When Pat Nixon and I recently met Jenny Shantz, the director of Inner Hope Youth Ministries at their undifferentiated residence in a quiet and pleasant East Vancouver neighbourhood, I was struck by the loving and safe atmosphere reflected in the faces of both the young people and staff members living together in this clean and comfortable home. It was evident from the face to face introductions of everyone that this was a place of caring and compassion.
Frankie is one of the young people with a troubled past but now with the loving help of Jenny and her staff over the last few years, faces a bright and unlimited future. Frankie’s story, in his own words in the video below, is particularly compelling for its transparent honesty and “no judgement”.
Jenny talks about Frankie and how Inner Hope reaches out to youth at risk;
Inner Hope Youth Ministries came into contact with Frankie four year ago. At the time, he was 15 years old, dealing drugs and attending an alternative high-school program due to attendance and behavior challenges at school. Inner Hope reaches out to at-risk youth in Vancouver by providing stable housing, practical support, life skills mentoring and discipleship opportunities. Our primary focus is serving youth ages 13-24 coming out of homes with high levels of instability including abusive home environments, parents struggling with addiction, broken family relationships and dependency on the welfare system. The spring we met Frankie, we were launching a new life skills program called Boundless and were recruiting youth to join and be matched one-on-one with a mentor. When Frankie joined the program, he openly stated that he would meet with his mentor and attend workshops, but he wasn’t interested in anything to do with God. Over the next 2 ½ years, Frankie’s heart softened and we were privileged to witness incredible transformation. Not only did he return to mainstream school, secure a “legal job” and graduate from high-school, he also began attending church and was baptized to declare his love for Jesus and desire to follow Jesus’ path. Over time Frankie has gained a new understanding of his identity, both as a young Native man and child of the King. It is truly an honour to walk alongside Frankie as he journeys into adulthood and a life full of “boundless” opportunity.