Many young people today have little respect for adults or authority. Single-parent families seem to have a harder time with children, since the parent may also have an outside job. Or, perhaps one parent allows more freedom to the children to make up for the other parent being absent.
Many of these youth need a Christian mentor of the same gender as the child. The organization Big Brothers Big Sisters has tried to do something about this problem, but I would like to see more churches reaching out into the community to mentor a troubled child even if he or she has a two-parent home.
Spending time with these young people, inviting them to go places they would not get to go otherwise, bringing the parent and youth to church, Bible study, prayer meeting, and other church activities can make a big difference in the life of the parent and child.
Some of these youth may have one parent in prison. In this case, the youth outreach would fit nicely in both the Family Ministry and the Pen Pal ministry with the mentor writing the inmate and being an encouragement to the parent incarcerated as well as the child and the other parent.
If these types of ministries are successful, there will be fewer young men and women going into the juvenile detention centers, jails, and prisons, and prayerfully, less need for so many jails and prisons. All this depends on how the youth’s troubles are handled and how much of a positive influence the church has on them.
Be aware that there may be some differences in beliefs and attitudes when bringing an at-risk youth into an existing church youth program. For example, if the young person being mentored is involved with drugs or is sexually active, you would need to be careful that this influence does not spread to any of the other youth in the group. We can be sure the church youth are just as aware of what these other adolescents might be involved in, but we want the church youth to be the good influence and not the other way around. Perhaps seeing what that life has gotten these young people into might just keep others from getting into the same thing. After awhile you will see growth in the spiritual walk of the youth that have not been raised in the church. And, hopefully, they will start attending church regularly.
If there is anything Rehoboth Jail & Ministry can do to help with setting up a youth ministry (especially to youth of a parent incarcerated in jail or prison), we would be more than happy to help. We realize most churches already have a youth program. Perhaps you are aware of a young person or family who may not be coming to church because they are embarrassed about having a parent who is incarcerated. If you know of such a family and would like to contact them but need some suggestions, we are here for you.
If you are not aware of any such families, is your congregation willing to approach such a family should the opportunity arise?Rehoboth Jail & Prison Ministry is looking for contact persons at each church with time to keep in contact with us about such needs. If you are interested, please let us know so we can add your name to our list. Then, if a need arises in your area we will contact you and you, in turn, can speak to those in authority about this need. Thank you in advance.