Juvenile Lockup

Juvenile Lockup in a Prison is one of the hardest Ministries I've seen in my Life on the Road.

I have been blessed to have been in several Ministries throughout my life. One of those is Prison Ministry for over 30 years. It Is one of the hardest and most rewarding things I have ever done. Some of the finest people I have ever met are In prison. I know this Ministry Is not for everyone, but those who are Called full time are some of the strongest Ministers I have ever known.

I want to share one of the many experiences I have personally had happen to me going into prisons.

One of the hardest places I have ever been Is Juvenile Prison.

This story takes place In Texas a few years ago. I was Invited to go there and I still choke up talking about It today. I went In with a young, black, Christian Rap artist. My age and type of music did not flt this genre and I didn't like Rap at all. I didn't even consider it a music form. On top of that, I thought ''what do I have in common with a 14 year old kid from Chicago In prison."

I asked one of the guards about 3 young baby.faced boys sitting at a table by themselves away from the rest of the prisoners. He told me that one was 10 years old and the other two were 11 and they had murdered someone.

I cannot remember the young man's name who rapped to the prisoners that day, but he changed my whole judgmental way of thinking of his music. He opened his Bible and started rapping the words to a music beat and WOW!! I realized right then and there that the Lord uses his people to reach others.

The only problem I had after that was how was I going to relate to these kids. I didn't know what I was going to say or play on my guitar. Thank goodness I was prayed up because until I opened my mouth I did not have a clue. Like that old saying "I was like a fish out of water".

As I stood in front of approximately 60 to 70 kids, I still didn't know what I was going to say. I must have looked a 100 years old to some of them and I doubt if they had even heard of Willie Nelson. There were around 70% black kids and around 30% white and Hispanic kids. I had been praying that the Lord would give me the right thing to say and then IT happened.

I opened my mouth! Without thinking about it, I said that I represented those in their family who had broken hearts at home. I said I represented their parents and grandparents, brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles. Or just friends, who needed them at home. I told them it wasn't too late to get things right, and to open up to those who really loved them and let them know how much they loved them.

I played a couple of silly songs and taught them how to go yeeha!!

Their hearts were open and what happened next still blows me away. Many started crying and just smothered me with pain and tears. One of the guards told me he had never seen that before. I am sure some were phony, but I know that some of them were the real thing.

Many reminded me of kids I knew throughout my life. The part that stays with me and breaks my heart to this day is when I looked Into the eyes of children (black, white, Hispanic and oriental), I didn't see prisoners - I saw kids!

As I was leaving one of the guards told me that statistics show that most kids who go there are In and out of prison for the rest of their lives or don't make it to adulthood.

Pray for those who are CALLED to minister in prisons that there will be an outpouring of love and forgiveness and many Inmates will come to know and trust the Lord.

"Sharing the gift and love of music through giving."

Jimmy Jack Whitaker is the founder, president and CEO of the Jimmy Jack Foundation, a fully-determined IRS 501(c)(3) non-profit foundation eligible to receive tax deductible donations.

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