Youth For Christ Reaches Inside: Celebrating Workers in the Juvenile Justice System
HOUSTON, Texas — Juvenile justice facilities detain tens of thousands of minors in America on any given day, and COVID-19 restrictions are preventing community volunteers from venturing inside — but Youth For Christ (YFC, www.yfc.net) is still finding ways to partner with local government and businesses to encourage the staff and the incarcerated kids.
Youth For Christ Houston Executive Director Jonathan Frost recognized early on that the COVID-19 restrictions might be leaving some staff at probation facilities feeling isolated without the usual support from community-based organizations, such as YFC’s Juvenile Justice Ministry. Frost — who worked for 14 years as the Houston Texans mascot TORO before joining YFC — says the past few months have drawn community members together to encourage those who daily serve youths in hard circumstances.
“This has been a story about local government, local businesses and local nonprofits coming together to support those who are taking care of local kids,” Frost said. “We want to provide food to lift their spirits, encourage them and let them know that we are thinking of them even though we can’t be in the facility alongside them.”
Understanding the power of community partnerships, YFC Houston worked with local Chick-fil-A restaurants to take lunch to the staff and kids at the Galveston County Juvenile facility in April and is working to do the same to the 330 staff members at the Harris County Juvenile Justice Center located at 1200 Congress, Houston, TX 77002 on two select days during the month of August in partnership with Honore’s Cajun Cafe.
“Doing this supports and recognizes the hard work of the staff of the Juvenile Justice Center at all times, but especially during the trying time the COVID-19 pandemic has created,” Frost said.
“These essential employees impact the lives of the majority of youth who are involved with Harris County’s juvenile justice system,” he continued. “The COVID-19 time period has meant that none of the volunteer resources the staff have as support in the facilities have been allowed inside since March 13. So staff and kids have been much more isolated than normal.”
Youth For Christ’s partnership with local businesses and government leaders is a common thread among YFC chapters on mission to teach young people to be lifelong followers of Jesus. YFC National Juvenile Justice Director Eric Kelly says these partnerships are critical because of the scope of the need.
“This ministry can’t happen without volunteers,” Kelly said in the YFC video “Stories from the Inside.” “Eighty thousand teenagers will hear that door slam and won’t be connected to a positive adult who will lift them up, who will care, who will pray, who will love them right where they are at.”
Nationally, Youth For Christ is telling inspiring stories like these through #YFCBeTheStory, an initiative to help spread the word across the nation about how YFC chapters are making a difference in their communities.
Youth For Christ 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 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 more than 160 chapters impacting communities across America.