I had lunch with Keith Farmer, the director of Straight Street last week, and I must say that I was very impressed with what they’re doing. I’ve known Keith for five or six years but I haven’t been keeping up with him very well recently, so sitting down and hearing about all that God has been allowing them to do lately was very encouraging.

If you aren’t familiar with it, Straight Street is a ministry to at-risk youth in the Roanoke area. They define “at-risk youth” as a young person who is behaving in such a way that if a caring adult or peer does not step into their life with help, they stand a good chance of hurting themselves or others.

I think that might be a fair description of just about every teenager I’ve ever met, but Straight Street focuses directly on those kids with what might be perceived as the most needs. Teenagers who are being abused, who are struggling with drugs or alcohol, or who may have run away from home can find refuge at Straight Street. Keith has created a place that is accessible and non-threatening to kids who are in need.

He took me on a tour of the new facility they are building, and I can’t even express to you how great this place is going to be when they get it finished. They’ll have a huge living room area, a 50’s style diner, and enormous worship area with a really cool stage, a computer lab area (filtered and monitored), and even a shower and a place to crash for the teenager who isn’t safe at home.

All of that being said, I was most impressed by Keith himself. His attitude was a great encouragement to me. I’ve worked with people in the past who consider ministry to be a burden, people who talk about what other high paying jobs they could have had but instead lowered themselves to work with the poor and ignorant. Keith’s attitude was the opposite, and he talked about ministry as a privilege. He described the suffering teenagers he works with in a way that communicated respect for them despite their circumstances, and he seemed genuinely happy to be serving them.

If you have a minute, check out the Straight Street website, and if you are looking for a place to get involved with ministry in the Roanoke area I highly recommend giving Keith a call.