I remember the first time it happened.
I had only been in Barton for a few weeks, living with some of the Thrive team, when there was a knock at the door one evening.
I opened it to find a moody-looking teenager with his hood up and his head down.
He mumbled to me, ‘I heard you people do mentoring and I want a mentor.’
And I realised that living locally gave Thrive unique credibility with these young people.
A few months later, after I got married and we moved into our own flat on the estate, there was another knock at the door. This time it was two young people; a brother and a sister.
They were carrying a plastic bag with 4 raw chicken drumsticks in it. Their electric meter had run out of money, and so had their mum. She had sent them to us to ask if they could cook the chicken in our oven.
It was all they had in the house for their dinner.
And I realised then – and many times since – that the obstacles that stand in the way of these young people reaching their potential, are very real indeed.
THE NEED ON OUR DOORSTEP
Over the years, there’s been plenty of knocks at our door.
A teenage girl knocks and announces that she’s pregnant.
It’s raining and the young man standing at the door has nowhere else to go to stay dry.
A young mum knocks, asking to borrow money to pay for the DBS check that her new employer requires. Another mum hopes to lend a tenner to buy her son a birthday present (we now keep a jam jar of money for loans like this).
Of course, we haven’t always opened the door with enthusiasm. There’s times when we’ve had to say no, and explain that we’re not available right now. There’s times we’ve felt too exhausted to even open it – I remember one time vainly trying to ignore the persistent knocking only to find out it was our groceries delivery!
Sure, it costs us something to live in the community. But aren’t these young people worth it?
JOIN THE ADVENTURE
Sadly, too many of the young people we know lack positive role models in their lives who stick around.
That’s why Thrive teams have moved into areas like Barton and South Abingdon for the long-haul. We’re committed to following the example of Jesus who, as the Bible says, ‘became flesh and dwelt among us.’
And we’d love you to join us.
Right now we’re looking for some excellent youth workers and volunteers to be a blessing to these communities and be blessed by them – just last week two teenage boys and their mum knocked my door to give away their favourite childhood books to my 2-year-old son.
You can find out more about these roles here, or if you don’t feel it’s for you, then please join us in prayer this Wednesday as our team commits to a Day of Prayer and asks God to provide people to move into these communities to invest in these amazing young people.
Robin Peake is Thrive’s Development Manager and lives in Barton with his wife and son.