News & Updates

Youth for Christ horizontal logo Mid Valley Chapter
Youth for Christ horizontal logo Mid Valley Chapter

Dear friends,

New beginnings…it’s what most of us think of when we flip our calendars from one year to the next. It definitely comes to mind for me and each January, I breathe a sigh of relief when I’m able to wrap up the busyness of the holiday season and turn my attention to a brand-new year.

As a Youth For Christ chapter, we are celebrating the accomplishments of 2023 which include an increase in the number of incarcerated youths that we were able to build relationships with, resumption of our annual golf challenge fundraiser, and the exciting development of partnerships with new supporters in the community. Significantly, we were also able to end the year well – and for that we thank ALL of you!

And the freshness of 2024 holds even more promise! New volunteers are coming on that will enable us to increase our youth contacts; a reset of our financial systems will result in better stewardship; and as an executive director, I have entered into a six-month coaching relationship that has the potential to transform both my leadership and the health of this chapter.

With new steps come new challenges, however, and so as you look at your prayer lists, I would request that you add a few on our behalf:

  • That our volunteer on-boarding will quickly translate into meaningful youth connections.
  • That our financial system re-org efforts will be smooth and intuitive.
  • That my coaching challenges will be personally invigorating and organizationally rich.

Blessings to you in this new year!

Jennifer Berg

Jennifer Berg

Executive Director


Bringing Hope to the Hopeless

Mid-Valley Youth for Christ
Juvenile Justice Ministry

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“Thank you for coming today…
I can’t remember the last time I smiled or laughed.” (15-year-old male)

During one of my recent trips to detention, I was disappointed to learn that only three youth requested to attend my group when I knew there were a total of 12 in the facility. The staff escorting us to the classroom was also surprised and asked a colleague, “Did you tell them it was Jen, and that she has licorice?!” Armed with this new information, the second staff member went back to the youth and soon, more than half of the 12 were settling into their seats, ready for the treat that earned me the nickname “The Licorice Lady” over a decade ago.

You might remember that when I do group at detention, I’m frequently meeting with a revolving door of youth because this is a temporary holding facility. So, while I can’t easily do Bible studies or engage in on-going mentoring relationships like I can with youth in long-term facilities, the good news is that in this more introductory context, I can use good materials on frequent repeat. And one of my favorite selections is to grab anything that Christian comedian Tim Hawkins produces because of how humor (in combination with licorice!) breaks down walls. On this night, the video’s main point set up a great conversation with questions from the youth such as, “Will God still love me despite some things I’ve done?” What I love about this (frequently asked) question is just how surprised the youth become when I say that God loves them no matter who they are, or what they have done (Romans 8: 38-39).

That night after the video, I was able to meet one-on-one with a 15-year-old young man who thanked me for coming because he hadn’t felt joy for longer than he could remember. Being able to bring a smile to the heart of a young person who has forgotten what it is like to feel happiness is both a burden and an amazing privilege. Thank you for participating with me in delivering the Good News to incarcerated youth in our community.

I’m grateful for your commitment to this ministry, and I wish you and your family a fantastic Thanksgiving holiday.

Bringing HOPE to the hopeless.

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