“I Found God at the Detention Center”

Posted on by COYFC

by Christy Talbert, YFC Chaplain

Mark is a 22-year-old black man who works at the Detention Center. When he found out I was a chaplain he sought me out. This clean-cut, well-spoken young man introduced himself, shook my hand, and told me five years ago, at age 17, he had been incarcerated at the Detention Center for one month.  He then offered me a huge smile and said, "I found God here at the Detention Center."  

Over the next three days I learned more of his story.  He had been at the JDC on an aggravated burglary charge.  Being incarcerated had been terrifying for him, and he began attending our chapel services and speaking with our chaplain.  One night, in his room, he told God he needed Christ in his life and begged God for help.  After his prayer, he experienced God's peace and protection for the rest of his stay there.

Mark was released and has never looked back. He is doing his best to follow Christ, and he graduated with an associate degree.  He's now at a local university studying criminal justice.  He is a student, works part time for the college, and is now starting a full-time position as a JDO at the Detention Center.  This gentle, intelligent, kind young man has a great future in store and wants to make a difference in the lives of teens.  He says he is a completely different person than he was five years ago - and of course, that's true, because anyone who is in Christ is a new creature!

Mark's story is a huge encouragement to me.  Our team is continually striving to provide better follow-up for teens once they leave the Detention Center, and we've come a long way in this regard due to our BridgeBuilder program.  It's not an easy task though, as many of these kids lead transient lives and have ever-changing addresses and phone numbers.  As a result, some of our kids still slip through the cracks after being released.  They are not lost to God though!  This side of heaven, we'll never know how many of our teens, like Mark, found Christ at the Detention Center and are living changed lives serving Christ and helping people.

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