of the homeless people were carrying Bibles and were obviously wanting to attend our regular Monday evening Bible study which attracts around 35-40 homeless people. It starts at 6pm and it was only 230pm but the people tend to turn up very early for everything and fall asleep outside until they are allowed in.

They greeted me as I walked past and asked me if the study would be going ahead due to the typhoon. I assumed it would but told them I would check. I hoped it would as they huddled in several groups; wet, cold and shivering, some having travelled from other areas and most clad only in T-shirts or thin layers. I contacted a few people only to find that the Bible study would not be going ahead. Of course they were disappointed and I didn't know what I could do really so was about to leave, but then I saw an older lady shivering in just a T-shirt and hugging herself in an effort to keep warm.

I approached the lady and asked the obvious. She said she was cold and didn't have another layer so I told her to come with me and I would buy her a jacket or jumper. Of course I was then surrounded by several adult men who also began shivering, hugging themselves and saying they were cold too. After a half-hearted attempt to avoid the inevitable by telling them they were younger and this woman was old, I mentally calculated the cost and then succumbed knowing i would have to buy for them all. They had surrounded me and started chanting "we want jackets" or the Filipino equivalent which turned into loud cheers as I announced that we would be heading to Ukay Ukay (the nearest second hand clothes shop.)

I was a bit embarrassed as we headed along the street especially when I ran into two of my housemates. By the time we arrived at the store there were 17 people in the gang. I informed the store manager (who I already know) that each person was allowed to choose one jacket or jumper and that she could count them out as they left and I would pay for it at the end. She smiled and sat at the door to make sure that that was what actually happened, I don't blame her!

Then I addressed the motley crew patiently waiting at the entrance and in a loud voice made them promise me that they wouldn't sell the items afterwards knowing full well that some of them would anyway. (This always has to be factored into a decision to help practically but most of the time its worth helping anyway for the sake of the genuine.) After making this promise, the crowd of mostly men swarmed into the shop and spent a while browsing before mostly choosing very large coats that were too big for them but would hopefully keep them warm.

As they left and each said thankyou I encouraged them to see the gifts as a blessing from God. There was one man left who couldn't find anything to his liking probably because the quicker guys had cleared an entire rack of coats. So I went through the other racks with him only to hear him say "parang babae" (it looks like a girls) around 50 times. I told him "parang lalaki" (I think you can guess that one) but he didn't believe me and turned his nose up at everything. I was tempted to leave him in his thin T-shirt but as he was an older man I took him to a nearby new clothes shop and managed to get him a long sleeved T-shirt for just slightly more than the rest half expecting a selection of the others to come rushing in after us to swap, complain or demand the extra money. But nobody did which was nice. They were all very grateful and made me pose for a photo with them wearing their "new jackets." (Total cost = a little over £20, bargain!)

Then I spoke to the old lady that had begun this craziness and she, obviously realising that I was a soft touch, asked if I could buy her a coffee. I asked her how much and again I quickly did the mental calculation knowing it would be not one but 17 coffees...nodding my assent as I could feel that despite the jumper her hands were still freezing cold I again led the throng to a coffee machine which was out of water. We headed to a different location and waited whilst the cups were refilled. The vending machine was a slow process as I stood by the machine inserting the coins as the people chose their coffee or chocolate. Afterwards I took my chocolate and made good my escape. (Total cost = £1, yes, that's right! :)

On the way back to my house I saw a family that I met just yesterday. The girl Mary* is 21 and she has a 1 year old baby. Mary's 18 year old brother is with them. She says that their house burnt down recently forcing them onto the street. I don't know if this is true.

I noticed them because the baby was very dirty and had the start of a severe scalp infection. I bought them food and medicine. I told them about the church which was about 100 metres from where they were sitting and invited them to join us for lunch at the church but they arrived too late (which is the reason I bought them food.) I only knew they had attended the church because when I came out after the service I was surrounded by a crowd of street children desperately trying to tell me something and was still trying to piece together their bits of English with my still small understanding of Tagalog until the mystery was solved when they led me to the family who had returned to the end of the street.

