11/18/13- Today was a first. When asking my students to raise their hand if their immediate parent had ever been in jail, almost 75% of my kids raised their hand. The stories continued and one student asked to share about his dad. His dad had tried to poison him to kill him when he was a toddler and was put in jail. When he was released he was stabbed to death shortly after. This student has been bullied throughout his school life. Upon hearing his story, the room was silent. I saw the tears in several of my student eyes, many of them who have bullied him. One student, who is a frequent bully and on probation stands up and says “ We need to stop calling him names. We need each other. We need to be better than our dads” Needless to say I did shed a few tears. I love my boys… The City Needs a Father.
Overall, the youth I serve are starved for love and positive role models. A little investment goes a long way no matter what way you are involved in their lives. Specifically, with the populations I work with, they have a high sense of learned helplessness. Being able to help many youth feel successful and like a valuable contributor to their community, many for the first time, awakens so much in their souls and life-perspective.
The 360 Conference is essential as youth work cannot be done alone. The task is too big. We need to be highly collaborative as urban youth workers to be able to seize the opportunities God places before us. 360 Conference and UYWI training events bring together strategic thinkers, urban problem-solvers, and an incredible diversity of talent under one roof. I see it as a invaluable time for both myself as an urban educator and my ministry staff teach to get away, get inspired and recharged, build relationships, gain insight, and have a blast.
Betsy Osterink, Los Angeles, CA, 6th Grade Special Educator, Math and Science at LA Academy Middle School in South Los Angeles/ Youth Worker at Mosaic Whittier Church
Kids’ lives are hanging in the balance. Far too many youth are dying in the streets, being raised fatherless, dropping out of school and making destructive life altering decisions. Today’s urban youth face many challenges and desperately need Jesus. This year’s theme for the 360 National Conference is “The City Needs a Father.” The Conference will gather leaders like Betsy from across the country for 3 days of powerful general sessions, practical youth ministry training and the opportunity to connect with like-minded leaders who share their calling to serve urban youth. Will you join is in prayer as we continue to shape this event in May? Our hope is that youth workers will walk out of the event refreshed, renewed and with tools they need to stay in the lives of the young people they serve for the long-haul.