We’re excited to share this guest blog post from Amy Williams, one of our incredible YS Team Training speakers this year at our Bay Area, Kansas City, and San Diego locations. Check out more info about YS Team Training here.
If you were a single woman living in Chicago (also known as Chiraq, Killinois) during a time when the homicide rate was at an all-time high and you heard the voice of the Lord say to you, “I need you to move into a gang neighborhood,” what would your reaction be? I would love to say that I bowed down in reverent obedience and immediately rejoiced at the mission God had called me to. Instead, I chose to do what many of us often attempt: Engage God in a debate with hopes to change His mind.
My many points of debate included: “I mean, I know I was called to work with gang involved youth and those in the criminal justice system but Lord, I can do that from another neighborhood, like a safe one. I don’t have to live there to love them. I can do a ‘sanctified drive-by’ every day and say what’s up. I can impact those young people in any number of ways. USE ME LORD… but do it in any other way please.”
His one debate point: “Baby girl, I need you to know that I am already in that hood. Those are my people. I have not forsaken them. I am already doing a work there. I’m not asking you to be their savior. That’s what I’m here for. All I am asking you to do is be a light in a kid’s darkness. That’s all. It’s that simple.”
AND THE WINNER OF THE DEBATE IS….
What it really came down to was God reminding me of who He was and who I wasn’t. I wasn’t the fourth member of the trinity. I wasn’t the second coming of Jesus. But I was the one who chose to walk this life with God. In doing, I was also the one who made the choice to surrender my will and be used any way God chooses… even if it meant intentionally moving into a gang neighborhood.
And, it has been one of the best mandates God has directed me to do! To walk like with young men and woman who find themselves lost in darkness and in need of light, love and friendship with no strings attached. To have someone there daily who sees them the way God sees them when everyone else is quick to label them. To have a safe place on the block they can run to any time they have need or just want someone to laugh, cry or chill with.
God knew the most powerful way to impact them was to go from “they” and “them” to “we” and “us.” I became more than a mentor. I became their neighbor.
Trusting God with this call really challenged my idea of what it means to surrender to His plans that, most times, make no sense in their initial directive. As I’ve watched God moving on my block over the years moving, I am constantly reminded that He doesn’t need me, but He chooses to use me. What an incredible privilege that I don’t deserve.
As a 19-year youth ministry veteran, Amy Williams follows her passion to minister to teens involved in gangs, youth on probation/parole, and those lost in the criminal justice system. As a certified Gang Intervention Specialist, she has pursued her calling as a youth pastor, reentry coordinator for paroled youth, youth mentor, speaker, and a national trainer for other youth workers. Check out her blog A Hope Dealer.
Be sure to connect with Amy at our affordable, regional YS Team Training events this spring. Check out more info at YSTeamTraining.com.