It’s 70 degrees outside. The sun is shining, and a warm breeze is in the air. After a long couple of weeks with cold, wet weather, the warm sun was a welcome sight.
I was ready to head inside the juvenile detention center to meet with a group of youth. When the staff greeted me at the gate we talked about the beautiful weather, and she offered for me to do group outside that day. Doing ministry at facilities isn’t always about the youth, it also includes relationships with the staff. I’m so grateful for these friends – we’ve built a mutual trust over the years of partnering together to help students. It may seem like a simple gesture to take a group of kids outside, but in here, it’s a big deal. They trusted me enough to take the students outside and hang out.
This particular day was perfect because I had planned a get-to-know-each-other trivia game. There were six youth and one staff who joined me outside and we spent the next hour and a half enjoying the sunshine, debating trivia questions, laughing, sharing, and forgetting for a short while that life isn’t that bad after all. Even the staff joined the game and showed a side of him that made these youth feel safe and secure.
Some days my time at detention is spent talking about the bible, biblical truths, and/or the challenges these youth are facing. Other times, however, its about serving both the youth and the staff by providing healthy, fun, relationship-building activities.
I’m lucky to be the one who gets to show these students how much they are loved. Your financial support and prayers have been keeping this ministry going for 50 years and we’re only getting stronger. I look forward to sharing with you our goals and vision for next month. And I hope you will join us as we celebrate 50 years of ministry and moving forward (50 & Forward Events).
This last Spring, the MvYFC team spent dedicated time going through a series of spiritual discipline exercises. We enjoyed using the practice of Lectio Divina, which you can read more about at https://intervarsity.org/blog/study-bible-through-lectio-divina . These were rich, reflective, and centering, and enabled us to refine what has now become our chapter mission statement, Bringing HOPE to the hopeless.
HOPE is an acronym of our four chapter values:
- H – Helpful service
- O – humble Obedience
- P – Purposeful relationships
- E – Effective service
During the month of April, Jen and I focused helpful service by going into several of the facilities to conduct interviews. Our goals were simple – we wanted to make sure that as our plans for the future develop, we weren’t making any assumptions about what their needs were. After all, our desire to provide helpful service pretty much fails if we get this wrong!
In a recent Board of Directors meeting, Jen and I were able to report the results of these interviews and we want to share them with you as well. Bottom line: we are needed, they want more of us, and our mission is relevant! Specifically, they are asking for MORE volunteers, MORE healthy social activities, MORE spiritual guidance for youth, and MORE encouragement to staff. We are thrilled and grateful to hear confirmation from these insiders because what they want is still exactly what we are passionate to provide.
As COVID protocols begin to loosen in these facilities, we have the green light to launch an endeavor to you that we are really excited about. This summer, we will be conducting what we are calling “50 & Forward” events. In a nutshell, we have been doing ministry in the mid-valley for 50 years and this milestone is worth celebrating! But rather than celebrating by doing a retrospective, we want to ask you to stand on that tall milestone with us so that we can use the high vantage point to look forward. Want to know what tomorrow holds for MvYFC? Register to attend one of these one-hour, inside-a-facility, see-the-story events. We promise that you will be inspired, challenged, and blessed.
Brenda Roth Ed.D.
Strategic Development Director
Bringing Hope to the Hopeless
Mid-Valley Youth for Christ
Juvenile Justice Ministry
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