Skip to the main content.
Donate Need help?
Donate Need help?

2 min read

What the Kids in Juvenile Detention Want to Know

Christa Inouye serves in UGM's outreach to the youth in Spokane County Juvenile Detention.

Christa serves in the Juvenile Detention ministry for UGM Youth Outreach. Here, she reflects on her experiences with these young people.

By Christa Inouye

 

“God wove me together.”

She clasped her hands to her mouth in surprise, as if she had no idea where that thought came from.

I smiled. “That’s true! Did you know that the Bible says that?”

She shook her head.

“Let’s read it together. Psalm 139.”

She had never heard that Psalm before, yet God had given her this thought. Even here, the Holy Spirit is at work.

The boys and girls at Juvenile Detention humble me every week. They know what they have done; they are honest about what they have been through.

What they want to know is: Is there hope?

During my volunteer time at Juvenile Detention, I’ve been deeply convicted about how I present the gospel. There is a disconnect in speaking about what the historical Jesus did 2,000 years ago—for them, that is as far away as imagining a stable home life.

Before teaching, I’ve had to take a seat and listen. I’ve cried over their stories of deep hurt and betrayal. Their world is marked by abuse, addiction and cyclical poverty. They see the city of Spokane as a network of trap houses, the church as a fantasy, and the bus plaza as their living room.

Where does the good news of Jesus come into the picture?

My team and I come in biweekly to encourage and mentor. Using the Bible to start conversations, we walk through a passage of Scripture, and share how that specific Bible verse has shaped our personal lives.

What we try to convey is that God has something to say about what is happening in our lives right now, and his Word has the power to transform us from the inside out. We focus on relationship, not religion.

Lexi, Adam, Jerry and Don are a few of the people who join Christa in ministry to the kids in Spokane County Juvenile Detention.

Lexi, Adam, Jerry and Don are a few of the people who join Christa in ministry to the kids in Spokane County Juvenile Detention.

 

They don’t need another person to tell them what they are doing wrong. What they desperately need is for someone to tell them that they have a perfect Father who loves and accepts, who does not betray. They need to be told that this Father created them for purpose and value.

I’ve been challenged every time. The burdens they carry often weigh on us in our prayers.

But I’ve been encouraged and taught to not dwell on the darkness. For the same Psalm that speaks to our identity also says this about God’s:

“Even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is bright as the day, for darkness is as light with you.”

Praise God, who does not shy away from the dark, but illuminates each place with His glory.

 

If you'd like to serve in Juvenile Detention or with any of our programs to reach at-risk youth, start here!

New Beginnings: Treasures from the heart

4 min read

New Beginnings: Treasures from the heart

Jarrod’s life in Spokane has been a series of ups and downs. He battled with addictions for more than 10 years. Yet on March 11, 2024, he will...

Read More
Redeemed and Renewed: A testimony of God's grace

7 min read

Redeemed and Renewed: A testimony of God's grace

This winter, UGM resident Alethea shared her testimony at a staff meeting. With tremendous vulnerability and newfound confidence, she recounted how...

Read More
From Recovery to Retail: Hope comes from UGM Thrift Stores

4 min read

From Recovery to Retail: Hope comes from UGM Thrift Stores

Three women from the UGM Recovery program achieved well-deserved positions at the Coeur d’Alene Thrift Store. Megan, Debra, and Starla serve as...

Read More
Checking in With Youth Outreach

6 min read

Checking in With Youth Outreach

In a perfect world, children and teens would grow up with the knowledge that they are valuable and loved. They wouldn’t have to ask for it, they...

Read More
Empowering Youth: Adam

3 min read

Empowering Youth: Adam

As an intern on the UGM Student Impact Team, Adam has taught, mentored, and led youth at UGM shelters, local high schools, and Juvenile Detention. ...

Read More
3 Ways Student Impact Gives Kids a Family

6 min read

3 Ways Student Impact Gives Kids a Family

“This is literally our home. And three times a week, we invite 12 to 20 high-schoolers in.” That’s a succinct way to describe Impact Nights at the...

Read More