That is how one of the youth in the Juvenile Detention Center described what it's like to be locked up over Christmas. It is difficult for anyone who has to spend Christmas behind bars, but for kids it's especially heart breaking. This year, some of our staff and volunteers had the extreme privilege of spending Christmas inside the walls of the JDC, with those who feel most forgotten about during the holidays.
Because of some incredible donors, we were not only able to give each of the kids a gift to open, but we were also able to provide the JDC with some much needed resources to utilize with the kids when they have free time. We brought in beautiful trays of baked goodies, and took turns reading from Luke 2 as a group.
As we discussed the enormity of the meaning behind why God chose Mary, a young unmarried virgin from a town that no one cared about, the incredible decision to choose a group of shepherds to first tell about the birth of Jesus, and the intentional choice to have the Son of God born in a lowly manger, their eyes lit up and excitement grew. This is a Savior for all, not just the elite. This is a God who reached down into the depths of our darkness to be with us. This is a God who forgives, loves, and restores.
For two of the kids, this was the first Christmas Celebration they had experienced in years. And for us that were honored to spend it with them, it was a perfect picture of why God sent His Son to live among us. He could have chosen a Queen, or a wealthy merchant to bring His Son into the world. He could have chosen a palace for Him to be born in. He could have even announced His birth to the whole world at the same time using an Angel Choir.
But He didn't.
He chose those that no one else would have, in a place that no one would desire to be.
At Next Chapter, it is our mission to build long lasting relationships with those impacted by crime. This Christmas, looking around at the room of kids that were desperate for hope, hungry to hear that their mistakes didn't define them, needing to know that they were loved, the most important relationship we could offer them is that of this tiny little babe, born in a lowly manger in the little town of Bethlehem.