I asked Mary* how she was doing feeling totally inadequate as its kindof like asking someone how they are when someone close to them has just died. Fortunately Filipino's don't say things like "Well how do you think I'm doing?? My house burnt down, I have no food, no money, and no work, my husband left me, my baby is sick, I'm living on a dirty street corner reduced to begging and a typhoon is coming."

The temptation to offer them lodgings for a while is very great but there are similar situations everywhere and I have to try and use my head not just my heart. I also have to think about my housemates who already graciously tolerate the constant arrival of various street children that show up invited and uninvited. I will take the family in temporarily if the storm gets worse but at the moment it is relatively calm. I hope they will use the connection to come back to the church as that is where the real help is.

Maybe you are wondering what happened to Charlotte* who kindof got lost in the mad rush of homeless people to the used clothes store. She turned up at my house at around 5pm with Jack* who smelt really bad. After noting that they both still had the flip flops I had bought them (and made them promise not to sell) making them both have a shower and giving Jack clean clothes, we sat down for a serious talk. I spoke to one then the other and convinced them (after tears) that they must return home to their own families knowing that what awaited them might not be pleasant but seeing no real alternative other than leaving them on the street to brave the bad weather. Interestingly Jack's main concern was whether he could still attend the church on sunday which warmed my heart as I promised to pay his fare if he were to do so.

I then sent them to buy food at a local street stand which I wouldn't have done a few months back as they might have disappeared with the money but Charlotte has proved trustworthy and once again reliably brought me some change. I then escorted them to a Jeep and paid the driver directly to take them home (one hour away.) As I did this I knew that they might just get off a few hundred metres down the road and head back to the street but that's when it's time to let go as I can only do so much. I prayed that they would go home as Charlotte has been away for a week now and Jack at least a month.

Sometimes I wonder how much detail to include here as it might read as a Florence Nightingale type story. I hope you can see beyond this and know that I include these details because I am so grateful to you the supporters of Olongapo Christian Help and Hope (www.olongapochristianhelpandhope.btck...) for your faithful giving. How frustrating and discouraging would it be if everytime I was moved to compassion by some poor needy soul here I had to walk on by because the funds weren't available to help them. Thankfully this has rarely been the case and when I do walk on by it is because it is not the right time or there is a need to get to know someone first rather than due to a lack of funds. I also hope these stories will encourage you to pray for those less fortunate here in the Philippines and that the stories assure you that your money is being used in many ways to make a small difference to a few individuals each of which is known and loved by God.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

The One That Said Thankyou

Jack is 13. He was previously using solvents but hasn't done so for a while. I met Jack when he came to my house with Charlotte(one of the girls that stays regularly)about two weeks ago. He ia always very dirty with holes in his clothes as he is sleeping on the street. Jack accompanies me (and Charlotte) to Sunday school at 9am and the main church service at 1030am. I hope that he would be allowed into our church if I wasn't there to accompany him but its difficult to know as an unaccompanied child without shoes and with dirty holey clothes may sadly be turned away at the door of any church these days.

In church, he sits next to me mostly quietly and listens to my instructions. He tries to sing the songs and looks at the words when we are reading from the Bible (a tough task as it's in English!) He seems to be listening to parts of the message which is a definite improvement on the other children that sometimes accompany me, as documented before. Sometimes he falls asleep but at least tries to stop himself by sharply jerking his head backwards and forwards which tends to make me laugh. Having him there is an unintentional test for the church as some are moved with compassion as they hear his efforts to sing and others (i'm sure) still see him as a dirty abusive street child who doesn't belong there.

Jack is always pleased to see me in the street and rushes forward greeting me with a friendly smile and calling my name. He appeared last week in his holey, dirty clothes with terrible grazing all over his face. He said he had collided with a tricyle (motorised with side cart.) Then I saw him sleeping on the edge of the pavement in the central island of the main road in Cubao. He was just inches away from the traffic and could easily have rolled into it. Later that day I again saw him sleeping alone but in a safer place this time.

