Friday, March 30, 2007

Brief Update

There's been a lot happening here in Denver. So much that blogging has not been such a priority.

We've had volunteer groups from Abilene Christian University and we attended and spoke at the Tulsa Workshop in Oklahoma. There have been a few days of sunshine, but it's snowing again today. (The kids swarm back onto the streets when the temps get above 40 and scatter as they drop again. At Shakespeare's Pool Hall, we'll have 60 one week and 30 the next.) We take heart because spring IS in the air.

Things have been happening more on a personal level this season - which we love. We're having one-on-one moments with kids that deepen our relationships and continue to teach us how to love, be loved, and depend on God. We've been visiting our friends in jail, going with to doctors appointments, and simply sharing cups of coffee. We've been playing games, watching movies together, having Bible study, and sharing meals at the new Dry Bones apartment. Nikki recently took one of the young girls to live in a maternity home so that she can have her baby there and adopt it into a family that will love and raise it.

LaDawn and Cheeto endured the 13-hour van ride to Tulsa with us to hang out at the Dry Bones booth at the workshop. We threw a birthday party at McDonald's for a 6 year old that had never had one. We passed out sleeping bags, blankets, and handwarmers, but more than anything else this season, we continued to learn how to simply BE with our friends - to love with God's love, live as Christ, and walk with grace.

Thank you all for your continued support of this ministry and most of all for your prayers for the kids on the streets and for the Dry Bones team.

- Matt & Nikki
Two former street kids serve as ushers at the wedding of two Dry Bones volunteers (Barrett and Cami) who met at the pool hall.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Everyone wants to know. . . .

What do Denver's street kids do when it snows?
Here's Nikki's answer:

As I write the answer to this question, I am looking out at about 1 ½ feet of snow on the ground and it’s still coming down. The temperature is predicted to drop to -2 degrees by nightfall. On days like today, my heart and mind belong to the street kids. Are they staying warm? Have they found someplace to go?

When the temperatures drop, there are several options for the homeless in Denver. Many try to find a friend’s couch for the night. Sometimes, as many as 10-15 street kids will panhandle and then pool their money together in order to rent a motel room. Others will go to a shelter if it gets cold enough. The shelters are definitely warmer, but the younger homeless are extremely reluctant to mix in with the older. Denver hospital lobbies are open to the homeless anytime the temperature is below 32 degrees, but the night security isn’t always accommodating. Piling into an abandoned warehouse and building a small fire is another popular thing to do.

Despite the options, some remain sleeping under bridges and on steam grates no matter how cold it gets. I have talked to so many kids who have described waking up with several inches of snow on their blankets. Other kids will walk around all night long to stay warm. Dry Bones tries to make the kids aware of their options and help them get to a warmer place if we can.

The winter can be a depressing time of the year for the homeless youth on the streets. As I pray each night, I ask that Satan’s lies will be defeated in these young people’s lives and that God’s love will heal and warm them. I also pray a prayer of thanks for the warmth He has given me.

Since Nikki wrote this back in early December, it has hardly stopped snowing. We've now officially had 58" in Denver. The annual average for the city is 62" and the snowiest month, March, is still a long way off. Nikki and I live a little higher in elevation than Denver. We've had over 8 feet of snow at our house since late December. We love it when we're inside and when we know all of our friends are safe. Otherwise, yes we're sick of it.

Friday, December 15, 2006

"God with us"

I was asked the other day to write a few stories from the streets of times when I knew that "God was with us".

My response was that "God is with us" always. When I think about "God with us", I keep thinking about telling the story of the time I had a sandwich with a street kid, or the time I rode the Free Mall Ride, or when I hung out at Civic Center Park (all of which happen almost every day). In other words, I see God every day on the streets - He's always "with us". In fact, Dry Bones' goal is to join God on the streets wherever we find Him at work - which turns out, is ALL over the place. It's a good place to be. God blesses everyone as He shows up - street kids and myself alike.

So here's three stories or instances that I can put my finger on and say, "God is with us".

1. Last week, the Bedford Home Church was feeding our weekly Thursday night meal. A street kid that I've known for 5 years came walking up. He was visibly upset. He started talking to one of the other street kids. Their voices started getting louder and louder. The next thing I knew, he ran off into the park.

