What the Kids in Juvenile Detention Want to Know

Posted by Union Gospel Mission May 10, 2018 1:53:31 PM

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!

Make an impact on the future. Serve in Youth Outreach >

Topics: Youth Outreach, gospel, juvenile


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