Parole, Jesus, Adventure & Fun

Posted on by Vince Sarfraz

The following story was written for Youth For Christ USA. These are real YFC Stories showing how God is using YFC USA as a vehicle in raising up life-long followers of Jesus all across the nation.

Just recently, Miguel was released on parole. Now where would he live?

Miguel’s parents split when he was young, so he lived with his mom and stepdad for most of his upbringing. Then one day Miguel wound up behind bars. Miguel’s strained relationship with his stepdad resulted in poor life choices. He joined a gang and began having some serious school problems. He made mistakes as a way to avoid living with his mom and stepdad.

Just recently, Miguel was released on parole. Now where would he live? Fortunately, his father agreed to take him, even though his father’s place was a tiny, two-bedroom apartment occupied by three other children.

One of the most “make or break situations” when working with juvy kids is their transition back to the real world after being locked up. Will life be different? What challenges do they face? Will they wind up in the same gang, wrong crowd, a hard-living environment, or fall into new trip-ups?

Given Miguel’s newest living arrangement, it didn’t appear as if his transition into the community was going to be successful.

But God.

Miguel has become very invested in his new relationship with Jesus. He has persevered and stayed near to God and to myself. We have visited churches side by side and discussed his future in ministry and his commitment to his family.

All of these conversations led to an adventurous, fun, and bonding snow hut trip. We rented snowshoes, backpacks, and food and headed for the mountains. We stayed overnight in a small backcountry cabin and enjoyed the laughter, the great outdoors, and the authentic conversation. 

Miguel shared more about his family and his life. We had a fire and discussed miracles and why bad things happen to good people. We talked about doubts, faith, eternity, and what his struggles will be. Our conversation was rich, distraction-free, and eye-opening.

I prayed about accomplishing a few things on this trip: a deeper connection to Miguel, a deeper connection for Miguel and Jesus, adventure, and FUN. One particular fun adventure was clearly calling our name… sledding! The backcountry snow was perfect, so we took turns sledding through aspen and evergreen trees, hiking back up the hill, and laughing at our thrilling mountain adventure. After growing up in the juvenile system, Miguel was finally getting to be a kid! The smiles, laughter, and great conversation made our excursion more than worth it.

There was a series of “firsts” on this trip, and as a result, they created much depth and picture-perfect memories. A “first” for being away from the juvy system and his neighborhood in the city! A “first” for backpacking and hiking. A “first” for chopping wood and starting a fire. A “first” for sledding down a mountain. And a “first” for turning a corner in his relationship with Jesus, leaning in and not looking back.

When we take a kid out of his/her comfort zone, it often creates freedom, fear, insecurities, challenge, and excitement. But more important, it signifies a newness moving forward and a visual of something bigger than themselves. It gives perspective and allows for deep conversation about life and about God.

Your efforts, prayer, finances, and support allow us to step into young people’s lives, take them on trips, make a difference, and make disciples! Thank you for helping me serve young people. 


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