May 2009 - Vol. 30

 by Natasha McCastle

I collapse on my twin-size bed in a new room, with boxes to be unpacked all around me. My family had 
to move – again! We were recently evicted yet from another home due to financial shortcomings. This has been my reality for the past five years. 

My name is Natasha McCastle and I’m a native of Detroit, Michigan. Like many growing up around me, 
I was raised by a single mother and often this was a struggle. But looking over my short eighteen years of life, I can easily see where God has protected and blessed me.

The first way I knew that God was at work in my life was through the elementary and middle school I attended. I went to Cornerstone Schools, a private institution with tuition reasonable enough for most middle class families to handle. However, these tuition payments should have been impossible for my mother, who had three children attending at the same time, but God somehow saw us through with the support and help of friends. Cornerstone offers a Christ-centered education, and while at the school, I was provided a basic understanding of God. Through Cornerstone I was also introduced to YouthWorks-Detroit – an organization and people who have greatly impacted my spiritual walk. It was during my eighth grade year at Cornerstone that I experienced losing a home for the first time. After this tragic event, I went into a state of shock and anxiety over my family’s financial situation. I began to be stressed over the lack of income and other things I had no control over. During this time, I had no real relationship with God. 

Once I entered high school, my housing situation became even less stable. In my 10th grade year, I moved a total of three times. No matter how many different homes we moved to, I never felt like any of them was my home. During this difficult time I was again introduced to YouthWorks-Detroit through the Gospel Lords youth group. In the beginning, it was just a time during the week where I could put all my stress aside and hang out with my friends, but it soon became much more to me. Because I was a member of the Gospel Lords, I was able to attend the Youth Equipped to Stand (YES!) retreat. 

God again stepped powerfully into my life at this retreat. At the YES! Retreat, for the first time ever, I was able to interact with youth who had a personal relationship with God. They had a real home!  Not the physical building – I’m almost sure they all had that – but a spiritual home. A place that didn’t charge rent, would not evict you, and would always be there. I wanted to be like them – to have a true home.  While at the retreat, I was prayed with and I asked God to give me his Holy Spirit. 

Following the retreat, I experienced an overhaul of emotions. I no longer feel anxiety over things that I cannot control, because I have given all of my problems to God. My faith in God and understanding of him have grown. I have made my home in him, and he is my stable shelter. 

“[The Lord will provide] a shelter and shade from the heat of the day, and a refuge and hiding place from the storm and rain.”  – Isaiah 4:6

Natasha McCastle is currently a senior at Martin Luther King, Jr. high school in Detroit, Michigan, USA. In the fall of next year she will attend Michigan State University to major in finance. Natasha has served this year as a volunteer staff worker for Youth Works-Detroit, helping to run the Bezalel Project after-school program, and serving as a leader in the youth group. After receiving her tax certification this yer, she also assisted a number of young people from the summer Street Team program by teaching them how to do their taxes. Her career goal is to become a financial analyst and her lifetime goal to create and operate a non-profit financial literacy program for youth within the city of Detroit. 
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