Potential in a Yellow Shirt

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.

On the court, I saw a different kid, one who was confident but not arrogant and one who was supremely passionate about the sport of basketball. 

When I first met Tony, he was sitting on a church pew in the facility’s gym, wearing a yellow shirt. Wearing a yellow shirt is a form of discipline when a youth does not follow the rules of the facility. When they’re “on yellow shirt,” they lose privileges, one of which is playing basketball during unstructured leisure time. I had watched him play before, and Tony had the humility to pass the ball to his teammates but the shot to sink it from anywhere on the court, even well behind the three-point line. On the court, I saw a different kid, one who was confident but not arrogant and one who was supremely passionate about the sport of basketball. The way he plays is like nothing I have ever seen in a kid who has been locked up.

As we began to talk, he was distracted by the game on the court. His mother was in jail for the next seven years, and as a result, he had moved in with the father he hadn’t known that he had until a month ago. Soon after moving in, his father was killed in a drug deal gone wrong.

“I have no one,” he said, watching his peers botch up the game.

“I don’t know if this means anything to you, but I care, and I know God does, too, because he sent me to talk with you today.”

The state staff who watch over Tony jumped in to encourage him as well. We talked about hope and a future. We talked about faith and not giving up.

Tony is heading to foster care with the state, but he told us about a former basketball coach who had taken him under his wing and was navigating the process of assuming legal custody. They had met at church, and this coach had seen the same potential that we had all witnessed in Tony. Not only basketball potential but life potential.

May we continually see in others the potential that God sees in us! Please pray for the kids in every facility who have similar stories, the state staff who care for them, and the Youth For Christ leaders who pour their lives into helping each young person!



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