By: Tim Butler | Chaplain, Juvenile Justice Ministries
“Henry” and I made eye contact as soon as I walked onto his unit. – course, that’s all we could do since everyone has to wear a mask. After I introduced myself, I asked him if we had ever met, and he responded, “Yeah, I remember you from two years ago.”
Henry gave me permission to sit on the couch, and it wasn’t long before we were having a tender conversation, despite other residents being within ear shot. He told me he had been driving high on drugs just a few days before, and when the paramedics tried to put him in an ambulance, he fought with them and the cops who were on the scene. Because he tried to grab the gun of one of the cops, he was charged with a couple felonies…not good for a youth who is 17.
During my years as Chaplain, I’ve seen countless tattoos on the arms, faces and necks of young people, and usually, they are either family or gang related. But Henry’s were different, and the darkness of the messages matched his black fingernails. Tattoos always tell a story, and so I asked him “What’s your favorite tattoo?” Without a moment’s hesitation, he put his hands together, and the letters on his clinched fists spelled “HOMESICK.”
Through a muffled voice and some tears, Henry shared about his life on the streets and the rejection of his parents. After a few moments of silence, he asked, “How did you get God in your life?” For a few minutes, I shared my story, being careful to say the faith of my parents didn’t save me – I had to make a personal decision to become a Christ-follower.
Since that initial conversation, Henry and I have talked at length on a couple occasions, and we’ll have more conversations before his next court date the end of this month. Henry needs the real peace and redemption from the sin-caused abuse and self-harming behaviors he’s lived with for 11 years; and I’m praying he will soon become a Christ-follower too.
Because you were there for the ministry 2 years ago, I was there for Henry. And because you are still investing and praying, I was there for him again, going where others can’t.
Thank you for your participation in the eternal work that Jesus is doing in the lives of young people like Henry. Jesus is glorified by your faithfulness and intercession.