Danny Beard has been running UGM’s volunteer ministry at Juvenile Detention since 1985. Every once in a while, he runs into someone around town who recognizes him from there – a former detainee who’s doing well and has his/her life back on track.
For example, a young man stopped Danny at church. “Are you Danny Beard? I was in juvenile detention in the 80’s. I remember you being there.” He then introduced Danny to his wife and children. Another time, a Subway employee recognized him: “I met you in juvenile detention. I’m doing good, going to church, got a job, staying out of trouble.”
But honestly, Danny said, those encounters are rare. What Danny respects about the group of men and women who serve with him at Juvenile Detention is that they are incredibly faithful in spite of the fact that success stories are few and far between. “I tell our volunteers, we can’t be looking for epic results. We’ve just got to be faithful. That’s all God’s really called us to do – be faithful and allow God’s Word to work in their hearts.”
Faithful is the perfect descriptor for these volunteers: Benny King, Jerry McGlade, Don Smith, Bob McCaslin, Jill Wyrick-Doornink, Jim Jensen, Roy & Sharyle Croswhite and Sherri Hopkins. Most have been serving for 20 years plus.
The group meets at Juvenile Detention every Wednesday night from 6:15 to 8:00 p.m. They sing, study the Bible and pray. Volunteers also hold a chapel service on Sunday mornings. Many of these teens have never heard the gospel. They come from broken homes with “little to no parental supervision – no guidance in their lives – they’re pretty much raising themselves.”
So when these kids ask for prayer, it’s a big deal. “Prayer has not been part of their lives – at all.” But God is at work. Here are a few of their requests: