Upward Bound Outreach November FDJJ trip

Today was an amazing day. We visited Pompano Beach and then later a facility in Miami. The first facility started around 10am. I stood against the side wall as Jeff began his intro. He started talking with the youth about Upward Bound’s year in Florida. There is so much more to the program now. We have many stories that we can share about previous facilities. As Jeff was connecting with the youth, I was observing some of the kids and their behavior. Before we entered the facility we were talking to the director of the facility and she was telling us about a kid named Mark. Mark was very defiant during an earlier morning meeting with the director. Mark was the director’s favorite student but he had become very defiant leading up to his release. He will be released this coming monday. Mark was sitting in the front row on the far right. I didn’t make the connection at first while Jeff was talking but did later as we walked around to shake each kid’s hands, he refused to shake our hands. Jeff talked to him for a few minutes…Long story a little shorter…We made our way around the room and shook all the student’s hands and also passed out “you are loved!” bracelets to all the kids. (the first facility that we have ever passed out bracelets) I was standing to the back and a few kids approached me. Nick and Brett. They both were sharing their stories with me and expressing their gratitude for Upward Bound Outreach coming out to see them. While I was talking to Nick and Brett, Jeff finally got Mark to agree to at least accept a bracelet. Mark eventually shook Jeff’s hand. It was a great facility and we made a lot of connections. This post is getting long and I haven’t even talked about the second facility yet. This next facility was one of a kind. Actually, the only like it in the whole state of Florida. The facility housed teenage mothers AND their babies. We have never seen anything like this. We were not prepared for the next few hours. (actually 4hrs) We went into a small room with nineteen young mothers. About half of them had their babies in their arms. The other half of the babies were in a nursery with faculty. I loved this facility. Jeff started doing a great job of connecting with these girls. I sensed the pain and emotion in the room so by the time Jeff introduced me, I was already emotional and I could tell that I would not be able to get through my testimony without the ‘waterworks’ flowing. I was constantly thinking about my mom and what she went through in terms of domestic violence. I knew that some of these girls had been through domestic violence situations (confirmed that later with some personal chats). We were honored to get this opportunity. Jeff and I walked around the room. We hugged and shook the girl’s hands. Each girl looked at me and told ME “you are loved!” It meant so much to me. As I walked up to one of the faculty (Adrianne), I noticed that Adrianne had been crying a lot during the program. She asked for a hug and I later found out that her sister was involved in a domestic violence situation a few months back in which her boyfriend shot her four times. As she was telling us this, tears were streaming down her face. (she was sharing this during some personal chats that we had with five of the girls after the program was over). Such an emotional day and I will never forget the looks in these girl’s eyes. While I talked with another girl about her life,  her beautiful baby girl was just staring at my curly hair (I get that a lot from babies, haha). I will never forget the talk Jeff and I had with the four girls after the program and the girl who revealed her life situation and how it was so similar to what my mom was going through. She had two kids with her boyfriend. He has beat her and threatened to kill her if she leaves him. Yet, she admitted that she will be returning to him after she gets out because she has nowhere else to go, etc. I sat down next to her and expressed my concern. I said that I can’t help my mother now but please take some advice from my mom. DO NOT go back to him out of fear or because of being scared of being alone. We all sat around and talked a little longer but eventually had to leave because the young girls needed to eat dinner, etc. This was an amazing day with so much emotion and we are so excited to see what happens on the rest of the trip. Please pray for the ‘follow up’ process. Upward Bound Outreach is making arrangements to write letters to some of these kids and also finding some support systems for these kids in their home cities when they leave. A lot of work but we love it. Thank you all for your support. We will update more later…God Bless

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  1. #1 by Crystal Keith on November 12, 2010 - 12:10 am

    I started crying as soon as you started talking about the teenage mom’s facility. I wish I could have been there with you. I am so proud of you and thankful that God is using you in this way. I love you!

  2. #2 by Debbie Kay on November 12, 2010 - 12:24 am

    Wow, that made me cry Chris. I have been praying for you guys and your trip and will continue. You guys are a blessing to so many. So proud of you. May God’s blessing and anointing continue to be upon you as you minister and serve. Praying for these kids that your words will open up their hearts to THE ONE who can bind up their wounds and bring them hope!

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