Every Thursday at approximately 5:30, they gather at Kory and Ali's table for Dinner. There's 10 of them total, ranging from age 11-17. They are from a variety of home life situations. Most of those situations, by my standards, would be labeled "broken" or at the very least "unstable." Their stories would break your heart.
After the meal prayer, they dive in. There's a lot more hot sauce and ranch dressing used on food items than I would ever use. There's talk about musical artists I'm very unfamiliar with. There's slang words and other jargon used that is close to a foreign language to me.
After a few minutes, Ali, a petite, sweetheart of a 24 year old Michigander, speaks up, not loudly, but in a clearly authoritative voice that commands the attention of the group. "Okay, each of us is going to go around and share our plans for Christmas. Also, if you have any kind of tradition you do with your family on Christmas, share that."
They begin around the table and share. As one cracks a joke and the group laughs, the conversation and focus begins to trail, Kory or Ali speak up and ask the kids to listen and show respect as each other share. The kids listen.
After the meal, they all ask to be excused from the table. We head over to the family room and begin "Real Talk." Kory, the 24 year old stud athlete who grew up on the lake, kicks it off by giving an update on one of the members missing from the group who is currently in a juvenile hall. He shares about his visit with her the previous day. His eyes are filled with compassion and hurt for this girl, who is there primarily because a family member wouldn't step up and care for her in a time of crisis. He reminds the kids that she is a part of their group. She needs their support. She needs them to stick up for her when others at school choose to badmouth her. The kids are clearly hurting for her as well.
Kory then hands it over to Janelle and I. We are there to talk to them about light and darkness. More specifically, we are there to talk about the weapons that are used in Spiritual Warfare. It's a blessed time where we talk through the lies of Satan. They are interested... asking questions... hungry for the truth.
We laugh, we cry, we encourage each other.
Janelle and my Thursday Night spent with the Iron Sharpens Iron (ISI) group in the Keller Park Neighborhood was a thing of beauty.
It was beautiful to see Kory and Ali in their element.
It was beautiful to see the progress they are making for the sake of the Kingdom.
It was a beautiful sight to see two 24 year-olds who, for all practical purposes, have become the parents ten kids ages 11-17.
Read more about the Transformation, a ministry to the Keller Park Neighborhood on Kory and Ali's blog.