What if one morning you woke up, but you weren’t in your own bed? You opened your eyes to see your own clothes, but your ears heard voices you didn’t recognize. The floor beneath you looked unfamiliar and as you stood up the events of yesterday came rushing back. Today you are in a new place. The food is bland. Going outside has become a privilege.
Fear. Sadness. Shock. Anger. Loneliness. Empty. These are just some of the emotions that might sear through your heart and mind.
I’ve tried to put myself in their shoes. Youth that find themselves living in a detention center as they wait to be placed with a potential family. They live in what is called the non-secure pod within the West Central Juvenile Detention Center. Most have committed no offense. Some have been waiting for a long time. All ask for prayer to have a family.
The reality is that for some, this pod is the safest place they’ve ever been. And while they are currently hidden from the world; they are not hidden from a God who loves them.
Each week we have the opportunity to do a bible study with them and every other Wednesday night we have church with them. I remember coming home one night after church at the detention center and sharing with my husband the sadness I felt over their situations. He paused for a couple minutes and then encouraged me with these words, “Your job isn’t to fix their situations, it’s to give them Jesus”.
That is what we have to give them… Jesus. Even if they weren’t in the situations they were in… even if they had a family and a safe home… they would still desperately need Jesus. This truth encourages me greatly because the fact is… I have no control over what happens to them. But I can teach them how to trust in God through whatever may come. I can tell them that if God gave the life of His one and only Son for them; He is trustworthy with the hard things they are facing.
At some point in each of our lives we will be faced with the question, “Is Jesus really enough?”
I can tell you that there have been many times in my life it didn’t feel like it. And as I leave the non-secure pod each week… it doesn’t feel like I’ve done enough. But the worth of Jesus can’t be reached by feeling alone. It must be arrived at by faith. Faith does not depend on whether a situation gets better… or worse.
Our hope is that each week God is using our team to build faith in the lives of the youth we encounter. It starts small… by simply showing up and being a consistent presence to them. Then we plant seeds through teaching them about God and His Word. We listen to their stories and seek to connect them with God’s story. We play fun games with them… like a family would. We pray with them and for them… and trust God to do the rest.