YFC Reaches Youth in Juvenile Detention Centers to Try to Stop the Patterns of Incarceration
October 11, 2021
DENVER— 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. While the number of youth arrests has receded in the past 20 years, the amount of Americans under the age of 18 who are placed in juvenile detention centers is staggering. Despite research stating that putting youth in confinement actually results in a 33% higher likelihood that the individual is more likely to repeat their offense, governmental systems continue to funnel troubled teens to detention centers.
Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net) is well aware of the gap in the system regarding juvenile justice and is determined to build relationships with justice-involved youth. Juvenile Justice Ministry Director CJ Fisher and the rest of the YFC Juvenile Justice Ministry team are striving to reach youth that are stuck in the system and struggling with hope. “I think when we think about the justice system, we always think of the adult system,” Fisher commented. “We often miss out on the fact that we have kids that are going through the system because of their parents or communities. It’s a cycle—the parents are in the system, then the children, who then grow up to have kids that most likely will be in the system.
“It’s really evident that there’s a huge need for YFC’s Juvenile Justice Ministry when you walk into a facility and you see a ten-year old behind glass.”
Coming alongside youth in a variety of juvenile justice settings—including detention centers, correctional facilities, group homes, residential treatment centers or emergency shelters—YFC’s Juvenile Justice Ministry attempts to connect with these individuals and build meaningful relationships, all while pointing them to Christ. Fisher commented, “So many kids are wary of us when we first come in, but we genuinely want to connect with them, and eventually they can tell that we are different. We tell them, ‘We’ll provide you with services, but more so than that, we want to give you hope. And that hope is found in Jesus Christ.’ That’s what makes this ministry so special—we get to show them Jesus behind locked doors.”
Jacob Bland, president and CEO of YFC, stated, “There is a lack of awareness and misconceptions around the Juvenile Justice System. Young people in the Juvenile Justice System often feel overlooked, and it’s our passion to make them feel seen, heard, and valued. Juvenile Justice Ministry leaders aim to be a steady voice and presence in their lives, intentionally postured as humble and authentic mentors.
“Many of the teenagers we meet face adverse situations such as relational trauma, racial trauma, community violence, and lack of access to basic needs. It is during these moments of crisis that our leaders invest in reciprocal trusted friendships with our young people, who are facing pivotal life challenges. We ultimately build relationships with young people to introduce them to Christ and uncover God’s story of Hope in their lives.”
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.