Hope and a Future for Incarcerated Teens

Monday, December 21, 2009 Bryan Hudson 0 Comments

Jeremiah 29:11(NIV) For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.

Yesterday a group of believers from New Covenant Church went to the Juvenile Detention Center in Indy to minister to a group of young men. The "Juvenile Center," as we call it, is essentially a jail for teenagers. We've had a team ministering at that institution for more than 18 years, but I had not been to the institution for a number of years.

We had a great time singing Christmas songs, giving gifts, sharing poetry, testimonies, and offering a Gospel message by one of our ministers. When I rose to invite young men to know Christ, I shared the Scripture from Jeremiah 29:11. I asked two questions of the young man: The first question was "What is a plan?" The young men easily answered that question.

I then asked the question, "What is hope?" Interestingly, no one had a ready answer to that question. I realized that since many of these teens had become trapped in a lifestyle of crime early in life, they had not developed a positive sense of hope. While incarceration is often necessary, it is not conducive to a hope-filled heart and mind.

I defined hope as a positive expectation. Hope is a picture of a preferred future.  While Jeremiah 29:11 did not directly speak to young men in jail, the Lord wanted them to know the meaning of His message to Israel in captivity. God also has a plan for them and that plan did not include a life of crime and living inside of the juvenile justice system, only to "graduate" to the adult justice system.

God knows the plan he has for people, and that plan includes "a future and a hope." It was very interesting to see the young men quickly take hold of a message of hope, even inside of a place that affords very little hope.

The Gospel is the power God unto salvation. We prayed with about six young men to receive Christ. We encouraged all of them to know that through God they could change "systems."

Having a future and a hope involves a change in systems, a change of surroundings, and a change in mindset. What is true for incarcerated young men is true for everyone. God can give us a hope that cannot be found in any other environment. There is a preferred future painted as a beautiful picture by Almighty God.

Jesus Christ gave His life to change our future, change our systems, and create a hope in us that will not disappoint.