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Story

Jesus in Juvy
By Kirsten Strawn - July 28, 2011

Darryl Anderson has discovered his purpose.  Retired from the US Postal Service and having raised two children, Darryl now carries the Word of God to troubled youth behind bars in Juvenile Hall.

 

Darryl has never been incarcerated but grew up with the pain of a father who chose alcohol, women, and gambling over his family.  Darryl left home at 17, bitter and angry, vowing never to be like his father when raising his own children.

 

When his older brother miraculously walked away, unscathed, from a horrible car accident, his brother came to know the God who saves.  Through the power of his brother’s testimony and the love other Christians shared with him, God began to chip away at Darryl’s hard heart.

 

God pursued Darryl and took away the blinders of unbelief; He changed Darryl’s attitude, demeanor and heart.  Recognizing God’s grace and mercy had saved him, Darryl felt a burden to serve the men at Donovan State Prison.

 

After several years of sharing God’s love with the men behind bars, he discovered two common denominators among many of the inmates:  as teenagers they had been to Juvenile Hall and most grew up without a father in the home.

 

Darryl recognized this as an opportunity to show the Father’s love and compassion to the teens in Juvenile Hall.  He wanted to stem the tide of violence and crime by planting the seed of God’s Word in the hearts of incarcerated youth.  He knew God’s promises that His Word never returns void, that it’s alive and active, and transforms hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

 

God’s Word Penetrates Hearts

 

“Ain’t you the church guy?” The words shot across the career fair table, as teens were ushered through the building to collect information that might inspire them to go in a positive direction.

 

Darryl Anderson rarely saw the teenage boys outside the walls of Kearny Mesa Juvenile Hall where he and five other volunteers from the Rock Church share God’s message of love and hope.  As minors, these boys come out of the system with no additional follow-up allowed.

 

On this rare occasion, at Career Day, as Darryl was handing out Bibles, he looked at the kid wearing the grey camp uniform and said, “Yep, that’s me.  What did you learn when you heard me teach in Juvy?”

 

The dark-faced teenager looked Darryl in the eyes and said, “I learned Colossians 3:20:  Obey your parents to please God.”

 

Darryl beamed, thrilled that the boy remembered the Scripture he preached to the teens that rotated, every three weeks, through chapel services.

 

To have a blessed life, Darryl teaches the youth to obey their parents’ rules, authority figures and God.  Using an illustration the teens can relate to, he teaches that obeying traffic signs protects us from going off the side of the road and that following rules prevents people from getting injured.  The same is true of God’s Word in that obeying the teachings of the Bible protects us from experiencing unnecessary harm, regret and despair.

 

Darryl says, “I emphasize the importance of reading the Word daily to get all the blessings that God has for them.”  After the message he offers them the opportunity to sign a contract that reads, “I will obey my parents in all things for this is well pleasing to the Lord (Colossians 3:20).”

 

Most of the wayward boys agree to sign the contract.  One boy asked Darryl for another explaining that when his mother visited him the previous week, he gave her the signed contract as a gift.

 

The Value of Teamwork

 

Darryl Anderson depends on his dedicated team who come together, using their various gifts, talents and compassion, to minister God’s grace to the youth.  They pray together for God to raise up a generation of teachers, preachers and ministers of God’s Word.

 

Darryl invests in the lives of San Diego’s hurting youth at Juvenile Hall, demonstrating the love of Jesus and preaching the Word of God- the only hope for a lost generation.