Are those fireworks or gun shots? This is a question that so many of our families are asking themselves as they shelter in place, a question that Lauren’s family was asking just the other night as seven individuals were shot in front of their home. We live in a time of uncertainty with COVID-19 and unprecedented violence, and our youth are crying out as they are scared and uncertain on where to turn.
For Lauren and her family, Rick and Sarah, Albany City Life was there for them. Through the coordinated efforts of many, we were able to organize a family get away for Lauren and her family, to go the Lake George area, to get them out of the city to find peace and comfort. Like many of our families, transportation is not easily accessible which limits their ability to escape, but Albany City Life stepped in and provided transportation. We pulled up to Lauren’s house, loaded them up and hit the road. The ride was a quiet and somber drive as the family processed the life they were leaving behind. When asking Lauren what she was most looking forward to with this trip, she said she was excited to get away from the loud city and to be able to go outside and have fun, and not to be scared.
After their time away, the ride home was completely different, Lauren, Rick and Sarah were relaxed and rested. The scared eyes they had when loading the car to leave for the trip, were replaced with happy, optimistic eyes, smiles from ear to ear and the hope that they as a family could face the reality of living in the city once again. The car ride back was full of excitement, laughter and the hope of a better future. The trip ended with a prayer of protection over the family and their home. Sarah and Rick were so appreciative and thankful for the love, support, prayers and encouragement that came from strangers. No longer did they feel alone in the world, but saw a community come around them in love and support.
At Albany City Life, it is our mission not to just reach lost youth for Christ, but we know that these youth have families and we want to reach them with the love of Jesus too. Although this is a tragic event that occurred in the City of Albany, we were able to come through and support not just the youth, but their family as well. The connection was made, and an invitation was extended to church and follow-up has occurred. Lauren has continued to come to Albany City Life events. She comes weekly to our horseback riding programming, which allows her to escape the city once a week to relax in a supported environment where she can feel safe, be herself, and it provides us with the opportunity to share the love of Jesus with her, so that she knows where she can to turn to, Jesus.
*Names have been changed