REAL LIFE: Life in the Third Ward


Stories from my recent visit with Mike Malkemes at Generation One Ministries whose mission statement is “Dedicated to the physical and spiritual rebuilding of the Third Ward in Houston Texas”.


Many kids in the third ward live lives filled with constant chaos, where everything is unpredictable, many have a hard time trusting people, and they are exposed to extreme conditions which includes violence, gangs, drugs on a regular basis.


If you take third ward kids away from their neighborhood on an excursion (trips to the lake, etc), they loosen up and become kids as they begin to feel safe and let their guard down.

But then on the way home, darkness settles back in.  They tighten up and shut back down because of the chaos they know they are headed back to.  Their defenses kick in.  They become agitated and the walls come back up.  The begin to put on their front to keep everyone at a distance.


GenOne has 30 elementary aged kids in their school. Within a period of three weeks, almost half of them had an experience where a gunman broke into their house, or cops busted in  looking for an older brother.  Nine such experiences among 30 kids in three weeks.


Mike says, “many times as we help them get their head above water, some kind of chaos explodes back into their lives and knocks them back ten steps.”

Example: A little girl gets dropped off for school at Generation One in the morning.  When school is over, a staff person drives her home only to find out her house has been abandoned. The little girl stands on her porch staring into an emptied out house wondering where her family is.

Fortunately a relative drops by on a bicycle and says your family got evicted and had moved in with relatives over on such and such a street.



There is NO shortcut.  It takes TIME.
The formula is “love times time leads to trust, which then eventually leads to hope, which eventually leads to receptivity, which eventually leads to transformation.”

It took GenOne 2 years of painting houses and service and pouring love into the community before the first mom trusted them enough to talk to them.
The fruit is starting to show now, as 30 moms drop off their kids at the school each day. And numerous other ministry connections are now being made on a regular basis.


A kid with no hope won’t reach out and grab an opportunity even when you hand it to him on a silver platter.


You tell a third ward youth, who has been told his entire life that he will always be poor, “Just show up at 9 AM and you have a job and we will pay you”, but when 9AM comes, he doesn’t show up.  He might come at 3 PM. Or he might never come.  Or he might come on another day.

When you dig deeper and ask the right questions you find out why. It’s because he has no hope. No confidence in the job market.  No confidence in his future.

You can even tell him “show up ANY Monday at 9 AM and we will have work for you.” And he will never show up.

Without hope for the future you have no power in the present.


Some families in the inner city having never been tought how to manage their money and set priorities regularly find themselves getting evicted for not being able to pay the rent.


There are dozens of churches in the 3rd Ward who are disconnected from the community. The people who attend the local churches often times live in Katy, Sugar Land, Pearland and other suburban area’s. Having a historical tie to the church they drive in on Sunday morning.

With very few members from the community the churches have very little to do with the kids and families in the 3rd Ward.


Inner city school struggle to deal with the complications of educating at risk kids. The way the system is set up at HISD it leaves no time for the trauma the kids experience to be addressed. Many times the kids will go through something at home that will shut them down at school. The way the system is set up there is no flexibility to deal with the issues and the child is left behind.

Education is not highly valued in the community because the schools are not equipped to handle some of the extreme conditions the kids go through.  Therefore many kids who graduate often times are still at an elementary level.

Whether they graduate or dropout, more times than not they are not educated enough to move on to college or in some cases even get a job.

So school is looked at as just a place to send your kid so he doesn’t get in trouble.”


Kid says “I don’t ever want to grow up.”  When asked why, kid says “I don’t want to go to jail.”

When asked for the reasoning, kid says, ”Everyone I know who grows up goes to jail.”

Another example: A mom takes a financial budgeting class, understands it completely, but when a dollar comes in, she just gives it away or spends it immediately, gets rid of it. Why? Because her dad abandoned her family when she was little, went and made a bunch of money, dropped off bit of money occasionally and tells them, “Money just brings trouble.  You don’t want to have too much of it.”

She heard it so many times, that now she believes it and acts as if it were true.

The heart always over rules the brain. Even when people are trained and mentally they understand the concepts, the intellect will be overruled by emotions and the heart.


The good news is that God has placed Generation One and all of their volunteers and partners in the middle of this storm!  There is an answer and there is HOPE!

It comes in the form of a smile from a willing volunteer! God has given us one instruction to follow and that is To Love Them Through the Storm!  Generation One is not there to judge or condemn, but to love them to Jesus!  They are seeing hope come alive and lives transformed.  God transforms communities through the church one heart at a time!

Get involved with this awesome ministry on your own or by joining us at Adventure Sports Ministry when we visit / volunteer, and let’s help love a community to Jesus!