A Thousand Screaming Mules
In the wake of Ty and Terri's unexpected death a few weeks ago, I found myself reading Ty's book A Thousand Screaming Mules for the first time. The title comes from an expression of love towards his children - how "a thousand screaming mules" couldn't take him from their lives. However, this expression found new meaning as he began to develop a father's heart toward the fatherless and hopeless youth of North Omaha. This book chronicles this transformation in his heart - which ultimately leads him to start The Hope Center for Kids - an exceptional after school program in the heart of the hood, loving at-risk children through education, employment, collaboration and faith.
Instead of giving you my own thoughts and feelings about Ty's book - I thought I would let Ty talk for himself. Below you'll find some of the quotes that inspired me the most - unedited and unfiltered. In them, you'll get a small glimpse of the burden he felt for African American people and North Omaha - as well as his realization of subconscious racism and fear in his own heart. His unwavering hopefulness, honesty and fatherly love shine through every word. I hope these quotes challenge and inspire you out of your comfort zone, and to a life of greater love and repentance.
If you are interested in reading more - I urge you to read the whole book. Especially for those who actually knew Ty - you'll find this glimpse into his heart especially captivating and vibrant. A portion of every purchase goes toward The Hope Center for Kids.
“I have a father’s heart for the orphan—and a lot of kids in North Omaha have distant dads or no dads at all. I think that if a kid feels the love of a father, his or her whole world changes, the safety net is in place, the future looks a bit brighter, and peace settles on the soul. I want the Hope Center to stand in that “dad gap” when it’s needed.”
“Hopelessness of the heart kills the ability to dream."
“My heart becomes burdened when I hear about the last several decades of decisions that were forced on the African-American community. I care. I can’t ignore it. I want to be a part of seeing history made right, especially on behalf of the kids. It wouldn’t make sense to be mad, but I am burdened. I know I want to do what God has asked me to do. I know I’m supposed to be a part of the lives of kids. That part I get.”
“If you want to understand a lot of kids in my community, let me give you a phrase: To the one who lives in hopelessness, consequences mean nothing.”
“I’ve met young people in North Omaha who believe they are not going to live past age twenty-seven. And if they do live past age twenty-seven, they think they will be serving time in jail for the remainder of their years. If this is your mindset, why wouldn’t you join a gang? At least it would give you something to do with your short life, a way to make some money and even have a sense of brotherhood”
“At first it was hard to face, but I began to become deeply and profoundly aware of my own racism. And then I went even further and admitted it. I acknowledged the deeply embedded beliefs, mindsets, and attitudes that I had about blacks. I was guilty of having a superior mindset toward black people. I was guilty of telling and laughing about black stereotypes and black jokes. I was guilty of clumping all black people into one category. That category was an ugly one: poverty, single-parent families, crime, drugs, and gangs”
“I can’t say that the journey has always been without fear; I still struggle at times. But as I’ve grown, I’ve become accustomed to letting love win. In the beginning it took a lot of love—God’s love for the kids, my love for the vision, and other people’s love for me—to push all the fears out. I am thankful that the love has always been greater than the fear.”
“Sometimes the enemy of faith is logic. Logic is important, but it has governed people and organizations for too long. With a vision as big as what was in my heart, faith was going to have to overrule logic.”
“I frequently say, “I don’t know what I’m doing, but I know I’m doing what God told me to do.”
“Sometimes I feel as if our culture here in America is like a microwave. We almost expect to get what we want when we want it, instantly. We value the goal more than the process. When the process takes a long time or when the process is difficult, we tend to just want it to be over. But that’s not how life works. Stubborn hope hangs in there for those who are hanging by a thread, until they can hope for themselves. It doesn’t give up when life becomes overwhelming. This describes a bit of the culture of the Hope Center. We’re marinating his love (not cooking it at top speed) and simmering to savor our commitment in the lives of kids.”
“So often, when we look at all the challenges in our inner cities, we focus on “fixing” the negative. If we don’t change our approach, we will miss out on so many wonderful things taking place in North Omaha and inner cities throughout the U.S., because there are so many strengths and talents at work.”
“I believe the day is coming when North Omaha will be a destination location: businesses coming to the community, new home construction, jobs, vibrant music and culture, foot traffic, kids riding their bikes … many coming into the community because there’s hope there. People will come to North Omaha and stay. Someday the kids will never again have to ask their now ever-present question, “You guys leaving? You guys gonna come back?”