“Special” Boys

He’d never seen anything quite like Shane

Paul has been a Christian Service Brigade leader in his local church for 16 years. During that time he’s seen pretty much everything you can imagine when it comes to boys. He’s seen star performers, debilitating shyness, human loudspeakers, rambunctious and all points in between. However, he had never seen anything quite like Shane. “We were running a bus into town to pick up boys to come to our Brigade meetings,” explains Paul. “We had some rough boys. I was always stopping the bus to regain order. Shane was the worst of the bunch. He bullied other boys and really caused a lot of trouble.”

Shane had a difficult home life. There was a lot of abuse and Shane endured his share. Shane’s mother would even bring him to Paul’s house when his father couldn’t control his anger. She realized he was safer in the home of his mentor, than the home of his father.

Shane’s response was to act out in every possible way. Bullying, disrupting activities and making other boys uncomfortable. A day of reckoning awaited.

That day came when Paul and his fellow leaders sat down to talk about the situation. Asking Shane not to come back was an option openly discussed. This was difficult, however, because each man knew that Brigade was providing Shane with the only stability in his life. “We decided kicking him out wasn’t the right decision. We committed to continue working with him.”  Their decision to run that bus into town and stick with Shane payed eternal dividends.

About a year later, Shane approached Paul with a confession that stunned him. “He walked up to me and told me he had accepted Christ. I was shocked.”  Paul was skeptical, but Shane started to bear fruit. “Over time, he started to ask a lot of
questions and became more interested in the things of God.”  Shane even asked Paul to disciple him. Shane is now in his early twenties and is a leader in the Brigade unit.

The story doesn’t stop with Shane. Enter Ashton, a wild and out of control Stockader with a razor edged tongue. “He would just lose his temper in an instant” said Paul. One incident highlighted how volatile Ashton could be, and how badly he needed a man to take interest in his life.

During a Stockade meeting, Ashton lost control and yelled and cursed at one of the Brigade leaders. Not missing a beat the leader responded. He got down to Ashton’s level, looked him straight in the eyes and very sternly explained to him that Brigade members don’t curse, don’t disrupt, and they treat everyone with respect.

Just as quickly as he had spoken sternly, however, the leader changed his demeanor, placed his arm reassuringly around Ashton and walked him inside. Within just a few footsteps, Ashton rested his head on the leader’s side. In that moment he had found someone that really cared.

Like Shane, Ashton’s home life was a complete disaster. Social Services regularly visited the house and Ashton underwent the same types of abuse that Shane had endured. The similarities were not lost on Shane, now a Brigade leader. Paul explains, ‘I want to help with Ashton.’ “Shane said to me one evening” He saw himself in Ashton and felt like he could get through to him. A relationship developed over time and now it is common to hear Ashton ask his mentor, ‘What are we doing this weekend buddy?’”

But even as this important relationship was developing in Austin’s life bad news was on the horizon, Ashton’s mom informed Paul they would be moving. What she didn’t realize however, is that while Paul, Shane, and the other men in the Brigade ministry had planted seeds, God had caused roots to grow deeply in Austin’s heart. He knew, even in his young heart, just how important these relationships were to him. Paul told me what happened next,“When Ashton’s mom told him they were moving, he refused,” Paul said. “He told her that if they moved, that meant he couldn’t go to Stockade.”  He spoke from the heart, “The men there really love me!” Realizing that moving would take away the only positive male influences in her son’s life, she made the radical decision to stay.

Ashton’s Brigade story is not over. The same boy that cursed at a leader now hugs them when he sees them out in public. Thank God for men like Paul, Shane, and others who will be there to love and train boys who need it so badly.

We see in this story how our lives are a lot like dominoes. Paul chose to invest in the life of Shane. Shane’s life then crashed into Austin, changing  him forever. God’s not done with Austin either. Because of the modeling he has experienced in CSB we look forward to seeing how God uses this boy to impact the lives of others.

Related Articles