More Than a Bible Lesson

Posted on by Vince Sarfraz

The following story was written by a member of the Youth For Christ USA Cities Pursuit Community. These are real stories and pieces showing how God is using YFC USA as a vehicle in raising up lifelong followers of Jesus all across the nation.

Many volunteers start with wonderful intentions but end up disappointed after teaching a young person how Christ can help them overcome their past, only to find them falling into the same patterns as before. Often, the problem isn’t the teaching, but that these kids cannot fully comprehend the lesson. They are simply too distracted by the very real physical needs in their lives.

Meet Shane. Shane came to our groups every week without fail. However, he never talked and always seemed distracted - staring out windows or at the floor. He rolled his eyes whenever any adult tried to talk to him and grunt out an answer if he had to. Kids at school made fun of him, but he never seemed to notice. He was the definition of apathetic.

Shane’s peers laughed at him because he was always wearing the same clothes: a stretched-out white t-shirt that was covered in stains, baggy, dirty black jeans, and white tennis shoes that were falling apart. He usually smelled bad and his hair looked like it hadn’t been washed in weeks.

After noticing this, we paid a visit to his probation officer and accompanied him on a home visit. Come to find out Shane only had ONE PAIR of clothes and shoes. Not only that, but we discovered he was sharing a studio apartment with his mother who was a crack addict and prostitute. When she needed to “work” he was forced to walk around the neighborhood at any time of day or night until she was finished. Then he would return home to either sleep in that same bed or on a small loveseat they had. He barely had any food to eat because all of the money his mother got from her and Shane’s disability checks were spent on drugs. 

Shane stared at the floor and didn’t participate in mentor activities because he was filled with shame, hunger, exhaustion, anger, and fear. He rolled his eyes at adults because he had never known one he could trust. We were trying to teach him about spiritual things when he was just trying to survive from day to day.

If it weren’t for a volunteer sharing her observations with Shane’s Probation Officer, neither would have learned of the extreme neglect and abuse he was living in. He could have flown under our radar, attending our groups just for the food and air conditioning and never receiving the true help he so desperately needed.

We walked alongside him as the County placed him in a good group home after his mother was arrested on drug charges. A generous volunteer donated money to buy a whole new wardrobe for Shane and to take him out to eat – and boy, could he eat!  

The true Shane was revealed after his needs were met. He held his head up, smiled, and participated in groups – not because he simply heard about the love of Christ, but because he experienced it.


Tera Swigart is the Community Engagement Coordinator for YFC Houston and has worked with youth in the Juvenile Justice System since 1999. She is also the founder/Editor-in-Chief for FRUIT magazine distributed throughout Texas to youth within Juvenile Justice facilities, community centers, churches, and to individuals.

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