Sunday Morning, 6:30 AM
It has suddenly gotten cold in Ohio. I wonder where the warm temperatures have gone. I also wonder where my sanity has gone. Waking up at 6 AM to go to a juvenile detention center? Leaving my comfort zone AND my comfortable bed to see people who have made the choice to commit crimes? I really must be crazy.
We arrive at church. Well, at least this place is familiar. At least I’m not alone. Sarah, Laura and P. Mann are all here. I think I’ll be ok. I think this is really what God wants me to do. Maybe I am a little crazy, but that is ok.
We arrive at CAS. It is just off a main road. It looks like a normal place, the signs don’t emphasis that there are bad people inside these buildings. Maybe it’s a nice place after all. P. Mann opens the first door. It seems like a normal building. But then the lock clicks to open the second door and we walk through a metal detector. A lock clicks to open a third door and we enter into a small room. Another lock clicks to open a fourth door and we enter a long, wide hallway. It looks exactly like a high school, except there are locks on everything. The receptionist welcomes P. Mann. Along with being a full time chaplain and a full time pastor, he visits this place regularly. There are four units, and of course the door is locked. The receptionist asks how long we would like in each unit. It really is like prison…just like on the movies. We ask for 15 minutes in each unit.
Going into the first one I had a million thoughts running through my head. Will people think that I am better than them because life hasn’t given me the hard blows that it has given many of them? Will they respect us or listen to us? Do they want to kill me? All sorts of questions are flying through my mind. By this time I was convinced that I truly am crazy. Only a crazy person associates with people like these! Each man was respectful, giving their name, how old they were. As I looked at each boy in the eye, my heart broke. They were all so innocent. So hurt. So in need of love, of answers, of salvation. I know that they committed crimes that they are not ‘good people’, but they were all merely children!
The last unit that we went into was the girls unit. We were warned before entering that they had been bad, that we probably shouldn’t even go in and that they absolutely would not listen to us. But God worked a miracle in that room, in that juvenile detention center. I know without a doubt that his spirit touched each of their hearts. They opened up to us. They talked to us. They asked us questions. They even demanded that we come back! At that moment, I knew without a doubt that I was not crazy for waking up at 6 AM, that I was not crazy for stepping foot in a detention center, but that God knew exactly what He was doing when he woke me up at 6 AM, when he took me to CAS safely and when every single one of those doors and those hearts opened up to me.
I absolutely cannot get this experience out of my head or my heart!!