The final entry in my three part series on ministering to adolescents facing court and/or incarceration went live today over at YouthMinistry.com! It was a challenging series for me to write; the first one dealt with ministry to young people facing a judge from the perspective of the youth worker, the second from the perspective of the family in the midst of it all (probably the most difficult article I’ve ever written due to the personal nature of it), and the third one is more of a practical how-to guide to visiting and ministering to teens who are incarcerated. Anyway, here’s the opening (you can find the full article here):
Incarcerated adolescents. Easily one of the more forgotten segments of our population. Without access to cell phones, texting, Facebook, or Skype, they feel truly cut off, whether they’re in jail, juvenile detention center, group home, or whatever else the terms of their sentencing require. They are cut off from the world and the reality is, as much as their friends and even family may promise otherwise, they oftentimes find themselves alone with an empty mailbox and no visitors. It is brutal.
It’s amazing. That same kid that ignored your talks, caused problems on retreats, and generally behaved like someone who would eventually end up where he is, will be an entirely different person when you show up to spend an hour with him. He’ll listen, open up, be excited to see you and reluctant to say goodbye. He’ll write letters to you, ask you to pray, and want to know when you can make it again.
We are wired for community and connection, and our correctional system starves young people of both. To me, it seems like a non-negotiable that we be present for these young people, whether that means finding someone to connect with them and is willing to view that connection as an ongoing ministry, or being that person ourselves.
Find the rest of the article here, and let me know what you think!