On Monday, January 13, 2020, heaven rejoiced as we gained another brother in Christ! Once a week, In His Steps Director, Reverend Bacon, travels to three area detention centers to minister to juvenile offenders who are in the pre-trial units. These young men wait in pre-trial units until they are able to go to juvenile court and receive their sentencing for their offenses. “From time to time, we do have kids who remain in these pre-trial units for up to 90 days. These opportunities allow us to build relationships with them,” Reverend Bacon says.
At a weekly Bible study in an area youth detention center last week, Reverend Bacon encountered a young man that he had met before at a previous Bible study. “I took some time to relate to him the first time, just to learn a little bit about him. It helped him feel more at ease with me the second time we met because he knew I was there to encourage him, not to demean him.” While this young man was quiet throughout the first Bible study, during the second one, Reverend Bacon made it a point to involve him in the lesson he was teaching. As they were going through the Four Spiritual Laws, Reverend Bacon had the young man read parts of the passage, a technique that helps in several aspects in the detention center ministry. First, it helps the young men remember what they’ve read more clearly. We believe that the Bible never returns void, and because of that, we know that in each of these young men’s lives these passages of scripture will return to their minds when they need it most. On this day, it also helped Reverend Bacon see that the young man was well-educated and could read proficiently. He says, “it allowed me an opportunity to encourage him that he was a very good reader. We try to encourage these kids in any way we can, including but never limited to evangelism. We want them to go back to school and go to college or a trade program. So I told him, “You’re a very intelligent young man, I can tell that. You shouldn’t be here, you should be back in school, getting ready for college.” This helped him know I was on his side.”
Reverend Bacon and the young man read through the Four Spiritual Laws, which explain first that all of us are loved by God, but that we all have sinned. Reverend Bacon mentions that he was careful to point out the “we” in those statements, “because often people go into the detention centers and only apply their lessons to the boys, as if those of us giving the Bible studies are without sin, so I always emphasize that I’m just as guilty of sin as they are.” The young man seemed to truly resonate with the first two points of the Four Spiritual Laws, and he began to let his guard down a little bit more. The third law emphasizes that Christ is the only provision for man’s sin. Not religion, not works. When they reached the end of the Four Spiritual Laws, Reverend Bacon stressed that each one of us must personally receive Jesus.
“I said to him, “Can you remember a time where you wanted to say to God, “I’m ready to give my life to you, and I want to receive Jesus Christ as my savior”? I gave him some time to think about this, and I could tell he was really thinking. We moved on to the prayer in the Four Spiritual Laws book that’s used to lead people to the Lord. I read this prayer to him and I could tell he was looking at it very intently as I read it, and after I read it, I asked him a simple question–
“Does this prayer speak to the desires of your heart?”
He said, “it does.”
So I said, “let me ask you another question, are you ready to receive Jesus as your personal savior today?”
And he said, “I am.”
Reverend Bacon confesses he was a little taken aback by the young man’s willingness to accept Christ right then and there, but he knew this was the Lord being faithful through His Word. He led the young man through the sinner’s prayer and then the young man prayed it himself, sincere in his faith. Reverend Bacon says, “I told him when he had finished praying that there’s nothing magical about this prayer. God looks at your heart, and he knows whether or not you believe with your whole heart. He seemed to understand and have a peace about him.”
As every believer knows, your walk with Christ truly begins after you accept Him into your life. In His Steps prioritizes follow-up with new believers. When we go into the detention centers, we always give new believers something with In His Steps’ name on it and contact information to get in touch with us when they’re released. Additionally, In His Steps does everything within our power to get them connected with a local church. Specifically with this young man, he will be serving time in the detention center on the weekends and during spring break so that he will be able to continue his high school education. While he is in the detention center, Reverend Bacon plans on making pastor’s visits to continue following up with him on what it means to live the Christian life.
So how can supporters of In His Steps help? Of course, we ask that you would pray that the seed that was planted takes root and that this young man would grow in Christ. We ask that you would pray for this one soul who received Christ on January 13th, 2020, and that he would come to understand more about the Christian life, devoting himself to learning more about his God. In a more general sense, we also ask that people would pray for In His Steps to have a more fruitful ministry in the detention centers. We are in the process of expanding with a dear friend and ministry partner who will be able to serve with the girls in detention centers, and we’re so excited for this opportunity!
As Reverend Bacon finished telling of this miracle of a young man coming to Christ, he said, “Here is a word from my heart: the Church, the body of Christ, needs to become a little more intentional about reaching young people. Like never before, our young people are under attack; there are temptations that are alluring these young people from as early as elementary school. I’m a firm believer that children have a sense of belonging, and if they don’t have that need fulfilled in their family and their church, they will look for it elsewhere. My heart’s desire is that the church would become more intentional about engaging the young people around them and making a personal impact on their lives. We have an answer; it’s our responsibility to share it with others.”