Why JJM In Alaska

Heather Dodge

Alaska Youth For Christ

Why do I work with teens incarcerated and beyond?


Good question! If you had asked me a few weeks ago, the answer would have been a discouraged, “I don’t know.” Recently, as I was preparing to go into our local facility to teach, I commented to my husband, “Why do I do this? Do I really make a difference? Is the sacrifice worth it?”


Thankfully, God provided an encouraging word. Just a couple of days later I bumped into a gentleman we used to attend church with. He pumped me up with encouraging words and reminded me that even if only one life is changed, it is all worth it.


You see, when I worked as the youth director in a small church, I received the regular pats on the back from parents and church members, notes of encouragement, and small gifts. I was surrounded by teens who loved me and thought that hanging out with me was the coolest thing since sliced bread. Now, not so much. It’s rare that I actually get to meet a kid’s parents. They’ll hang out with me if they have nothing better to do or need something. Sometimes, they’ll make plans to meet me and not even show up.


So again, why do I work with teens incarcerated and beyond?
I find my answer in John 5, the story where Jesus heals the man at the pool of Bethesda. The simple answer is, it is what Jesus would do. Three points jump out at me from this story:


1. Jesus went out of his way to be where the need was. He didn’t have to go all the way over to the east side of the temple where the pool was, but he did because that’s where the need was.
2. Jesus cared about the individual. He took the time to learn about the people there.
3. Jesus helped regardless. He didn’t ask the man what he had done to help himself. He simply asked if he wanted to get well. When the man made a lot of excuses, Jesus didn’t condemn him for his lack of faith or bad attitude. He healed him in spite of his faults and failures.


Why do I work with teens incarcerated and beyond?


Because it’s not about me, it’s about doing what Jesus would do and quite honestly, these kids grow on me and I love them!

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