For some reason Jack's general appearance and friendly innocence tugs at my heart (more so than normal :)and I hate to leave him on the street but there is no alternative for him at the moment. He walks with a strange gait which makes him stand out from the other children. Last week whilst sitting next to him in his holey, dirty clothes at the end of the church service I sensed his lostness and unhappiness although he tries to hide it with a smile. I told him that Jesus loves him and cares about his life and problems. He looked at me to see if it was true and I assured him it was. I could see he took it to heart and hoped it was true.

There is obviously some sort of problem with his family but he won't talk about it and his friends say he doesn't have a house to go home to.

Tonight he attended the drop-in Christmas party, came rushing straight up to me with a big smile and totally knocked me for six by saying "Ate (sister) Natalie, can I please come to the church service with you on Sunday because of my sin..."

Afterwards, I reflected that although he is probably mistaken theologically as in his mind he thinks of church as a place for confession due to Catholic teaching, maybe his childlike understanding of the reasons for going to church (and needing a Saviour) are more advanced than the masses who dutifully head that way every week. Certainly by recognising his sinfulness and wanting to do something about it he is making progress..Actually I was amazed that a child wanted to attend the main service as I have to virtually drag Charlotte in every week and the others are sporadic in their attendance. Once inside it's often difficult to keep them there as they disappear for 5 minutes here and there to chat with friends outside or take extended breaks in the bathroom.

At the end of the party tonight the children were all given a small gift bag and Jack was keen to show me his as he tied the top closed carefully for later.

I realised at that moment watching him that it was the gratitude factor that had moved me again. Surely these are the helpless and hopeless that Jesus spoke about. Most people we help are assuming and take things for granted. But occasionally there is one that comes back to say thankyou and this time it was a child.

Pray for Jack* I can't stand to see him sleeping alone on the street every day and its only a matter of time before he is drawn back into solvents.

I hope this hymn will help us all to remember what a debt of gratitude we owe to God for having mercy on us. I am blessed to hear great hymns like this at Cubao Reformed Baptist Church week by week.

1. How sweet and aweful is the place
With Christ within the doors,
While everlasting love displays
The choicest of her stores!

2. Here every bowel of our God
With soft compassion rolls;
Here peace and pardon bought with blood
Is food for dying souls.

3. While all our hearts and all our songs
Join to admire the feast,
Each of us cry, with thankful tongues,
“Lord, why was I a guest?

4. Why was I made to hear Thy voice,
And enter while there’s room,
When thousands make a wretched choice,
And rather starve than come?

5. ’Twas the same love that spread the feast
That sweetly forced us in;
Else we had still refused to taste,
And perished in our sin.

6. Pity the nations, O our God!
Constrain the earth to come;
Send Thy victorious Word abroad,
And bring the strangers home.

7. We long to see Thy churches full,
That all the chosen race
May with one voice, and heart and soul,
Sing Thy redeeming grace.

ISAAC WATTS

Monday, 1 December 2014

Drop-In Dilemma


At my church here in Cubao (Cubao Reformed Baptist Church) we have a weekly drop-in centre for the street homeless people on Thursday evenings. I have mentioned this a few times before as it is one of the main activities that I am involved in.

Over 100 people attend including many children. They are given soap and can take a free shower and wash their clothes. They can also see a Doctor. Later on in the evening they are given a meal and after this they hear a Christian message. The children and adults are separated for the message for obvious reasons. There are 15-20 regular volunteer church members who desperately attempt to keep order throughout the evening.

One thing that surprises me is that everyone wants to stay for the message, although some do fall asleep. I'm always half expecting people to head for the exit or make an excuse to leave after they have eaten but the only ones to occasionally try this are the "rugby/solvent" boys.

