From “beef” to forgiveness

From “beef” to forgiveness


Gareth wears many hats for Youth For Christ. One hat, a local Youth For Christ Chief Ministry Officer, acting as a bridge between local churches and the state facilities he works in, cultivating partnerships with churches and like-minded partners in different communities. Another hat, a member of YFC’s national Juvenile Justice Ministries (JJM) leadership team.

YFC’s Juvenile Justice Ministries seeks to engage young people as they are met in a variety of youth-serving institutions (detention centers, probation, correctional facilities, group homes, residential treatment centers, and emergency shelters). These valued relationships are sustained through ongoing involvement as they reenter their communities.

Gareth’s work with JJM continues the mission to see lifelong followers of Jesus reenter their communities as welcomed members, and he has witnessed many life-changing experiences in the lives of the teens they come alongside each day.

Gareth reflects on a time when he was sitting in a pod at a facility, “One of the staff talked about a couple of young men from rival gangs having ‘beef,’ or differences with each other. Talking with each [young men], I was able to reveal that they have a lot in common, except for the whole rival gang thing. This brought them to a deeper level of transparency and sharing that led to their wounds over not having a dad in their lives.”

In these moments “the walls start to come down” - from inside the JJM facility - talking and completely relating to each other.

“The challenge is always when they get back out into the community and then they’re on opposite lines and they’re on opposite streets,” Gareth adds.

There is another particular story that touches Gareth deeply. It is the story of DeShaun and Andre, two young men who were members of rival gangs in a metropolitan area. (To protect the identities of the young men, the location has been omitted.) 

While at a detention facility, DeShaun discovers that Andre had actually been the person who had shot at DeShaun’s fellow gang member, Anthony. Emotions of confusion and anger begin to rise in DeShaun.

Then a “but God” moment happened.

Andre came to DeShaun with an attitude of repentance and humility and asked for forgiveness. And DeShaun forgave Andre -- what a miracle!?!


From that moment of forgiveness, something grew something deeper for the young men: both have since been baptized – in the same church on the same day. God continues to show up incredibly in the lives of young people through caring adults connected to the movement of YFC (Juvenile Justice Ministries).

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