If you’ve said a prayer for the Buddies, let me tell you about some of the things that you have helped us to accomplish. We’ve saved a few lives, we’ve made a lot of friends, we’ve talked to a lot of youth about the really important stuff in life like God, love, death and forgiveness. Laura Chapman recently shared a fantastic experience that she had one evening while walking with the Street Buddies on Rudolfskai in downtown Salzburg. It was an encounter that started like so many others. One young man was leaning over the railing like you do when you realize that your body isn’t used to half a bottle of vodka in it, and his friend was supporting him from the side, both facing the river.
As Laura reached into her bag for a bottle of water to give to the guy leaning over the rail, she realized that the young man was in tears. He wasn’t throwing up, which would have been typical, but he was in deep sorrow. The boy explained that it was the anniversary of his mother’s death and that even though he was drinking, he was missing her. Laura, mother of two fantastic kids herself, was just about to join in the sobbing when she asked if she could put her arms around him and hug him. He was shy about it, but said she could. He held on tight and seemed to be in no hurry to let go. We do a lot of hugging out there. We give out a lot of water, paper towels, and candy, but the hugs are the best.
It is true that we prepare every Saturday night by making sure we have all the right stuff with us, but I firmly believe that the most valuable thing we bring is LOVE. On many nights we run out of water and candy and sometimes flip flops to give away, but let it never be said that we spare our love. For we come with the love of the Father! That love might look like hugging a weeping boy. It might look like tying someone’s urine-soaked shoe laces or high-fiving a whole group of drunk teens. It is in response to what God has done for us and what He continues to do in us as we walk up and down the Kai. I hope in this letter you will see something new. This is all new to us! This love of which we speak isn’t something you’ll understand from a book or even this letter; it’s something that happens to you. For us, it happens on Rudolfskai.
If you are ready to step out in LOVE, please contact us! At this time, we only have enough Street Buddies to cover Saturday nights. It is our goal to form teams that will serve on Friday nights as well. We need folks who can commit to serving on the street at least once each month. But once you try it, you’ll want to get out there as much as possible. Let’s work together, and pour God’s love out on the city of Salzburg!