Street Youth Ministry | Lindsay Conrad, MDiv, middler

In 2010 Lindsay Conrad arrived at Austin Seminary after spending a summer working with the homeless population in Memphis. While looking for a congregation to join in Austin, she noticed a lack of relationship between the church she visited and the homeless population. After voicing this frustration on campus, fellow students introduced her to Street Youth Ministry (SYM), a ministry of Covenant Presbyterian Church, whose mission is "to know, love, and, serve street dependent youth in Austin."

Lindsay fondly remembers the Friday she went to check out the ministry; she has gone back every week since. Lindsay has introduced several fellow students to the ministry, some of whom have become regular volunteers, as well. Currently, for her Supervised Practice in Ministry, she rotates her time spending one week working with SYM and the other at Covenant Presbyterian Church.

What is difficult about working in this type of ministry?

In working with clients, you can feel the very real emotional walls they have built around them. They open up after trust is established, but close very quickly.
The ministry is wracked with transition. I desire to be in long-term relationship with the clients, but I don’t think that’s possible with this type of ministry in general. With SYM, a relationship you’ve started to build with a client might end suddenly because they move to another city or transition off of the street. Everything happens in such a condensed time frame. When a client gets off the street, the breaking of the relationship is good, but it is difficult to say good-bye when clients need to move on.

What is the best thing about working in this type of ministry?

It is impossible not to love them (the clients). Even one-time encounters with people I won’t ever see again are so special. It’s great to hear their stories, listen to, and love them as friends, brothers and sisters in Christ, and clients.

How has working with this ministry affected the shape of your vocational call?

It always shapes it. But, my time with SYM is likely confined to my seminary career. However I do see a call to love and serve people whose lives are bound to the street. My future in ministry will undoubtedly steer in a direction that helps the PC(USA) learn how to be a church with and for these people who are so close to the heart of God. It is a work in progress. This type of ministry is a risk, with it comes blessing. This is Jesus’ crowd. This is who Jesus sat at the table with. At the very least, I will serve.

To learn more about Street Youth Ministry, visit their website.