Archive for February, 2010

Why We Go

Before a prospective volunteer sits in to observe one of the institutional Bible studies for the first time, I usually give them fair warning. Not the kind of warning that one might think – that these kids will mock them, disrespect them or that they could hurt them physically. Rather, I warn them that once they spend this hour with them, they will be hooked. I am proved right in almost every case.

It is not easy to explain why these kids wrap around our hearts. I do know that once you meet them, listen to their stories, read their revealing prayer requests, see the sadness in their eyes and the masks they wear, or when you hear their questions and realize the misconceptions they have about God and what He thinks about them, you just can’t help but love them and want desperately for them to know the unlimited and unconditional love and grace of God that has been poured out in your own life and can be poured out in their lives as well. After all, weren’t we all once lost and troubled “delinquents” ourselves? Don’t we all still need his love and grace each and every day and every moment of our lives?

-Laura Williams, Straight Ahead New Hampshire State Coordinator

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February 22, 2010 at 9:40 pm Leave a comment

Touched By God

Straight Ahead staff and affiliates oversee 400 weekly Bible studies in juvenile lock-up facilities in 17 states, many of which occur here in Massachusetts. Karen leads a Bible study in a girls’ detention center twice a month. I received this email detailing her time of ministry with the girls:

We had an awesome time at the girls’ lock up today! When I arrived they informed me they were short on staff and I’d have to wait awhile. When a staff member finally came to the lobby to let me in she asked, “Are you sure you still want to do it? There isn’t a lot of time for a lesson.” She led me through the maze of locks and doors and this time the supervisor asked, “Are you sure you want to do this?” We only had about 22 minutes left. Insisting I would take whatever time was available, I was seated in the meeting room and three precious girls walked in. I noticed hollow, “institutional” expressions, like sad, displaced people with just a glimmer of hope in their eyes.

I’d never met these girls before, but God unleashed a wonderful and very condensed flow of love and power for their lives. It was like an injection of spiritual insulin! They all took Bibles and followed along as we culled from Hebrews and John and left with a hunger to dig in and feast on God’s Word!

God is great!!! As I was leaving, the supervisor and the other 23 girls noticed we were all coming out with big smiles. “It doesn’t take long to be touched by God,” I said. Pray for these girls to thirst for the water of life and to know the love of God that surpasses everything else on the planet.

Three came in with long faces. Three left with new Bibles, and rejuvenated spirits, ready to dig in and feast on God’s Word! Wow, do I feel blessed!

February 16, 2010 at 6:36 pm Leave a comment

Stone By Stone

A poem from a young man in lock-up, and an encouragement to all youth workers to continue pressing in…

I have a wall you cannot see because it’s deep inside of me
It blocks my heart on every side and helps emotions there to hide
You can’t reach in, I can’t reach out; you wonder what it’s all about
The wall I built that you can’t see results from insecurity
Each time my tender heart was hurt the scars within grew worse and worse
So stone by stone I built a wall that’s now so thick it will not fall
Please understand that it’s not you; continue trying to break through

I want so much to show myself; love from you will really help
So bit by bit, chip at my wall, till stone by stone it starts to fall
I know the process will be slow; it’s never easy to let go
Of hurts and failures long ingrained upon one’s heart from years of pain
I’m so afraid to let you in; I know I might get hurt again
I try so hard to break the wall but I seem to get nowhere at all
For stone upon stone I’ve stacked, and left between them not a crack

The only way to make it fall is imperfections in the wall
I did the best I could to build a perfect wall, but there are still a few small flaws
Which are the key, to breaking through the wall to me
Please use each flaw to cause a crack, to knock a stone off of the stack
For just as stone by stone was laid, with every hurt and every pain
So stone by stone the wall will break, just as love replaces each ache
Please be the one who cares enough to find the flaws no matter what

February 10, 2010 at 3:31 pm Leave a comment


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