By Jonathan Warner
He had a listless look in his eyes. A wild crop of bleached hair hung across his scraggly face. The lines under his eyes spoke of a hard life and a youth stolen a long time ago. He was homeless and hungry. He was only about 20.
This was just one of the people I met as I went with the first Break for Change group that traveled to Atlanta during spring break. I had the opportunity of helping to lead this group as we ministered with Street Grace and its partners.
Street Grace was formed in 2009 when a coalition of eight churches came together to address the issue of the commercial sexual exploitation of children in Metro Atlanta. It developed into an alliance of Christian church partners, community organizations and individual volunteers who are working together to end commercial sexual exploitation of children through a model of awareness, empowerment and engagement leading to social change.
Our role, as a Break for Change team, was to assist the partners of Street Grace. We mainly worked with StandUp For Kids and Wellspring Living.
Located in inner city Atlanta, StandUp For Kids ministers to homeless and at-risk youth within the city. Wellspring Living runs an aftercare program for women and girls who have been victims of exploitation and abuse.
The haggard young man I described at the beginning was one of a number of youth that we had the chance to see on Wednesday night when StandUp For Kids opened its doors to provide a warm meal and place of refuge.
Many of these youth were people I would have walked past on an average day in the city and never thought twice about where they would lay there head that night or how they got their next meal. They were the young people that the pimps wanted to find—vulnerable because their basic needs were not being met.
On Friday, we vacuumed concrete floor, threw away leaves, washed windows, and scrubbed steps at Wellspring Living. This was all a part of an effort to prepare Wellspring’s new facility for the arrival of girls who were victims of forced prostitution and are now a part of Wellspring’s residential recovery program. These were hard jobs that needed to be done in order to move the renovation of the grounds and building forward.
Our week consisted of doing simple jobs for people who need extra-hands. Even though it seemed small to us, everywhere we went the help was immensely appreciated. These ministries rely on volunteers to get many of their jobs done.
Some may ask how much the Break for Change trips really accomplish. I can say from my experience and the conversations we had with those in the field, that it is the small things that empower lasting change. Our team was able to help a much bigger cause in little ways that may not be realized by most, but will be felt by all in one way or another.