Hope can change any direction

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 22, 2010

Over the past 30 years, I’ve had the opportunity to speak at schools, churches, civic organizations, industries, drug rehabilitation centers and many jails. I usually don’t have a problem getting the group’s attention.

The groups that I’m most challenged by are at youth detention centers. These institutions house young boys and girls from 11 to 17 years of age. Most of them are being held for minor offenses such as probation violation, not attending school and disturbing the peace. Some of the more serious charges are armed robbery, battery and attempted murder.

When I was first asked to speak to these young people, I assumed it would be easier than any adult correctional center.

What is the reason for the resistance I encounter in these youth centers? The one common denominator is a feeling of hopelessness. These young people have all by given up. Many are repeat offenders who have been in and out of detention centers three, four or even as many as 10 times.

Last week as I awaited the guards to escort the young boys I was to address at a youth detention center, I was amazed at the size of the first two. They weighed about 65 pounds, looked angry and never smiled. They were seated at the front table.

I asked one his name and how old he was. He was 12 years old. “What is your charge?” I asked. “I beat up my mom,” he answered.

The next young boy also was 12, and his reply was that he beat up a teacher.

They both answered without any expression on their faces but a lot of hatred in their hearts.

What, if anything, can change the path of destruction most of these young boys are on? The only solution is for someone to get the message to them that there is hope for their future.

Hope is defined as a feeling that what is wanted is likely to happen; desire accompanied by expectation.

What can we, as Christians, do? Be alert to someone headed in the wrong direction, and encourage them with a message of hope.

If you have any questions or comments, please write to Get High on Life, P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084, call (985) 652-8477, or e-mail: hkeller@comcast.net.