YFC Reaches Youth in Juvenile Detention Centers to Try to Stop the Patterns of Incarceration
October 18, 2021
DENVER— Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net) is well known in Christian ministry circles as an organization dedicated to connecting with youth across America and creating meaningful relationships with them, all to the glory of Christ. One critical outreach is the YFC Juvenile Justice Ministry, which is devoted to reaching youth incarcerated in juvenile detention centers and sharing the hope of the Gospel behind locked doors. The need for this ministry is great—recent studies indicate that almost 60,000 youth under the age of 18 are incarcerated in America in over 1,000 different juvenile detention centers.
One YFC chapter that is determined to come alongside youth in these detention centers is the Denver Area YFC (DAYFC), whose Juvenile Justice Ministry seeks to engage young people as they are met in a variety of youth-serving institutions such as detention centers, correctional facilities, group homes, residential treatment centers and emergency shelters. Working together with churches, adult volunteers and likeminded partners, DAYFC coordinates church services, Bible studies, and special programs for incarcerated and previously incarcerated youth, as well as equips mentors and volunteers to bring the life-transforming message of Jesus Christ.
Director of DAYFC Juvenile Justice Ministries Ean Cowan commented, “Here in the Denver area, we have seen a dramatic increase in young men and women who have been sent to these juvenile detention centers, especially since the start of the pandemic. For some of these young people, they have been taken out of terrible situations, such as abusive homes or human trafficking, and sent to detention centers since they have nowhere else to go. We like to come alongside the youth in these centers and show them that we’re not there to take anything from them—we’re there to give them the hope of the Gospel.”
One area of concentration for DAYFC is incarcerated youth transitioning out of the detention center and back into the community. Cowan stated, “The ministry doesn’t end once the individual leaves the center. We aim to continue that relationship on the outside as well—to come alongside youth, no matter what it takes, no matter what stage of life they are in.”
One way DAYFC accomplishes this is through Freestyle Magazine, a quarterly magazine published by Tera Swigert, Founder and CEO of Freestyle Ministries who DAYFC partners with. Freestyle Magazine provides an opportunity for incarcerated youth to present their artwork, poetry, music, or other talents. The magazine, distributed within detention centers as well as to the outside world, both gives individuals the opportunity to showcase their skills and talents, but also reminds them that they have importance and value outside of their life in the detention center. “Freestyle Magazine reconnects incarcerated youth back to society,” said Cowan. “It encourages them to think of life beyond the prison, while breaking the stigma of juvenile detention centers for the community.”
To see the Denver Area Youth for Christ in action, register for the upcoming “See Their Story” virtual event on Wednesday, October 20 from 6:00pm-7:00pm MT. This event will give viewers the experience of what it is like to go inside a juvenile detention center and highlight the need for men and women who are willing to join DAYFC’s mission to share the love of Christ in these centers.
YFC haschapters impacting thousands of communities across the nation that seek out and serve youth from all walks of life. Many teens are silently struggling through a wide variety of challenging issues—and through the ministry God empowers through YFC, they see the living power of a loving God. YFC trains its leaders in a proven, relational ministry model called 3Story®, which encourages staff and volunteers to be good news while also sharing the stories of the Good News of Jesus. It involves building relationships through the ups and downs of everyday life in order to lead people to Christ.
YFC has been a pillar of missional ministry since 1944, when the Rev. Billy Graham served as YFC’s first full-time staff member. Since then, Youth For Christ has continued to be both a rural and urban ministry on mission, and it is always about the message of Jesus. YFC reaches young people everywhere, working together with the local church and other like-minded partners to raise up lifelong followers of Jesus who lead by their godliness in lifestyle, devotion to the Word of God and prayer, passion for sharing the love of Christ, and commitment to social involvement. Youth For Christ operates in over 100 nations and has 137 chapters that impact communities across America.
To interview a Youth For Christ representative, contact Media@HamiltonStrategies.com, Jeff Tolson, 610.584.1096, ext. 108, or Deborah Hamilton, ext. 102.