Good News for Roaddawgs

Life for homeless young people is hard. Some struggle with alcoholism and drug addiction. Many struggle with the memories of past abuses, lost friends, broken relationships. All of this, compounded with the constant threat of another hard night on the streets, leads many to a thick and seemingly impenetrable hopelessness. The lyrics of the quintessential street punk band, Choking Victim, capture well the spirit that haunts many of the kids we love and spend our time among:

"All the times that were good or bad, and the thought of a future that I never had / Now I'm dead to no dismay, my body reeks, my flesh decays! / And I will rot in my grave, and I will see that nobody is saved. All is gone now, the hate and the pain, all of it, gone down the drain."

While sitting with one of our guys this past week who has been on and off the streets for almost a decade, I had the honor of being able to see some of his sketchwork (which you can see above). The image was inspired by the passing of many of his homeless friends whose lives were lost while on the road and riding the rails. It expresses the deep sadness and the threat of death that many of our youth are faced with daily.

So what does the Gospel mean for a Roaddawg (as many street youth affectionately call each other)? For those who don't have a solution to their troubles within easy reach and who struggle every day with the seemingly downhill battle of addiction and mental health issues, the Gospel is believing in a God who bleeds with you. The Gospel for roaddawgs is hope for the day when God's kingdom will break through the suffering of today. The Gospel for roaddawgs is a Jesus who sleeps under the bridge with you, who weeps with you when another friend is lost to drugs, and is a God who wants to see your life redeemed and restored and suffers with you when something holds you back from that. This is the Jesus that Alice and I hope kids can come to know as we share our lives with them here on the sidewalks of Boston.

As painful and hopeless as it can feel out there sometimes, we still see bursts of God's joyful hope. As difficult as the weather has been on those who are sleeping outside, the last couple of weeks of snow have led us to some wonderful opportunities to open up our home. We have been able to have several kids over for dinner, and in this recent snowstorm we were able to offer our sofa-bed as a place of refuge overnight. Click here to view a recent Boston Globe video on youth who are still camping out, despite the weather.

Last fall we spoke with a man who asked us the question, "Why would you Christians want to spend time with a homeless bum like me?". We would like to offer up our praises to God that he checked himself into detox a few weeks ago and is steadily making his way back to sobriety! We have been meeting with him weekly to discuss his future and his faith, and we have been blessed by the role that God has given us in being able to support him as he makes positive changes to his life.

- Tim & Alice Colegrove, InnerCHANGE Boston