Let the WORD Do Its Work

Posted on by Heidi Brunsting

By Tim Butler, Director of City Engagement and Juvenile Justice Chaplain and Site Director

When “Curtis” and I started talking, I gave him my YFC business card since it was the first time we had met.  And I told him when he gets out, he can call me and that “I’m always good for a hamburger or something else” if he wants to meet up.  Despite the years I’ve served as a Chaplain, I still get caught off guard by what teenagers tell me, and this was one of those times…

            “Why are you giving this to me?  I’m never getting out.  I’m looking at a 48-year sentence.” 


His words left me stunned and struggling for a response.  Fortunately, a jail staff member escorted a couple residents through the area where Curtis and I were talking, and it gave me time to collect my thoughts.

    “Did you say four to eight years, or forty-eight years?” 


                       “Forty-eight years.  But my lawyers are trying to get my case put back to juvenile court since I am just 16, and if I’m found guilty, I’ll only serve about 6.”


During the next 45 minutes, Curtis and I talked about his upbringing and he told me he had spent the last 4 years in and out of jail.  (In fact, he had spent the last 2 at a facility for violent offenders where one of our YFC staffs serves as Chaplain.)  When I asked Curtis if he had attended church at the other facility, he replied:

            “No, I’ve never given religion or God much thought till now.  And besides, I’ve committed the unpardonable sin.”


Given the nature of Curtis’ alleged crime – it will be months before his guilt or innocence is determined – I can’t tell you what he thinks the “unpardonable sin” is.  But I can tell you that for possibly the first time in his life, Curtis understands God’s offer of forgiveness and a new life, regardless of what happens with his case.


Five hundred years ago, Martin Luther said: “…I will constrain no one by force; faith must come freely without compulsion.  I did nothing; I let the WORD do its work.”  How grateful I am to know that the WORD will do its work in the lives of young people like Curtis, and that no person is beyond God’s redemptive love, even when I sometimes feel like the enemy is winning.


We praise God for the work He’s doing through the sharing of His Word.  Thank you for your love and care for us, and for so many kids like Curtis who have yet to surrender their lives to Christ.  Thank you for being a part of the ongoing conversation with youth in our city and helping us share God’s story.  It's our honor to be the storytellers on your behalf who meet kids right where they are and give life to their story.


Providing young people in our community with the opportunity to make an informed decision to be a follower of Jesus Christ and become part of a local church.

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