Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Youth Group on a Mission

Newspaper article Tweed Daily News (Tweed Heads, Australia)

Youth Group on a Mission

Article excerpt

Byline: Laura Nelson

A FEW years ago, Jayden Howard was in the depths of despair and loneliness, living on the streets, doing drugs and involved with gangs.

Today, he is clean, has healthy relationships and his life is on track.

His transformation is nothing short of miraculous, particularly when youth drug and mental health issues are soaring on the Gold and Tweed Coasts.

The 20-year-old attributes his lifesaving change to the friendship, male mentoring and stability he has found at Youth With A Mission (YWAM) Gold Coast -- and a new-found faith.

Jayden's story is not unusual among youth - raised by an Ipswich foster family, he said he felt like he never fitted into society.

He subsequently rebelled, smoked pot and tried LSD for a few months. He joined a gang of 18-22-year-olds who roamed the streets of Ipswich and he eventually became homeless.

"I didn't know how to survive or how to get out of my situation. No- one helped me until I moved in with a really decent family at Upper Coomera and I met some people at a YWAM coffee van," he said.

The Christian not-for-profit reaches out to the city's broken people at Southport and Jayden joined one of YWAM's youth mentoring programs (Discipleship Training School) for surfers and skateboarders.

He thrived in his new environment, graduated and for the past few years, he has been living in a house YWAM rents, while being taught life skills by male mentors such as YWAM Gold Coast director David Bartsch.

Jayden now works part-time as a barber and roof repairer and he said life was good.

"I would like more work but I am doing so well. Life has its challenges but I have more peace in my heart and I'm with people who actually love other people and want to help them. They are really supportive," he said.

Mr Bartsch said Jayden's story was not uncommon on the Gold Coast and he believes a major problem among local young men is a lack of confidence. …

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