About 20 minutes later, he came walking back up to the meal. He grabbed some food and began to eat. I walked over to him and said, "Are you ok?" Tears began to well up in his eyes and he said, "Sorry I ran off. I had to get away for a minute. I ran to the top of the hill in the park. I sat up on top and decided to pray. I asked God, 'Where are you?!!!' I'm so sick of the streets. I'm so sick of this street life - the drugs, the lying, the stealing, all of it! Matt, I just wish that God was here with me." We talked for a good while longer. He talked about how he's tired of making excuses for the bad choices that he keeps making over and over again. "I'm ready to own up to my mistakes," he said. "More than anything. I miss God. I feel like He used to be a part of my life, and now He's left me! I used to pray all the time. Tonight's the first time I've prayed in over a year. Why doesn't God show up? Where is He? I asked God to let me feel Him again - I want to know that He's with me?! Why doesn't He show up right now!?" I reached over and put my arm on his shoulder and pulled him close. My friend slowly looked up at me and his tear-filled eyes and mine connected. "I think He is here right now," I said. He smiled.

We talked for a good while longer and then he left. Of course, I'm not God, but I can join God. God continues to connect us to people that need Him. God is pursuing hearts all across this city, mine included . . . In that pursuit, He often uses His people to express, "God with us".

We're now connecting this kid with a professional Christian counselor - on his request.
We'll keep walking with him as far as the road goes.

2. This week, Nikki and I sat at Starbucks with a street kid named, "Joe". We hadn't seen him in about 2 months. When we saw him on the streets, he ran toward us and jumped on me - almost knocking me over. He gave me the biggest hug ever and was genuinely excited to be reunited with us. We were standing there in the middle of a huge group of street kids - all buying, selling, and smoking pot. Suddenly, Joe didn't care about any of that stuff any more. He pulled Nikki and me to the side and said, "Can we go get some coffee and talk?" And so we did. We talked for over an hour. He poured his heart out over a cup of coffee. We talked about his week, the past two months, and his life - how his father had sexually abused him when he was a little kid. When it was time for us to leave, he walked us over to the the Free Mall Ride and we told him that we loved him. After that, we simply said, "See ya later." That was it - "God with us". We showed up at the park at a time when Joe was really hurting and looking for comfort. Instead of drugs, in that moment, God's presence in the park connected us with him.


3. Yesterday, Nikki and Rebekah talked to a young girl, "Samantha", who had recently found out that she was pregnant. She told Nikki and Rebekah that she wouldn't abort the baby because she didn't believe that abortion was right. She did, however, tell them that she had been drinking and drugging extra hard that week. She had even gotten in a couple of fights. "Perhaps, with any luck, I'll mis-carry," she said with tears rolling down her cheeks. Nikki and Rebekah didn't yell at her. They didn't start hitting her over the head with a Bible. They simply listened, loved, and then said the words that God would want her to hear. "You will be ok. Your baby is precious. Give this baby a chance. We will help you put your baby into the care of an awesome adoptive family if that's what's best. God cares for you and He cares for this baby. This will be ok." Samantha calmed down and listened. She realized in her own heart that self-abortion was just as wrong as going to an abortion clinic. Nikki and Rebekah will see her again tonight and again tomorrow and again next week . . . "God be with us" - We beg you!

Eight kids that had left the streets have showed BACK up downtown just this week. We'll keep showing up to join God on the streets as we believe that He is definitely "with us".

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Dry Bones New Downtown Location!

Wanted to let all of you know about the new Dry Bones downtown headquarters! After five years, we have finally found a "Home for Dry Bones" in downtown Denver. We are now renting a three bedroom apartment that will be used for hosting small groups of kids for Bible studies, meals, life skills classes, and much more. This space provides room for office space, counseling services, and personal needs assessment meetings.

This exciting new endeavor is in need of your help. We can't begin using the new space to its full potential until we "set up house". In order to do this, we are asking you to participate in our virtual shower that is now underway. Much like your friends that get married, Dry Bones has registered at Bed, Bath, and Beyond and Target (first name: Dry; last name: Bones.)

We are encouraging all friends of Dry Bones to go online or to the store to purchase needed items for Dry Bones. Items can then be shipped to the address conected with each registry (or brought by if you live in the area).

It would also be an incredible blessing for those of you that are interested to host a "Virtual Dry Bones Shower" at your church or workplace or within any other group of friends. Just set up a virtual shower date with your group (the sooner, the better) and have some creative fun with it. Share the website link www.virtualdrybones.com with them.

Please take a minute to visit the online Virtual Shower website. The location is:
www.virtualdrybones.com

There are many details here and you can even begin shopping online from this website.

