Two years ago, Linda did not have a heart for homeless people. "I felt like it was their life choices that made them homeless," she recalls.
Yet, after being diagnosed and undergoing treatment for ovarian cancer, Linda says that the Lord brought her out of illness with an entirely different attitude towards the homeless and serving the Lord obediently.
Around the same time, Linda’s south Austin missional community decided to focus their efforts outwardly. They took turns choosing different service opportunities for the entire missional community to do together. They soon realized that they would need to commit to a single service opportunity in order to connect and serve faithfully.
"We tried some other things, but it just wasn't consistent," Linda says. "We realized we were just doing it to checklist it."
While browsing the For the City Network's website for service opportunities, Linda learned about Street Youth Ministry's need for volunteers. Street Youth Ministry works with homeless youth in Austin, almost all under the age of thirty. The ministry's goal is to provide its clients with stability, relevant Christian witness and discipleship, and a connection with a local body of believers. The organization works with several churches and individual volunteers, and according to founder Terry Cole, the members of Linda's missional community are some of the few committed volunteers serving on a consistent monthly basis.
As many in the group are in their fifties and sixties, Linda recalls that several had fears and concerns about being able to connect with and adequately serve homeless youth. But as a group, they decided Street Youth's monthly Wash Day would give them a chance to provide a much needed service. Wash Day is held on Mondays and provides homeless youth the opportunity to wash their clothing for free, pick up necessities like sewing kits and undergarments, and eat a free meal.
Their first Wash Day with Street Youth Ministry was a good experience, and the group soon committed to serve monthly. With their pockets full of quarters and a sandwich dinner for everyone to share, Linda and her missional community continue to learn together what the mission of Christ really looks like.
Every Wash Day, each volunteer brings about six dollars in quarters for laundry. Although there are only 12 members and usually 15-25 kids who need clothing washed, Linda says that the group’s "money cup" is never less than half full. The entire group expected to struggle raising the money necessary for the success of Wash Day, yet their resources never run dry.
"It doesn't make any sense," Linda says. "To see money taken care of month after month just blows us away. It's such a huge blessing to be able to see what God does through just basic things."Linda has also learned that serving in obedience is not always followed by visible results. Sometimes there are youth at Wash Day that the group knows well, and other times the majority of youth are new and do not want anything to do with her group.
"Overall they're very appreciative of what we do, but even if they weren't, that's not why we're doing it," she says. "I wouldn't say we're out there really trying to change their life, but just to show them the goodness of the Lord."
Linda explains that the Lord's call for missional obedience means making yourself available to the leading of the Spirit to reach out of your comfort zone. While she used be nervous about how the youth would respond, diving into gospel obedience with her missional community has changed her outlook on serving the poor.
"We're here to be vessels, not to limit God,” Linda says. “He commands us to take care of the poor just out of obedience, not to judge why they're here.”