Aug 22, 2008

The Harvest

I like to blog about funny things. Things like this or this.

Oh, how I wish this post could be fun and lighthearted. It isn't. It can't be.

Studly and I have been blessed beyond measure with the privilege of working with at risk and troubled youth. We've seen the hand of God at work in the lives of these precious kids who just need to be loved and shown the Truth. We've had a front row seat to witness miracles. We've rejoiced when lost kids have come to Christ.

Today, we weep.

Several months ago Studly and I led a team into the county juvenile detention center where we minister most frequently. In our team's briefing that morning, the superintendent mentioned one young girl who had been giving the staff absolute fits. They were perplexed. They were tired. They were out of ideas. This young girl came to them in desperate need. And now they were in desperate need, too. She was taxing their resources in ways they'd never imagined.

Taylor was on "suicide watch," which meant her clothing (and I use that term loosely) was different from the other girls in her pod. She was a wearing a "suicide gown" similar to this one, only shorter. It is very heavy and can't be fashioned into a noose, and no part of it can be turned into a weapon. In other words, she can't hurt herself. Since it fastens with Velcro, it is easy to just rip off at any moment. And she did. Frequently. Running around naked inside a jail where EVERYTHING is on camera? Bad idea.

She tore up a Bible. No one knows why. Then she asked for another one. Denied.

She engaged in some other activities as well, but I won't detail them here.

The guards were at wit's end trying to deal with her. And then they decided they'd try one last thing. They moved her from the "long term" pod to the "short term" pod.

It was as if the old Taylor had disappeared, and a new person appeared in her place. She was cooperative and kind and sweet. There was a light in her eyes again. She was wholly appropriate in her actions and words. She didn't cause any trouble at all.

Two days later, our team showed up to minister in the unit. We were informed of the events so we would understand what we were walking into. She was delightful. She laughed and giggled like any 15-year-old girl. She sat with her peers and listened intently to what we had to say. She asked intelligent questions, and she even thanked us for coming.

Later in the morning, two of our precious - and seasoned - volunteers moved off to the side in order to share with Taylor in a more personal way. Bobbie and Brenda laid out the plan of salvation and asked Taylor if she had ever given her heart to Jesus. She told them she had. They talked with her about reading the Bible and asked her if she had one, knowing from our earlier briefing that she didn't. She told them she was "on restriction" because she had destroyed a Bible, but she wanted another one. Bobbie and Brenda assured her they'd do everything they could to get her another one. And several days later, they did just that.

Eventually Taylor was released from custody and returned home.

Studly Man learned from the superintendent of the prison that earlier this week Taylor took a hunting rifle and shot herself. She did not survive.

She was 15.


She should have had the world by the tail and been full of excitement and anticipation of what the future would bring. She should've been thinking about getting her driver's license and the first day of the new school year. She should've had her iPod playing her favorites songs while she texted her best friend. She should've known how deeply her parents love her. She should've been secure in the knowledge that God's plan for her life was full of good and NOT evil.

Seeing the people, He felt compassion for them, because they were distressed and dispirited like sheep without a shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest." Matthew 9:36-38

Taylor heard the truth. We told her the truth. We believe she knew Jesus. But what if we hadn't gone?

They're out there. They're everywhere. They're right next to you... people who need to be harvested for the Lord. People you know. People who may never see any other representation of Jesus than what they see in you.

The timing is critical. We MUST get to the harvest. A storm is coming...


Anonymous said...

You KNOW you have our prayers for your ministry and the kids that you minister to! We love you both!
Paw & Meegoo

Anonymous said...

Oh how my heart hurts.
Ruby's Fairy Godmother

Susan said...

My heart breaks to hear about Taylor. You are right. People are hurting everywhere. Sometimes we can see it in their eyes and other times we can't.
My church has a "front porch mentality." Meaning we want to invite people to our front porch to get to know them. Then we want to invite them into our living room, then our kitchen. You get the idea.
This makes me more aware of my "front porch" opportunities today. Thank you for sharing this sad story. The storm is coming and the timing IS critical. Thank you, thank you.

GoSuze! said...

Terrific blog entry, dear friend.

Suzanne said...

I'm so sorry to hear about Taylor. I hope I can be there to watch when you meet your sister in Christ again and she is able to let you know the difference you did make. Even though she wasn't strong enough to keep fighting in this world, rest in knowing that she is at peace in the arms of Jesus now.

Stay strong, sweet sister.

DidiLyn said...

I know, I know the burden, the desperate need to reach these loved children of God.
I'm sorry your heart is heavy. But I'm thankful your heart is heavy. Because if it were not, whose would be?
Thanks for loving them. And for following Jesus.

Paula (SweetPea) said...

Yes, the harvest is ready and many.

You have such a wonderful prison ministry. What an awesome opportunity to turn folks from desperation, lost, and hopelessness to so much hope and life full in Christ.
Blessings sweet friend as you deal with this terrible heart ache so close to you.

Sheryl said...

Tragic! What a blessing to know that she knew Jesus but her pain was too great for her to bear. What you and your team are doing is so vitally important. All of us need to be doing that in whatever circumstance God has put us in. Love to you Jenn!!