When I started at Elon, I quickly found my place at the Boys and Girls Club, and worked each summer at camps and clubs for at-risk kids. It wasn't until my term on staff with CSM in New York City that God opened my eyes to whole new realm of ministry and service that I enjoyed and was even more comfortable in.
As I worked on the streets of the Big Apple, I found myself at ease in a level of relational ministry that had always intimidated me before. Kids are a great challenge, but they are also open and forgiving. I found myself longing to sit across from people the world normally overlooks. I found myself craving their life story, and relishing the instant connection that came when someone who is now slow to trust after chronic hardship, trusts you with the very essence of who they are.
In 2008 I met Maximus in the Lower East Side of NYC. An incredible man who had served his country faithfully years ago, has spent the better part of the last decade scouting out scaffolding and unclaimed parkbenches in one of the most romanticized cities in the world. It was at this point that I realized where God was calling me.
I will always gravitate towards children - their energy and innocence and take on the world is contagious. But the Department of Veteran's Affairs estimates that on any given night, over 100,000 (over 1/3 of our countries homeless population) of our nation's heroes are living on the street. Over time, it took Vietnam vets (who account for over half of these homeless veterans) 8-10 years to become homeless. The number of Iraq/Afghanistan vets on the street is already growing, and it often takes them less than a year to see no alternative to a life on the streets. There is help out there, but these programs and shelters can only accommodate 20% of the veterans in need of services...
Many of you have asked me what's next in the grand adventure. THIS is the end goal. I can't express to you how proud I am of my big brother, my dad, my grandfather's, and my entire family for the many generations of patriotism and service they've given, but there are so many men and woman who haven't been as blessed as we have.
I'm not entirely sure what route to take to get where I believe God is calling me, but I'm also ready to enjoy the ride along the way.