April 2017 Newsletter

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Dear Friends,                                                                                                                                                                     April 2017

I’d like to tell you about a couple conversations I’ve had at the Juvenile Detention Center recently. The first was with a young man named Tony. After arriving in one of the units and being introduced, he came up to me and asked if we could talk. We usually start by making small talk and simple introductions. What struck me the most was how much he looked like a little kid who got caught with his hand in the cookie jar – sheepish, guilty, and scared but humble. I was delighted because that’s how I know the soil of his life is ready to receive the seeds of truth. He just waited for me to speak the truth to him. It’s a very sacred moment that God is getting him ready to just receive. A lot of these young men are in the wrong place, at the wrong time, with the wrong people, doing the wrong thing. I just have to break that chain of wrongs and point him into a new direction: You have no business being in those places. You need to listen to mom and dad because nothing good happens after dark in those parts of town. You are going to become like the friends you hang out with. It’s important to say no to people when they are moving towards doing something stupid (illegal, unethical, immoral and land you in jail). He is a young man in his teens trying to be 25 and prove he is a man – a recipe for disaster. I painted a new picture of his life and where he is headed and what he was becoming but also where he could be headed and choosing to become. It’s important to know that we all become who we are by the choices we make. He really responded well. He especially reacted when I started speaking about his family. He loved them and was distancing himself from them by his behaviors. I reminded him how important they are and will be for the rest of his life. Whatever he thought was important, they were more so. He would even talk about them and smile that big broad smile when he talked about their games nights and all the fun they have. I have since spoken to him again and he has kept his same posture of humility. I have high hopes for him. He even thanked me and told me he needed that talk.

A young lady named Melissa asked to speak with me when I showed up at the ladies unit. All the young men and women at this facility have done some pretty nasty stuff and I would probably try to avoid them on the street if I saw them a couple months earlier. First impressions are important and I have learned to trust my gut, until I am proven wrong. She seemed hard, easily talked into doing wrong behaviors, self-justified and entitled. But she listened intently and respectfully. She seemed to cut things short, and graciously shook my hand to say thank you. I don’t know how much she received because that is God’s business. But she heard someone fighting for her freedom and how she doesn’t need to compromise herself in any way to feel important or belong to a certain group of people. It’s an important message. There is a way to walk free of people, situations and ourselves. It’s Jesus.

I had another conversation with a young man who asked if we could talk. Here is a young teen who has been in foster homes since he was five, one after the other. He has been in contact with his birth parents recently, although they originally gave him up because of their drug issues. Wow! He told me he had been praying for his family a long time and nothing has even come about that he is aware of. Then he asks the big question – ”Where is God?” He is a really sharp kid and I’m asking for prayer on how to respond to his heart questions. We will be talking soon. Please pray for these kids and me!

Grace and Peace,

Phil & Jane