Lessons from Detention

by DanWolgemuth on June 10, 2016

There are a lot of reasons why one of our staff members who works with incarcerated young people might get a call from the local Detention Center. The competence and confidence that years of faithful engagement brings engenders a level of trust that makes our Youth For Christ staff member a part of the team. But the call that Alex Matthew received from a nurse at the Juvenile Detention Center where Alex works was well beyond our expectation.

Quite simply the nurse wanted Alex to know that a number of the young people under her care at the center were opting to forego meals. Yes, they were fasting. And not as a sign of protest, but in solidarity of purpose. That purpose was to draw closer to the God that they had been hearing about from Alex.

These young juvenile offenders wanted more in their relationship with Christ; more in their pursuit of grace; more in the depth of their understanding… and so they opted to practice a spiritual discipline outlined in scripture. They turned their plates over so that their souls would hunger after the things of God.

It’s true.

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.” (Matthew 5:6)

Jesus said it. Blessed are those…

Blessed are young juvenile offenders who embrace the truth and power of grace with such furious faith that they engage a growling stomach to escort them to new levels of intimacy with God.

Blessed are the underage felons who embrace forgiveness while living inside the Justice system.

Blessed are these young men who no longer believe that a criminal record determines the destiny of their lives.

Blessed are those who hunger and thirst…

They will get what they are looking for. They’ll find satisfaction for their souls. They’ll come to understand with new levels of clarity that God hasn’t dismissed or abandoned them. They learned this because Alex shows up. Week after week after week. Alex shows up.

And so, the nurse calls. In disbelief. “They’re fasting.” Teenaged boys. Tough teenaged boys. Because food for their body isn’t enough. Because they want to learn what it means to be satisfied with Jesus. Because Alex Matthew showed them the way to a banquet table.

A table where justice meets grace. A table where love extinguishes hatred. A table where Jesus washes their feet.

A table of hope for the hopeless.

Yes, the nurse called… because the power of God’s love propelled these young men in a direction that the system never expected.

Yes, the nurse called because God moved.

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