When I was 18, I lived in Prince George, taking a bible school program called Tour of Duty. It was a 9 month course that involved biblical studies, basic service in the local church & community involvement. One of those things was Teen Talk at the Youth Correctional Center. Our team would go every Friday Night & play games, sing songs, talk about whatever & just be their friends. Sometimes we would even go into the maximum security areas & hang out with the kids that weren't allowed to go to Teen Talk. This one night (the last time I was there) I met this boy...he was 17. We played scrabble, laughed a lot & started talking. I asked pretty shallow questions, as to not stir up anything that would make him feel awkward. I wanted to let him be free to talk about everything or nothing if he wanted. I honestly felt Jesus with me that night.
We ended up talking about everything...all that he had dreamt for his life before his crime, how he felt about what he had done, the guilt and baggage that he carried now. We cried & cried together. I have never had a moment like that in my life. Courage came over me before my comfort zone could kick in.
I shared about Jesus.
I shared about how He loved him in spite of all that he had done or ever would do.
He could have peace if he would surrender his life to Jesus.
As I shared, he listened with tears streaming down his face. I told him that if he would give his life to Jesus, he would never have to carry his burden alone. He said 'But if He only knew what I have done, he would never forgive me.'
I told him that He does know & He saw you when He died. He took that sin with him and died so you would not have to pay in eternity. I told him about heaven.
It was the most incredible moment of my life.
Then the guards came in.
My group had to leave.
As I was leaving, he asked me if we could talk more about Jesus, when I came back and I said 'Of course!'
As we left, the guards asked us
our ages. We told him.
He informed me that I had to be 19 to go in that area & from now on, I would not be allowed there.
I never saw my friend again.
That night, as I left that center, I wept for 2 reasons. One, for the event that had just taken place, and Two, that I would never see him again. 'Why would God give me this boy to share with and then take the opportunity away?' I was devastated.
When I arrived to my house later that night, there was a brown manila envelope addressed to me laying on my pillow. I recognized the writing immediately. It was from Christy. At that same time, she was in Australia with Y.W.A.M.
As I pulled the contents out of the envelope, I could barely contain myself. I fell on the ground and cried...for a long time.
Tonight, Mark found that gift again. Every once and a while, I find it, always when its the exact moment I need it, and I am thankful, once again for friends who listen to Jesus. Christy, probably not even knowing the full weight of her gift, allowed Jesus to speak through her to write what she wrote and send it when she sent it! It arrived to my house in Prince George at the exact moment I needed it. Thats a miracle. Our God is in the business of miracles.
Thats not to say that I didn't think of my friend in the center again, because I did..often. But I know now that in my small faith I planted a seed, and Jesus would be faithful to bring the increase!