Touching the Hearts of Teenagers
Listed below is a true story about an interaction I had with teenagers in a Juvenile Detention Center. I had an opportunity to volunteer my time in a Juvenile Detention Center for 22 years. Working with troubled teenagers changed my career. Now, I am working with parents, teens, teachers and youth workers to provide strategies to connect with teenagers in the 21st century. Listed below is a story taken from my book Behind the Eyes of Juvenile Delinquents.
How quickly a heart can be touched
I had an opportunity to visit Jeffery, Duke, Robert, Parker, and Jamal in their unit at the Juvenile Detention Center to read some of the things written in the manuscript Behind the Eyes of Juvenile Delinquents. When I arrived in the unit, Jeffery, Duke and Jamal were playing cards. Robert and Parker were watching the movie “Spawn” on television. There were four other young men locked in their rooms for discipline.
Jeffery, Duke and Jamal slowly stopped playing cards and Robert stopped watching television and came to listen to the story as I read. Then Jeffery, Duke, Jamal and Robert became angry with Parker because he continued to watch television. They told me Parker worshipped Satan. I asked the other boys to “leave him alone because Parker was serving his master. I said, “You tell me you love God but yet you are not serving him. If you were serving him, more than likely you would not be in the Detention Center. I wish you were as faithful to God as Parker was to his master. You are in worse shape than Parker because you know the truth and refuse to live by the truth.”
After those words were spoken, everyone calmed down. I then continued to read from the manuscript Behind the Eyes of Juvenile Delinquents to Jeffery, Duke, Jamal and Robert. They were captivated by the words being read because they knew it was about them and me. They just took it all into their minds as they sat and listened intently. It’s difficult to describe what I felt. What struck me most was Parker who had his back turned to us? He got out of his chair, went behind our backs to lie on top of the ping pong table near us. A glance from the corner of my left eye showed that we now had Parker’s attention. Parker asked, “Where did you get that information from?” I told Parker I got the information from the youth in the Detention Center. Robert said, “He wrote it himself as if he was proud of me.”
Parker continued to lie on the table as I read from the manuscript. As we continued, to my surprise, Parker got a chair and sat right in front of us. He listened intently as I continued to read with a smile on my face. Before I knew it, time was up.
As I was leaving the unit, Parker told me that “he didn’t serve Satan but was trying to determine the right way to go.” I told him “I understood and hoped he would start going to church.” Then Parker proceeded to tell me he was going to attend church in the Detention Center. He also wanted to know when I was going to read the rest of the manuscript to them.
Well, I looked for Parker on the following Tuesday evening but he did not show up. I told the others to tell Parker I inquired about him. On Sunday Parker showed up in church. I was elated to see him. I never considered that the words I read would have an impact on Parker’s life, but one should never be surprised about the operation of the Holy Spirit. If no one else reads this book, I will always cherish the words spoken by Parker. I hope he will make the correct choices. I did not force my beliefs on him or try to debate with him. Parker said he was rebelling against his parents and that he grew up in the church. I hope he will turn his life over to Jesus Christ.
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