Open Memo to Emo Types

I’m not good with teenagers.

I’m especially not good with twenty and thirty something teenagers, people who are emotionally in their teens but in big people’s bodies. Who carry their high school attitudes and personas long into adulthood. Who wait longer to grow up, get through school, move out, become independent. Who drift through life, unfocused, going from job to job, without a care or responsibility in the world.

Don’t get me wrong, I recently let a friend see my journal/collection of poems which I wrote in my early twenties called “A Descent into the Abyss” (*vomits a little in my mouth*), so I was emo before emo was cool. Now emo’s a way of life:

Maybe it’s a matter of us being culturally soft, having no defining event to sweep us up and make us grow up. Our generation has had no Depression (yet), no World War, no Viet Nam. In fact, from my generation on, we’ve encountered little we couldn’t largely avoid.

But life still happens. I’m a grown ass man with grown up responsibilities to my family, my job, and my community. And I have better things to do than wade through what amounts to third grade antics with big people body parts or Twitter/Facebook/Myspace self-created drama.

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Focus on Outreach, Inc.

Okay, I take back what I said about me not writing about some of my friends. I lie. I do that sometimes. I thought I’d highlight a friend who runs a parachurch ministry, Outreach, Inc.

Outreach, Inc. is a Christian ministry in Indianapolis reaching out to homeless and at-risk young adults with the compassion of Jesus Christ. Outreach accomplishes this by providing street outreach, a youth drop-in center, holistic social services, emergency/referral services and case management; operated in an environment of God’s love. We are dedicated to introducing the youth to a relationship with Jesus Christ and helping them to mature in that relationship. Outreach comes along side the church in helping it understand and fulfill the “Great Commission” on a local level by training, equipping and supporting the body of Christ and community to minister to this population, empowering the youth to exit the street life.

About 300 kids a year pass through their doors, most from the Indianapolis area. There’s a perception that these kids want to be out on the streets, that they are there because they are lazy or are there strictly as the result of their choices. The reality is that most want to transition out of the streets; that they were let down, if not abandoned, by the system. Outreach, Inc. works within and fills the cracks of that system.

There’s never a typical week for Outreach, Inc. Some of the things that occur weekly are their staff meeting on Mondays, client meetings on Wednesdays, and their Bible study on Thursdays. Then there are their afternoon drops, plus their evening drops on Thursay, Friday, Saturday evenings and street outreach. As you can imagine, it’s the unpredictability of the ministry that break any sense of routine (or IS the routine). The emergencies that pop up, meeting with the youth, going to court with them, helping their plans to transition from mediocrity to success – whether that means getting them food, clothing, bus passes, finding a job, or working one-on-one with them.

In other words, my new Intake column is up. “Focus on Outreach.” And we can’t forget the important work done by the volunteers of Outreach, Inc. Thank you, volunteers!