Love Worth Finding offers a Biblical training certificate program for incarcerated believers using Dr. Adrian Rogers’ Back to the Basics series. Here’s how it works for one dedicated volunteer.
“Mr. C” is a Christ-follower, is Committed, and is always up for a Challenge.
The names and places in this story are changed to protect the privacy of others in the story—children of the culture who would naturally garner the remark, “There but for the grace of God go I.”
Just imagine a teen you know in the following situation described by Mr. C: “He was 15 years old and had two younger siblings and his mom sent him to the store to steal some food. She gave him her gun, so he went to the store to steal and the owner started shooting at him. He shot back. He killed the guy. He’s 15 years old and he’s altered his life forever.”
Most of us can’t imagine such scenarios in our neighborhoods. Our children get into major trouble for posting something untoward on social media, provoking an argument at school, or vaping in the parking lot—serious concerns to be sure, with unhealthy implications, but not life-altering if caught early and corrected.
A longtime friend of Love Worth Finding, Mr. C understands that when the children he works with court trouble, the stakes are much higher. He began working with such children in 2016. It started as a ministry visit with a friend. Mr. C, a musician, took his instrument with him to a juvenile facility that houses three to four dozen boys who’ve committed crimes serious enough that they will be held for sentencing as adults.
It was supposed to be a one-time trip to play some music.
“When I walked in, I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit,” Mr. C recalls. “Before I left, I knew God was speaking to me and saying, ‘You need to come back.’ So, I got a case of Bibles. I took them back to the boys and I thought that was it. But the Holy Spirit said, ‘No that’s not what I meant. I meant you need to visit with these boys.”
The Lord led Mr. C to begin The Joseph Ministry, named after the Biblical Joseph, whom God remembered while in prison. Each month now, Mr. C and several other volunteers put together a “juvenile jailhouse jam” using a variety of music—jazz, pop, rock, Christian rap—and present the gospel to the teens assembled. “We play for them, feed them, sit down and eat with them, and get to know them.”
Based on responses, a smaller group of interested teens is culled for the once-a-month certificate program using LWF resources.
“Joseph had a dream, so we try to help the boys find their dreams; scripture memory is a big part of that,” Mr. C said. “It’s not like teaching any Sunday School class you’ve ever taught because these kids are not familiar even with the basics of Christianity.” Still, the students are eager to learn and have the same desire to positively impact others as you would find in any strong youth group. The young disciples recently broke records for scripture memory when Mr. C. found donors who would give students a dollar for each scripture memorized, with the money going toward the purchase of water purifiers for an African village.
That’s a feel-good story for any youth group for sure, but while most teens are being trained during Sunday School and youth group to withstand the cultural pressures they’ll face in college, Mr. C’s students are headed somewhere entirely different.
Over the years, Mr. C has seen hearts softened, lives changed, and young people baptized and discipled. The stakes are high, as those same young men must now walk as Christians into adult prison life. “The boys go in at 14, 15, maybe 16 or 17 and they’re held over until their 18th birthdays, put in shackles, and taken to stand before the judge. One boy got two 50-year sentences.”
If that example of a young Christian headed toward a lifetime in adult prison is the climax of this story, here’s the denouement: if Jesus can show up in juvenile jail and touch hearts, and if Jesus shows up there because Mr. C is a Christ-follower who is committed to His calling, we should all feel challenged!
Who can you reach—Mr. P, Miss L, Mr. or Mrs. W? As an everyman and everywoman in everyday life, what is your calling?
Whatever it is, contact us, we’re here to help with time-tested resources that just might be music to someone’s spiritual ears.
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3)