A new nonprofit ministry is holding a Comedy Café on Oct. 4 to raise funds and awareness about its efforts to reach out to hurting and troubled teens.

Deliver Hope has been in existence for about a year but only recently received its official nonprofit status. Daniel Tyler of Conway is the founder and executive director of the ministry and explained how it came about.

Tyler grew up in Conway as an at-risk young person. His difficulty with making right decisions resulted in being in and out of the Faulkner County Detention Center. As a senior in high school, he became a Christian and realized there was a greater purpose for his life, he said. He began to pursue a life in ministry and spent several years in Wisconsin as a youth pastor. Soon, however, he felt the tug to return to Conway to reach out to those desperate teens still living life in and out of the detention center.

"When hope is brought into a young person’s life, they’ll change the world," he said.

The ministry plans to offer mentoring programs for teens in institutions (such as the detention center, correctional facilities, etc.) and also for teen moms. Hope Courses will be offered to help teens struggling with issues such as depression, anger, addictions and eating disorders. Finally, the ministry plans to build The Hope House, which will provide transition-aged youth (ages 18-24) with stable housing for up to 12 months.

Tyler said a lot of at-risk young people are those who have been emancipated from foster care or whose families are part of the problem. Mentoring is the most important issue for most of the teens, he said, noting 44 percent of young people in Faulkner County do not have a positive male role model in their lives.

"We want to inspire young people to dream beyond their circumstances, to excel beyond their disadvantages and to become the person God created them to be," Tyler said.

He added, "I’ve heard from people in Conway that they didn’t know that much brokenness existed, they didn’t know there were that many kids in jail, or that there was a juvenile detention center at all. It’s amazing how many young people I meet that are in a really broken place in life, and as we talk to them, they start to open up about their issues. I tell people, ‘Before you judge somebody’s choices, you should see what their options were.’"

Comedian Jonnie W. will entertain at the Comedy Café at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 4 at Conway First Church of the Nazarene at 1501 Scott St. Coffee and desserts will be served. Admission is free. There will be an opportunity to support the ministry with donations.

(Staff writer Rachel Parker Dickerson can be reached by email at rachel.dickerson@thecabin.net or by phone at 505-1236. To comment on this and other stories in the Log Cabin, log on to www.thecabin.net. Send us your news at www.thecabin.net/submit)