An Authentic, Transforming Relationship

May 1, 2019


By: Tim Butler | Chaplain, Juvenile Justice Ministries 

I stepped into a locked unit just in time to catch the last part of a conversation between Brian and a teenager named Chris, and this is what I remember Chris telling Brian: You’ve changed my life so now I can change others like my mom.” 

Was it a conversation between a youth and his YFC mentor?  Hardly.  The “conversation” was part of a Family Guy cartoon guys were watching one afternoon!  And Brian, according to Wikipedia, is “a witty, smoking,  sarcastic, English-speaking anthropomorphic dog.”  

 YFC has declared that engaging one million young people between the ages of 11 and 19 in authentic Christ-sharing relationships is our all-encompassing national goal, and it’s shaping every aspect of the ministry.  The planning and work needed to get to the one million young people is challenging, but “the one” makes it so worthwhile even after 40+ years of ministry!  Young people like… 

Isaac (19) – we first met when he was 15, and he was a frequent “guest” at one of the short-term facilities where I serve as Chaplain.  Parts of his story – like drug use and homelessness – were hard to hear, but he’s always sought me out for some great conversations about faith and his relationship with Christ.  During our last meeting before he was paroled, we spent about an hour going over a budget since he’s now living on his own in west Denver.  

“Kari” (17) has been a frequent resident at two facilities because she keeps picking up new drug-related charges in different counties. During our conversation one Wednesday afternoon, she admitted that she’s losing the battle with heroin, and fears that someday she will overdose for the last time.  Yet, she’s still not ready for the real life change that Christ offers… 

I’ve not seen Jahlil (19) since his sentencing 2 years ago, so our relationship exists through the letters we often send each other.  (He’s serving 20 years at a state penitentiary and a few times a year, I send him a “care package” or add money to his account.)  In his last letter, he wrote “I’m really in a depressed mind state.  I don’t know why this [picking up more charges] is happening to me. I don’t know where I’m at with God.”  

Like the Family Guy cartoon, our world has nothing that even resembles an authentic, transforming relationship, especially the one Jesus offers.  He is always at work drawing lost young people to Himself, and each one is important.  Your partnership tells us that they are important to you as well! 

Thank you for being a part of the ongoing conversation with youth in our city and helping us share God’s story.  It’s our honor to be the storytellers on your behalf who meet kids right where they are and give life to their story. 

Providing young people in our community with the opportunity to make an informed decision to be a follower of Jesus  Christ and become part of a local church.