Over the Long Haul

Posted on by Heidi Brunsting

By Gareth Unruh, Assistant Director, Juvenile Justice Ministry, Denver Area YFC

I recently received a call from the County Chaplain from an adult facility.  He had gotten message from an inmate asking me to visit him.

I first met Cody when he was 12 years old; he will be 23 next month. I visited him looking through bars on a cold steel seat.  He is a grown man now. As we caught up, I remembered the last time I saw him on the outs (prisoner lingo for “in the community”): he was in trouble and needed advice.  He would usually call when he was in trouble, just like this time.

Cody has a three-year-old son whom he hasn’t seen for a year. He “earns” a living by selling dope and has been living under bridges and couch surfing since last March. This is the first time I’ve talked to him sober in three years.

He talked about when he was younger, our talks about Christ and church, and when he and his little sister would go with me to church. Back then it was his mom who would stop us from seeing each other by moving, this time she had accused him of something he said he didn’t do.

He has court at the end of the month and he said he didn’t know anyone else to call. “You’ve been the only constant in my life.” I reminded him of Jesus being his constant and the reason that I was in his life.  As we prayed, huge tears fell from his eyes and he lingered like he didn’t want me to go.

Cody has been a life-long relationship and while he has had incredible encounters with God, we are still waiting for him to surrender completely to Him.

Our mentoring program has caring adults who invest in the long haul with youth. Most of our mentors will work closely with youth for three – four years and then have encounters like I had with Cody over the rest of their lives. Some of our youth do get out from underneath their family’s history and become pro-social adults, some of our youth never get locked up because we are able to work with them prior to prison, and some of our youth just need a consistent loving adult for them to become self-sustaining young adults. 

Would you consider the risk of mentoring? Of making an investment that will last a life-time, by simply being present in their lives. My job is to free the local church to use their gifts and talents with the youth who so desperately need hope and love of our Savior. Find out more about becoming a mentor with Denver YFC!

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