Program Combats Hopelessness Among Inner-City Youth

By David Roach

At 2:59 p.m. outside a former Beechwood Street church, young Dorothy sits, waiting. For her, this abandoned Detroit church is a place of refuge.

Dorothy lives in a methamphetamine home -- her guardians produce and sell meth around her every day. They have neglected to provide Dorothy basic needs such as clean clothes and food. But at 3 p.m., a S.A.Y. Yes! (Save America's Youth -- Yes!) center begins inside the church.

S.A.Y. Yes! centers provide after-school mentoring and tutoring for inner-city youth who constantly face the threats of poverty, drugs and violence, encouraging them to begin a relationship with Jesus Christ. It was here that S.A.Y. Yes! staff members changed Dorothy's life by cleaning her face, doing her hair and helping with homework.

"When someone cares for and loves you, it gives you confidence and helps you be who God wants you to be," says Joy Davis, Detroit's S.A.Y. Yes! coordinator.

Because of the S.A.Y. Yes! center, Dorothy's grades improved and she has accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior after watching The Story of Jesus for Children DVD.

"God directed my steps to work with S.A.Y. Yes!" says Joy, "and I have felt God's hand in my life from the beginning. He hasn't stopped blessing and reassuring me that the calling He has on my life is from Him."

Today there are 9 S.A.Y. Yes! centers hosted by inner-city churches in Detroit.

Joy calls today's youth an "endangered species" because their generation is in danger of losing hope. Through the work of S.A.Y. Yes! centers, children like Dorothy have somewhere to turn when their hope is gone.