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When the juvenile detention center staff opened the door to the unit, Amy tried to squeeze behind him. She wasn’t trying to escape – she just wanted to talk with me in a place away from the other residents. We ended up close to a storage room, and I had to lean in to hear her quiet voice.
“Remember me? You and Pastor Victor prayed with me last month.” I did a quick scan of the journal I always have with me, and found her name, some notes, and her requests from earlier… “going home on Monday; 15 years old; pray I can stay sober and not be addicted anymore to Fentanyl.”
“I did okay for a while, but then I started using again, got in a fight with my mom and made things worse for myself. Guess I’ll be here at juvenile hall until my mom lets me come home again.”
Amy used her left hand to wipe her eyes, and I noticed the tattoo on her arm. “What’s the tattoo say?”
“Death leaves a heartache no one can heal. Love leaves a memory no one can steal. I came up with it after my ex tried to hang himself in front of me. He was mad that I stopped him, and he dumped me a few months ago.”
“Amy, I need to tell you that regardless of how your ex made you feel that terrible day, and no matter what you believe about yourself today, God has not abandoned you or given up on you.” Our conversation ended just a couple minutes later when the staff told the residents to line up for supper.
As Amy stood up, she asked, “Can you get me a Bible? And can you find some verses I should read?”
“Of course! I’ll find a Bible and leave it on the staff’s desk for you, and I’ll mark a couple verses.”
“No, find four!”
With that, Amy went with her unit to dinner, and I went to find a Bible we offer to the residents. Amy expects to be at the facility a few more weeks, and I look forward to more conversations to talk about the four verses I bookmarked for her.
Thank you for your priceless gifts of prayer and support as, together, we love young people like Amy and so many more who are locked away from society, but not locked away from God’s redeeming love!
-Tim Butler, Juvenile Justice Ministry, Youth for Christ Denver