By: James Gillespie | Juvenile Justice Ministries
I have now been working for Youth for Christ for four months. During this time, I have been visiting Lookout Mountain Youth Services three to four hours a week. During the last two months, I have prayed that God would soften the hearts of these young, incarcerated men. Even with my own doubting heart, God answered my prayer.
I was able to become William’s official mentor. This allows me to meet with him one hour twice a week, attend his staff meetings with his client manager, behavioral health specialist, and parole officer. In my meetings with William, we talk about a lot of things: school, behavior during the week, visits with family, and we read scripture.
It was during our last scripture study, that I shared about my past struggles with organized religion and the personal struggles I had as a kid using drugs and alcohol – and this time William expressed interest in allowing Christ into his heart! I had imagined William’s heart like a sealed tomb, never to open. But during that visit, the stone from his tomb has been rolled away, and the Light has been let in. I was in awe to watch how William, under the cross of Jesus laid down his shame, guilt, and blame. He has been washed cleaned! He no longer needs to live bound by the sin that has plagued him for so many years. I am excited to see what God will do in his life next.
I have also begun meeting with another young man, Carter. I also meet with him twice a week and was given permission to meet with him on a day pass outside the facility. Carter volunteered at the Jefferson County Action Center food bank. Together we helped cleaned out a food storage warehouse. In addition to meeting Carter, I also met Colten. I gave Colten a Narcotics Anonymous Living Clean book. Colten is working on the first step of recovery which is to admit that he is powerless and unmanageable when drugs are in control of his life.
I cannot express how thankful I am for your prayer and support. It is prayer that is keeping me safe as I work in the facility and changing the hearts of these young men. Your monetary support has been used to purchase Bibles and other materials such as prayer cards which I will be passing out to each unit. Even though I felt discouraged at first, I am looking forward to vising these young men again and seeing what God has in store for them and me.
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.