Last week I was encouraged that Paul wanted to be involved as a volunteer. He was really very helpful in the kitchen and later with translation when I was talking to some current rugby boys. I asked them if they wanted to enrol in Paul's school for a few hours a week. It's called the "Alternative Learning Syatem" (ALS) for teenagers that have missed a lot of school. The two brothers who are regular drop-in attendees wanted to enrol so I arranged to meet them at the church with Paul the next day. I was in a meeting that overran at the appointed time so was over 30 minutes late. I hurried to the ALS centre only to find that Paul had collected the other two boys from the church, taken them to the school and helped them enrol already! They really didn't need me, so I left feeling encouraged.

Paul has a big heart to help others and even when he was solvent addicted and on the street he always shared everything he was given. That is one of the problems we have faced more recently as he is desperate to help his family but they were too much of a burden at his young age. When walking with him around Cubao he always encourages me to help the teens and other street homeless. I believe he could be a strong witness for God in the future. He needs your prayers.

This saturday we will be heading to Olongapo for his first visit since he left. I hope that it won't be too disruptive for him as he is settling now in Cubao but I did promise him we could visit after 3 weeks. He had to stop working at his painting job as it was stirring up lung problems that he struggled with in the past and as it was with solvents it wasn't really ideal. We are hoping to find him other part time work. The church have said he might be able to help with the construction of the boys home for CCM which is due to begin in January.

"Olongapo Christian Help and Hope", our charity

www.olongapochristianhelpandhope.btck...

have big plans for the Rehab in Taguig this year. We hope to transport 2/3 family members of each Olongapo boy to visit them during Christmas week. We also hope to give all of the children at the centre a meal and small Christmas gift as well as providing Christian books and Bibles for a library project at the centre. Please see our Fundraising webpage, we are halfway there already!

https://mydonate.bt.com/events/christ...

You are probably wondering what the title is about as there doesn't seem to be much of a dilemma yet!

Many of the attendees have been attending the drop-in since its commencement 11 years ago. They announce this proudly to all and sundry. But my first thought on hearing this was; "What has changed in your life since you began attending?" They are hearing the Word of God faithfully preached every week but many of these people are in exactly the same position they were in 11 years ago. Many of them are happy and comfortable with their street lives and lack of employment and don't see the need or haven't the motivation for change. Some will always be like this as the Bible makes it clear that many will reject God's salvation, but there is hope for others.

A few months ago Romey began attending the drop-in after I met him on the street near the church and invited him. He was 22 years old and found himself on the street due to family problems. He started enthusiastically attending every meeting. He was given a Bible and was avidly reading it. I approached the church about helping him to get a job assuming that is what he would want. He was asked about this and agreed to the work offered. He was given 200 pesos(£3) to buy products to begin selling. He disappeared....

After a few weeks I asked a friend of his where he was thinking something had happened to him. I was informed that he was sleeping in another part of town and that he said that he couldn't work as he needed to sleep! He has since moved back to the church area looking as dirty and miserable as before so maybe I will be able to talk to him again soon. Surprisingly I didn't feel impatient when I saw him just sad as he looked so hopeless and alone curled up in a ball sleeping outside a shop.

The church have tried various livelihood programmes over the past decade but all ended in failure due to a lack of market for the products and other issues of discipline. We have started to discuss the possibility of networking with Christians in business locally to build up contacts that might be willing to offer jobs to these people. But statistics show that these types of projects are rarely successful and so the poverty cycle continues. It is virtually impossible for anyone over the age of 35 to get a job here and that isn't even taking into consideration the issues of substance/alcohol abuse, lack of paperwork, lack of home to live in, lack of skills, lack of discipline..the list goes on and on.

The dilemma really is how much we as Christians should do for these people and how much we should expect them to do for themselves. The other issue is how to identify those who really want to change and are prepared to go the extra mile from those who just say what we want to hear...ultimately real and lasting change can only come from God if He opens their eyes to the truth...and how desperate we are to see this happen in the lives of the Drop-in attendees.

Needless to say it can be quite frustrating at times but as I learnt before with the "rugby boys", the real lesson is that sometimes what we think people need is very different from what they actually need or from what they want! We need God's wisdom as we consider future plans and options.