By: Jake Rogers
“Why That!!” he asked me. I had just begun my JJM journey. I hadn’t joined the YFC team yet. I couldn’t find an answer. Since then, I’ve been trying to find a way to answer this question.
JJM is my passion because: it’s needed, these kids deserve a chance; they need to hear the lifesaving message of the Gospel. They have value and potential. Many of them need someone in their lives who cares about them, someone who knows them. They need a caring, loving, adult, who is willing to come alongside them, to give the support and encouragement they need.
Ultimately, the reason I do this, I think, is because of empathy. I see myself in every single one of these teens. These young men are at a pivotal point in life. The decisions they make now will impact their future more than at any other time throughout their life. These are formative years.
Some have stories that are similar to my own, others not even close. But, most of all, it is when they are willing to risk being honest and transparent, when I can see in their eyes and hear in their voices—the hurt, the loneliness, the pain and suffering, the anger and confusion, the hopelessness—yet somehow, still knowing there’s something more to life.
I remember how that feels, and I often share these feelings with them as we sit and talk. I remember those days of hopelessness in my own life, and I am deeply grateful for the mentors God placed in my life. They came alongside me and gave me a chance, even though I did not deserve it; they didn’t have to. I’m proud of where I am today, but I am only here by the grace of God. I was close to ending up where these kids are—or already too far gone. I was straddling a fence, falling into a short-lived-life filled with destruction, or where I am today. It’s through the prayer and support of others that pulled me off the fence to Jesus, and to serving these fence straddling, broken kids today through YFC.
The teens I get to work with inside the JDC (Juvenile Detention Center) do not want to be bad. They do not want to harm others with their actions—intentionally or unintentionally. They’ve made some “dumb” choices—crazy out of control decisions. For some, they really didn’t have much of a choice for anything different. They didn’t know any other way. It’s all they knew. How could they know another way to live if nobody is going to show them?