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SOME TIME AGO a teenager that was living in our home at the time came home from school and said, "One of my friends is homeless.  He sleeps on a bench in West Park."  I tremember thinking at the time, "I wonder what he did that caused him to be homeless?"  I remember praying for him, too.   I didn't, however, do anything to help.  There aren't many days that go by when I don't remember hearing about that homeless tean and wondering if by offering a little help I could have made a big difference.

FAST FORWARD TO TODAY.  My eyes have been opened to an epidemic of teenage homelessness.  Yes, there are occasions when teenagers by their own poor choices bring their situation upon themselves. But there are an extraordinay number of times when family situations beyond what most of us can imagine, much less comprehend, precipitate teenage homelessness.   I've discussed this with City Officials, police officers, and civic leaders and have learned that it's not just in my community of Howell, but teenage homelessness is a wide-spread problem.  It's in Brighton, Fenton, Grand Blanc, Hartland, Highland, Holly, MIlford, White Lake, and in all the communities where our church members live.  It's all around us and I've been blinded to it. And, the one time it was brought to my attention, I ignored it.

I HAVE FELT A NEARLY NON-STOP BURDEN for these teens.  I fall asleep dreading the time I didn't help a homless teen and I wake up thinking, "What can I do now to help?"  Even among our new group of teen attendees as our church, there has been homeless and nearly hopeless, situations.    The drive within to do something about it is as if God has laid it on my heart to do something.

FOR A FEW WEEKS I've been drafting some outlines for an upcoming series of messages from the Book of James.  The Book of James is just so straight-forward and practical that I going to call the Series "Practical Christian Living." And wouldn't you know that today I came across this verse:  "Religion that God our Father acceps as pure and faultless is this:  to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1:27).  James didn't mean that our ministry was to be exclusive to widows and orphans, but that we were to care for those who had needs.  There's no doubt in my mind that this includes homeless teens.

A COUPLE OF WEEKS AGO I woke up with a clear vision and plan.  It includes renting a home for homeless teens; allowing them to live rent-free for a month; 1/2 rent for a second month and then expect they pay to stay.  Ideally the home would allow for up to four persons to keep the rent low.  While they were living there provide spiritual guidance and mentorship; including education in skilled trades, budgeting, and continuing education, and more.  I imagine each home having a leader to ensure basic rules are kept an to keep the home in good condition. And, ideally, we could help develop leadership in one of our guests to potentially start another home.  My dream is that this would be a self-sustaining ministry that can keep growning and helping others.

THAT IS A VERY QUICK GLIMPSE of what I'm imagining.  Are there risks?  Yes.  (I can't find examples of ministry in the Bible that didn't include risk.)  But I've come to believe that I can't just keep my blinders on and do nothing.  Is this something we're going to do at Tri County?  I don't know.  That's why I'm writing to you today.  A ministry like this can't succeed without the church behind it.  That's why I'm writing to you today. Would you please pray about this?  Would you please ask for the Lord's direction and guidance. Would you pray that no matter what is decided that the elders of the church are unanimous in their decision.    

I WROTE EARLIER THAT I woke up with a clear vision and plan.  I didn't write that I would up witha  "clear vision and plan from God."  That's what I am praying about. Is this of God or is this just a crazy thought and desire?  I believe that God will give us a clear and direct answer to that question. But we need to ask. We need to pray. We need to follow His leading.  So, I urge you to pray about and consider this.  And then, I'd love to hear the direction you're being given.  What doyou think of this ministry idea?  

THANK YOU TRI COUNTY for your prayers.