StandUp for Kids - Orange County
Dylan, a 20-year-old youth in our program, recently spoke at our StandUp for Kids Car Show. His experience in public speaking comes from his seven years attending Al-Anon/Alateen – a group offering recovery-related programs for friends and families of alcoholics. But in addition to simply gaining practical skills, he says that developing his public speaking abilities also required the courage to engage with people willingly.
A recent guest on our podcast, Dylan, did just that – courageously engaging with us to share his story for the benefit of anyone who might hear. "Even though some parts are miserable, I think there is a beautiful thing being made from my life story and experience. In the sense of redeeming things that have happened in my life that were tragic but are now used as fuel for perseverance – especially in my context of faith, for the glorification of God."
Dylan grew up in a household that was somewhat open to faith. However, he did not focus much on the idea of God. In high school, his insecurities led him to believe that others, including his church and the people there, did not understand reality as he did. He aimed to study music in college and overcome his difficulties by becoming a prodigy.
Dylan showing off his musical talents on the accordian
Dylan would soon turn away from his music after a series of trials, including the death of his mother and baby sister, bringing Dylan to the point of spiritual and physical homelessness.
He'd hit rock bottom – but his life began to change when people reached out to him.
When he was homeless as a high school senior, the same church that Dylan disliked offered him a job managing presentation slides for two sermons a week. Listening to service every Sunday for a year, Dylan gradually found himself opening up to scripture and faith; eventually, realizing that he had to change. Dylan chose to dedicate his life to Christianity in 2019.
"When I became homeless, I was separated from my family. . . I was on my own. In the Old Testament and New Testament, there are echoes of come home."
At the same time, StandUp for Kids was also able to support Dylan, connecting him with mental health resources, including therapy and psychiatric treatment. He's now open in sharing his story about his past with mental illness, striving to live his life loving and caring for others. Dylan is currently studying theology, hoping to become someday a pastor at a church, serving adults, college students, or youth. As part of the process, Dylan currently leads a weekly Bible study and is also learning how to become a mentor.
Dylan, second from left, with other members of his church
"(In homelessness, there is) brokenness and hurt relationships...faith calls us to come home in Christ. I now find so much more fulfillment in my future and what God is going to do in my life. . . I'm not at a point of leadership yet, but I can still lead through vulnerability and pain."
Dylan leaves a hopeful takeaway, reminding cynics and those who are lukewarm in faith that there is always a home for them to return to. "There are people out there who care about you. Even if you don't know it." To hear more directly from Dylan himself, please listen to ListenUp – The StandUp for Kids Podcast, Episode 20: You Gotta Have Faith.