Coming down off the mountain with them, he stood on a plain surrounded by disciples, and was soon joined by a huge congregation from all over Judea and Jerusalem, even from the seaside towns of Tyre and Sidon. They had come both to hear him and to be cured of their ailments. Those disturbed by evil spirits were healed. Everyone was trying to touch him—so much energy surging from him, so many people healed! Then he spoke:
You’re blessed when you’ve lost it all.
God’s kingdom is there for the finding.
You’re blessed when you’re ravenously hungry.
Then you’re ready for the Messianic meal.
You’re blessed when the tears flow freely.
Joy comes with the morning.
Luke 6:20-21, The Message
Jane’s* father left when she was three years old.Years later her mother began seeing someone who Jane fought with all the time and at age 14 she was told to leave home. Jane stayed with some relatives for a while until an uncle tried to sexually abuse her, and no one in the family believed her when she told them what had happened. She dropped out of school and began ‘couch surfing’ from one friend’s house to another and met some new friends who introduced her to drugs and alcohol. For the next few years Jane moved between friends’ houses and hostels. Looking back, Jane sees that lots of people tried to help her but either they didn’t know how or she wouldn’t let them. When Jane arrived at YASS she smoked cigarettes, drank alcohol and had taken speed, ecstasy and marijuana. She had been sexually abused twice and was very distrusting of adults. For the first few weeks Jane “sussed out” the staff, looking for ways of affirming that adults were untrustworthy.
After a while she began to notice that the staff genuinely cared about the young people at YASS. They cared about her story and cared for her as an individual. The more of her story that Jane told the more staff were able to help her. With their help Jane stabilised her life and stopped taking drugs and smoking. She began to re-establish some family relationships and discovered that she had a whole other side of her family living in NSW, including a younger sister, who were very interested in meeting her.
Jane couldn’t afford the fare but YASS staff managed to get her a free flight through a corporate sponsor. They found her some temporary accommodation within an hour of where her family lived. Since then Jane has found long term accommodation, is studying full-time at TAFE and working part-time in a café. She volunteers at her local youth centre and wants to become a youth worker.
* Not her real name.
Homeless Young Australians: Issues and Responses, Mission Australia
UnitingCare Australia is an agency of the National Assembly of the Uniting Church in Australia (UCA). They represent the UCA’s network of UnitingCare community services of which there are over 1,300 service delivery sites nationwide.
The UnitingCare network is one of the largest providers of community services in Australia, providing services to more than 2 million Australians each year, employing 35,000 staff and 24,000 volunteers nationally. It provides services to older Australians, children, young people and families, Indigenous Australians, people with disabilities, the poor and disadvantaged, people from culturally diverse backgrounds and older Australians in urban, rural and remote communities.
You can donate to any of the State Branches: in Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales and ACT, and Queensland (Donate to one of the service agencies)