It was Saturday, the day before summer camp I was relaxing downstairs when my phone began to ring. “Who is calling me? What do they want and why can’t I just be left alone!” were the immediate questions and feelings running through my mind. I looked at the number and didn’t recognize it but answered it anyway. To my surprise it was the staff at the Grand Forks County Regional Youth Assessment Center (former Juvenile Detention Center) calling.
The staff was calling on behalf of a youth. Paul* desperately needed to talk to me. This young man and I had many conversations over the past week. I was there when he asked questions about finding hope. I was there when the Holy Spirit changed his life and he professed Jesus as his personal savior and lord. “Hello,” I said. He returned a weak “hello.” His voice sounded sad and he expressed his feelings of loneliness.
The last week was overwhelming. Decisions and actions were being made and he had little control due to his circumstances. He was beginning to lose hope and the darkness of his surroundings began to creep into his head. He knew he should pray to God, but yet he was new to this concept. What should I say, was it enough, why aren’t these dark thoughts going away? He needed to reach out—turn to a trusted friend who could listen and help him handle this anxiety.
As I listened, he began to unpack his feelings as much as a 15 year old would dare. He needed encouragement to walk through the valley. He needed reassurance that God was still there despite not feeling His presence. He needed a sense of peace. We held a conversation for over a half-hour. At the end of the call, we prayed together. His voice now expressed a sense of comfort and ease.
Despite my selfish desire to focus inward, God used me as an unexpected lifeline for Paul. He reminded me that relationships matter. More importantly, each of us matter to Him eternally.
Thanks be to God who continues to change the lives of teens in Grand Forks because of you and your faithfulness to our ministry.