Thanks always for your support of our family and of Dry Bones. We couldn't be here without you all!

Love,
Matt & Nikki Wallace

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

"You Got Shoes?"

A few weeks ago, one of our Elevations groups (a youth group from New Braunfels, TX) had an amazing experience.

They had come to Denver to spend a week with us at Dry Bones. While we mainly work with homeless youth and young adults, a few guys from the group found themselves in a unique conversation with an older homeless man.

Disclaimer: I'm usually the first one to cringe at "Chicken Soup for the Soul" type stories - no matter who's soul they're for (teenager's, mother's, grandfather's, graduate's, third cousin twice-removed, dog's, fast food worker's, and other various souls). I'm probably so skeptical because I find myself not believing the stories. "Yeah right. Like some father had to jump into the giant cogs of the wheel of a Swiss tug boat in order to save a monkey's life!"

But here I go writing one such story. (I'll try not to be suspicous of this story. After all, I usually find myself to be a reliable source.)

The youth minister's name is Bill. He and two other youth group kids met the man on Lawrence Street. The old man reached out his arm as they walked near and cried out, "Hey man, you got any shoes?!"

Bill replied, "Well . . . no sir. I don't have any shoes for you."

"Well I need shoes. I got nothing on my feet!"

"I can see that sir, but really, I don't have any shoes to give you," was all Bill could say.

"You a Christian aren't ya? You with da church right?" The old man retorted.

Bill said, "Well, yes. I'm a Christian and I go to church, but not one around here."

"No, no, no. I mean, you a Christian; a prayin' man, yeah?" The homeless man was persistant.

"Of course. I pray."

"Well get to prayin'! I need me some shoes. Pray for some shoes for my feet."

Although it was perhaps one of the stranger prayers that Bill had ever found himself praying, he did indeed begin to pray. The prayer began with a bit of timidity before moving on to a brief sprint of boldness.

Bill prayed, "Lord, this man needs some shoes. Uh . . . I pray that you bring him some shoes for his feet. Um . . . as you can see, he has no shoes . . . and he needs some. I pray that you bring him some shoes today. I pray that you bring him some shoes in such a way that he would know that the shoes could have only come from you. I ask that you . . ."

As Bill was about ready to end his prayer, he was interrupted by the sound of a huge door flying open from the side of a building just 15 to 20 feet away. A man leaned his head way out this opening. The small praying/shoeless group halfway unbowed their heads and cocked one eye open and towards the yelling man.

The man spoke. "Anybody need some shoes?"

The homeless man opened the other eye, stood up tall, straightened his shirt, and began walking towards the door. As he took his first step he calmly said, "Yep, there's my shoes." He reached the man at the door, extended his hand, received the shoes, and immediately pried the tongue open to read the size. "Yep, 9 1/2. Just my size. Alright then, thank you guys." And he walked off down the street.

Not only did Bill and the two others discover faith in their own hearts, faith that maybe they didn't even know they had, but they also discovered the faith of a dirty old homeless man. This man had every bit of confidence that God would hear the prayers of these young people.

I hope that the next day this man needed a belt. And the next some socks. The next day maybe a watch. Whatever he needed, I hope that it might be an opportunity for other believers walking on the streets to be inspired to speak faith from their hearts to a God that does indeed listen to and care for his children.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Heading to Texas

Wanted to let everyone know that we will be in Texas this upcoming week on a fundraising trip.

If you're in one of these areas, be sure to come by and say hi.


We'll be in Dallas at a fundraising dinner on Saturday night (Aug. 26)

In Abilene at the Southern Hills Church Sunday morning (both services)
With the Southern Hills Youth Group Sunday night

In Richland Hills with the Richland Hills Church Youth Group Wednesday night

In Denison, TX at the Park Ave. Church of Christ Sunday morning (Sept. 3)

Monday, July 24, 2006

Summer Interns

Summers are particularly busy for us here at Dry Bones. We love them. And we've had a great group of summer interns this year.

From serious moments with street kids, to incredible adventures in the mountains, to hazing them (and us) at the beginning of the summer with Dollar Store costumes, we've had a great time!

We have one more week of summer Elevations groups and then the schedule will calme down a bit. Nikki and I WILL update this blog more often just as soon as the summer is over.

Thanks to Rebekah, Emily, Stephanie, Lisa, and Zach for your incredible service this summer! It's good to have you "interns" as friends. . . I've learned a lot from you.
















(Although these pictures don't show it - the interns DID spend a LOT of time with the street kids!)