This is Olivia Eady. We talked together in church (both services) yesterday (Oct 11, 2015). I have known Olivia for years but only recently I learnt about her hobby, no – her job, not quite a job, her volunteer un-paid, part time commitment. So with two different congregations watching on we had a conversation which went something like this.
Olivia – I am seventeen and a student in the second last year at Glendowie
College. My aim is to train to be a nurse.
Stan – Tell us about your part time job.
Olivia – Twice a month I do four-hour shifts as a phone counselor for ‘Kid’s Line’. This is a phone counseling service for children and teens, aged 6 – 16, who need someone to chat with. The young people who call up are always worried or troubled in some way.
Stan – How do they know to ring this help line?
Olivia –They are mostly referred by school counselors or doctors or they have seen leaflets about our service in schools or libraries. Most calls are ten minutes but some take much longer.
Stan – This must be demanding work. Why do you do it?
Olivia – I have had some dark times earlier in my life. People helped m,. listened to me and supported me. For me this is about giving something back and I am glad to do it.
Stan - Give us some examples of what the children and teens ring about.
Olivia. Bullying is a big issue. Another one has to do with parents breaking up. Young people often blame themselves for divorce and family problems. It can be lonliness or feeling ugly or inablility to cope with school work.
Stan – How do you help them? Do you give them advice?
Olivia – We never give advice. We listen carefully so they know we are taking them seriously. We will try and help them discover the options they are facing. The answer is always within themselves. Our role is to be there for them and to encourage them to find their insights and their solutions.
Stan – Many of us are aware of children and teens who for one reason or another are feeling isolated and finding life hard. Is there anything ordinary people like us can do to help them?
Olivia – If they are open to it, offer your friendship. Spend some time with them. Maybe go for a walk with them. Listen to them. Warm, everyday contacts can provide relief from pain and bring peace to troubled young lives.
As it happened on that morning the lectionary Bible reading I focused on was on Jesus the Great High Priest – Hebrews 4 14-16
These days, most people are not up to date with the role of a High Priest. Most religions tell the worshippers that if they have a concern to place before the almighty they will need someone – (commonly a priest or better still, a high priest) to take their concerns before the diety (god or gods). This person will need to have special training, special clothes, special smells, special words, special offerings, and probably go to a special place.
The essence of this passage Hebrews 4. 14-6, is that Jesus is the high priest for those who love and follow him, Jesus is our high priest. He enters the presence of all power and all holiness (God) on our behalf. The image of the typical high priest is a man of conspicuous righteousness and aloof beyond ordinary people. But Jesus, the believer’s high priest, is quite different. This reading says “Jesus feels sympathy for us as he was tried and tempted in all the ways as we are and yet without sin”. When it comes to our troubled lives, Jesus knows how it feels. He stands beside us as a companion who has experienced our troubles.
A core principle of ‘Kids Help Line’ is to listen to the callers with empathy. That is, with acceptance and with no hint of judgment. When Olivia answers calls the young callers quickly senses that they are not talking to someone who had no idea of how they were feeling. Through her voice and her tone these callers sense that the person on the other end of this phone line understands ‘my’ problems. She has personal knowledge of dark and difficult places.
Individuals who have found healing through love of Jesus must do the same. The gift of healing that we have to offer must be that of persons who have made mistakes, suffered and fallen.
I am reminded of a quote from the Catholic theologian, Henri Nouwen, the author of “The Wounded Healer’. He describes a true friend.
“A true friend can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing. One who can face with us our powerlessness. That is the friend who cares. This is the friend we need.”
Stan Stewart October 12 2015
Kid’s Line - 4pm to 9pm - 0800 54 37 54
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