Have you ever tried to eat a leafy, green salad with a spoon? When I go to detention, I have to toss the plan I walk in the door with and adjust to what’s been going on behind those locked doors. Recently, when I showed up, I discovered that most of the youth were being extra naughty and had lost the privilege to attend my group. So, with just two young men, the discussion topic I had organized wasn’t going to work and so I decided to order some fun instead.
Purposeful relationship-building can occur through planned conversation but also through shared laughter. As we played Farkle (dice game) and ate lots of red licorice, our laughter broke down their walls and enabled us to have an unplanned, but meaningful conversation. In fact, things were going so well that the staff allowed us to continue over dinner – which was unusual.
Until starting into my salad, I had not ever paid attention to the fact that these youth are not allowed to have forks at mealtime because of their risk for use as potential weapons. And as I struggled to scoop the leafy greens, I realized that eating was going to require purposeful effort.
On the second half of this letter our Development Director talks about our core value of Purposeful Relationships and this example came to my mind. Building relationships with incarcerated youth is sometimes about the plan but more often, it’s about seizing whatever moment is presented – sometimes it’s about eating your salad with a spoon.
I want to be purposeful in seizing moments with the youth and I want to be purposeful with you, too. One of the ways I can do this is by offering you a chance to come see the story. With the assistance of staff at our ministry site locations, we’ve been given the opportunity to give you a tour and share our vision for the future. We are celebrating 50 years of ministry in the Mid-Valley and are excited about what is on the horizon. So come see the story for yourself and join us for a tour at Marion County Juvenile Detention (Salem) and Linn/Benton County Juvenile Detention (Albany).
We have all the information on our website at www.mvyfc.org for you to sign up for a tour and conversation. These tours and conversations will be no longer than 60 minutes. Our goal is for you to see the impact we are having at each facility but also, how we can do more to reach lost youth and how you can be a partner in these efforts.
We are super excited to head into the Fall with new visions, partners, and more youth coming to know Jesus personally. By being purposeful with all our relationships we’ll be able to provide another 50 years of ministry and I’m convinced a new spark will be ignited and God will move and more lives will be changed.
Here are a few dates to consider signing up for.
Linn/Benton County Detention – July 20, 24, 27, 31 all at 7pm
Marion County Detention – We are working on some dates, if you are interested, please contact the office at firstname.lastname@example.org.
P.S. Go check out our NEW website at http://www.mvyfc.org where there’s information and opportunity to give, pray, and stay connected to the growth in these communities. To donate financially you can click the GIVE button below for a direct connection.
“Bringing HOPE to the hopeless” is a mission statement that both inspires and guides our work. And as you may recall, HOPE is an acronym representing our chapter values:
- H – Helpful service
- O – humble Obedience
- P – Purposeful relationships
- E – Effective service
I’ve talked about Helpful service and humble Obedience in previous letters and this month, I want to share a bit about our Purposeful relationship goals.
Some of our relationships are the by-products of proximity – we build friendships with people we work with, live next to, or who habitually occupy the same pew at church! Other relationships do not occur unless we go out of our way to foster them. One is not better or healthier than the other, but they do require different energies from us if they are to thrive. Certainly, going into the facilities to meet youth requires an intentional effort – there’s no proximity convenience here! As we meet with youth, our ultimate purpose is to introduce them to Christ. But as you can imagine, not all are immediately receptive to the Gospel. And so we purposefully work to gain their trust and earn the right to be heard – sometimes through group-oriented fun and games, other times through one-on-one conversations about individual hurts and needs.
We also seek to purposefully build relationships with staff and administrators. These men and women work HARD and for the most part, demonstrate a genuine care for, and belief in these youth. But this work can be grueling and so we consider it part of our mission to be a blessing to them as well. We take time to ask about their personal lives and interests, and we are intentional to sit and engage with them vs. simply rush to be with the youth. Over the years, these staff relationships have blossomed and as some enter into higher leadership roles in the County and State, have served to open doors that otherwise would have remained closed.
Scripture has a lot to say about being purposeful in our relationship building. We know from…
- Romans 12 that we are members of the same body;
~ which means honoring what we have in common vs. yelling at each other about our differences.
- Ecclesiastes 4 that we are stronger when we work in harmony
~ which requires the selfless work of compromise and collaboration.
- Proverbs 27 that we are to sharpen one another
~ which means there will be friction and sparks!
- I Peter 4 that we are use our gifts to serve each other
~ which requires grace, humility, and a genuine curiosity about each other’s needs.
We believe that when we build purposeful relationships, it will result in Authentic Christ-sharing opportunities. And so we build…
Strategic Development Director
Bringing Hope to the Hopeless
Mid-Valley Youth for Christ
Juvenile Justice Ministry
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