Juvenile Jail Ministry

Category: South Texas Projects

When we first talked to the head Administrator here he said that the volunteer groups hadn’t been able to make much progress with the teens there for almost a year. This Juvenile Center houses about 140 teens, both male and female, ages 10 to 17. The teens have committed crimes from petty theft, to assault, to attempted murder. On the attempt to salvage these teens and hopefully integrate them back into society, the Juvenile Center adopts an army “Boot Camp” training, with very strict discipline, and zero tolerance for misbehavior. We proposed a new approach. Our first class was scheduled for Sept. 2006.

We knew that our approach here had to be different so we presented our first class mixing in Power Point presentations with different Spiritual principles to bring the classes to their level. The response from the kids was overwhelming, with almost 70 kids praying to receive Jesus and wanting us back.

The institution has a merit system that is very hard to attain to, but if the teens do attain to it, they get extra “points” or privileges, like extra time with their parents and other perks. Our classes are not “required attendance” but, as the following boys shared their testimonies, the fruit of their time in our classes was obvious:

Here are a few testimonies of 3 teens at this center:

Teen number one: One of 5 children of a military man. His family moved a lot and mom left when he was little. Dad was never home and this teen did as he pleased. Eventually dad remarried and his step mom converted to Buddhism. This teen became more and more confused and was soon in trouble. He said: “I knew my dad believed in God but he was never there. After my step mom became a Buddhist monk, I got more and more confused. One day, near Christmas, I walked into the living room. My dad had a Christmas tree set up and had presents under the tree for us kids. He also had fallen asleep with an open Bible on his chest. I knew he believed. He simply was too busy to give us kids attention and I couldn’t relate to my step mom. Since coming here I have been the ‘almost perfect student’. I work very hard and hardly miss a point. I attend every meeting from your group and I keep all the Activated magazines and all the lit you give me. I am learning so much. Thanks for coming here.”

Teen number two: a quiet young man but also now an honor student and one of our most faithful students.

Teen number three: Always in trouble, to the point that they expected trouble from him. He was many times in detention and, at 17, about to be “kicked out”. (This meant going to an adult facility.) He somehow made it into one of our classes ….and along with making the right decisions….he’s now an honor student.

Three very different boys, three very different backgrounds; but one thing in common: The love of God helped make a change.