The deeper meaning

January 26, 2024


In high school, God met me through a key mentor in my life named Greg from First Presbyterian Church. What I remember most about those days was the time he spent time with me and a few of our most critical conversations. There’s a ton I don’t remember, but by God’s grace, the sum of it all was transformational. It led me to repentance and to experience God’s goodness. Here I am some twenty years later and I can see clearly now that the seeds that were sown in those days led me to Youth For Christ.

YFC’s last week of ministry for 2023 was spent in a flurry with staff and kids doing parties, giving gifts, doing Bible studies and having conversations big and small. It would be easy to only see the frosting of cookies, the weird games played to give a laugh, or the expense of the gifts given by Cross City Church folks to every kid who lives in a Group Home. But that would miss the deeper magic of the moment. The sum of it all is Christ-sharing relationships.

Sherri and Toni visited their girls in Juvenile Hall one last time for 2023. A sweet, giggly, 14 year old pregnant teen was there alongside another teen who is in and out of being trafficked. They did a craft while Sherri asked if she could read the Christmas story. The virgin Mary caught the interest of the 14 year old to say the least.

Sherri shared about the angelic host and the lowly shepherds of Luke chapter 2 which piqued the girl’s curiosity. They wanted to plop open the Bible, stick their finger on the page and have the gals explain it. Sherri was relieved to remember that her Bible only had the Psalms and the New Testament to choose from!

First a passage from Hebrews, then one from 1 Peter gave Sherri the chance to share how we are changed when we accept Christ. This was the critical conversation and the transformational moment. “I think I wanna do that!” said the young teen mom. “You think you’re ready?” Sherri replied. “Yeah, I am.” Sherri took her by the hand and led her in prayer to receive Jesus.

The best part of Christmas at YFC depends on who you ask, and when you ask. Ask a kid right now and it may be the frosted cookie or having a first Christmas present with something they actually asked for. Those are good things for sure. Yet with eyes of faith we know the best moments are a kid hearing that God came to earth for them, in humility, under threat of violence and danger, born to die in their place. Or a kid having a wholly positive interaction with the church through a present, hinting to God’s gift of grace. Or best yet, when the seed of the gospel takes root and a heart grows warm to the wooing of Christ. It is the sum total of it all that God uses to convict and call, shape and mold.

20 years from now where will that 14-year-old teen mom be now that she knows Jesus? The fun is in the finding out.

Two weeks later:

It’s now 2024 and Sherri went back to the Hall to visit the pregnant teen (we’re withholding her name, you’ll see why below). She text me this right after:

“I was able to talk to her at juvenile hall tonight. She says she’s been praying at night and her nightmares have gone away and she feels different. I shared 2 Corinthians 5:17 with her. Her sister has a reputation in a local gang so girls all over town want to start trouble and fight her. So I prayed with her tonight that when she gets out others will only see the new creation she is and that God would protect her from the ones that want to hurt her.”

She’s praying. She’s seen God remove the nightmares. She’s asking for God’s protection for when she is released. The seeds are taking root!

For Every Kid,