By Leslie Stickland, Chosen Program Director
Many years ago, while working at a local residential treatment facility, I worked with a young man who we'll call Luke. Luke was 16, extremely charismatic, a little quite mischievous and smart. Really smart. He was obsessed with body building, girls, being cool, and did I mention body building? He had been brought to Alaska from another country as a boy, illegally, by his mother who later left him with some "friends" and then returned to her home country. In light of his circumstances, Luke grew up quickly and in turn, acquired quite the arsenal of street smarts and coping mechanisms. Overtime he got mixed up with the wrong crowd, started using drugs, and eventually landed himself in DJJ (Department of Juvenile Justice) custody. Luke was one of those kids that all the other kids wanted to be like. He was a natural leader and to those unaware of his story, presented simply as a "normal," good looking kid with great potential. He could give all the right answers, was great at telling you what he thought you wanted to hear, and in his mind, did not need treatment of any kind.
Stories of his favorite grandfather and his favorite grandfather's death. Stories of growing up in Costa Rica and stories of getting hurt by people who were supposed to help him. As he talked, I just sat there quietly and listened. It was almost as if he wasn't even talking to me or even himself for that matter. As if all of the hurt and joy and confusion that had been stuffed inside for so long simply couldn’t be contained any longer and just needed to breath. When he finally quieted, he let out a huge sigh and looked up at me quite abashedly, waiting for my response.
The Lord taught me a lot through that afternoon with Luke. He taught me that people have to deal with their "stuff" when they're ready. He taught me that being available and willing to listen are two of the most valuable things we can offer people. But most importantly, He reminded me that He is the healer. That He is forever moving and working in and around all of us and that to do ANYTHING outside of that which He is already doing is in vain.
I tell you all of this as an invitation. We feel that the most important thing we can do as program leaders, volunteers, and mentors is pray, so we want to do just that. Join our monthly Team Meetings as a time for us to gather, pray, laugh, and dream all things Chosen. We hope you will join us!