A Mountain Ministry

Posted on by Heidi Brunsting

By Gareth Unruh, Assistant Director of Juvenile Justice MInistry, Denver Area Youth for Christ

The call I received from Brian’s dad wasn’t full of the best news. “Brian was involved in a physical altercation using his long board to hit an older gentleman,” is what his dad was reporting to me. Having just gotten off parole, Brian was supposed to be leaving with me on a five-day backpacking trip in a couple days. I hoped he hadn't picked up more charges.

We had six other mentor and mentees planning on attending this trip but because of the nature of this work, Brian and I were the only ones still planning on going. The trip’s focus was two fold: (1) for Mentors to connect more deeply with their youth AND (2) to partner with the local church to provide new community for youth as they get out of the youth prisons; while reflecting on God’s creation and the love of Christ which can transform us.

Thankfully, we were still able to go.

The theme of our weekend was perseverance. Romans says suffering produces character, character produces perseverance, and perseverance leads to hope. We were gone for five days, experiencing four lakes (one of them I jumped in -- it was freezing!), summited one 12,900 foot peak, and hiked around 25 miles. We endured down pours with hail, hiked in rain and sun, swam with the fishes in mountain water lakes, and ate lake and brook fish all week.

We know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3b-5)

What takes months to accomplish in the city, only take days in the back-country. Relationships are strengthened and grown with each other and with Christ. Youth who struggle with incredibly difficult circumstances are more open and honest away from their day-to-day city life and are usually more ready to talk about what they need to live life to the full.

Brian and I grew a lot during this trip. We talked about the friends he chooses to hang out with, his parents, his future, and what it is going to look like now that he is off parole. Most importantly we talked about how faith fits into his life and his future. His dad is an atheist and Brian has always trusted only in what he can see, but he knows that my faith and love for Christ guide me every day.

Brian and I will continue to do life together, and as I live out my life in Christ, the strides we made on this trip will strengthen the foundation of faith that, one day, Brian will have as well.

Ever thought about the impact on a teen's life you could make as a mentor? Join us at our Juvenile Justice & Campus Life Ministries Volunteer Orientation to learn more about where you might fit into this awesome ministry!

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