Will you be back?

by Barrell Richardson

YFC Houston, Juvenile Justice Ministry Director

Will you be back?

The first time I ever stepped foot in a juvenile detention facility was with Brother Danny. He was a fellow teacher who later became my mentor. He invited me to go with him and I agreed to go mostly out of curiosity. In my mind this was a one time thing as I felt I was already fulfilling my “good Christian” duty by teaching a youth Sunday school class. I had no idea how this “one-time thing” would change the direction of my entire life!

As we entered the unit filled with about 60 youth, Brother Danny casually turned to me and asked me to speak to the kids. Huh, what…speak!? That was not what I’d signed up for. What was I even going to speak about? I was 21 years old and had only gotten serious about this “God thing” a year earlier. At least in Sunday school we had books to help us! Brother Danny saw me nervously searching my brain for something to say and told me to relax and speak from my heart. That’s exactly what I did. I shared how God was changing me and how those changes were making dramatic improvements in my life - how I was no longer just some knucklehead kid off the block, but was becoming a man God could be proud of.

Then I met Brandon. Imagine a room full of tall teenage boys and there, in the middle of them, stands a 10 or 11-year-old kid. When I saw him I thought to myself, “What is a kid this young doing here?” Before we left Brandon introduced himself to me. He didn’t ask for prayer like the others – he asked if I’d be back. He told me he “felt” what I had shared and wanted me to help him get his life back on track. Wanted me to help him? How could I even consider not helping a kid who’d obviously been thorough so much at such a young age and now wanted help getting his life on track?

Wow, God chose me as one of His vessels to help Brandon and I’ve had the privilege of working with kids like Brandon ever since. There is no greater feeling than doing what God has called you to do and seeing lives changed. It doesn’t get any better than that! That, my friends, is why we work with incarcerated teens.

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