Deep impact is at the root of all St. Andrew’s missional partnerships. Within some ministries, we’re able to serve together at a school across town or board a plane to experience how God is moving in a different country. Other ministries, however, are far more complex. Pacific Youth Correctional Ministries (PYCM) is one such partnership. Brian Davison is a member of St. Andrew’s who has engaged with PYCM for some time now. Below, he shares one particular instance he experienced while serving.
Brian Davison (back row, right) with the St. Andrew’s Serve Day crew, 2016
“PYCM has provided church services, Bible studies, one-on-one discipleship, etc. at all four Orange County probation facilities since 1981. They were one of the only two ministries in the country to qualify to receive a grant from Prison Fellowship in the mid-1990s to start a mentoring program for incarcerated youth. I heard about them in 2010 and attended an orientation to find out more about ministering to troubled youth. The opportunity caught my interest and I began the training and clearance process to become a mentor.
A few years ago, I was matched up with a young man named Isaiah. I remember going inside of Juvenile Hall to meet with him for the first time. Isaiah was friendly and had tons of personality but I could tell he had no idea how to make it in life. We connected a couple more times to come up with a plan to help him after his release. Isaiah had a tough time following the terms of probation and when he turned 18, he went in and out of the county jail a few times. Due to his poor decisions, my contact with Isaiah was limited but I kept the relationship open in case he needed something nonetheless.
Today, Isaiah is 23 years old and living with his girlfriend in Redlands. One day, he gave me a call because he was going to be in Orange County and wanted to meet up and talk. I made plans to pick him up early one morning so he gave me directions to the park where he would be spending the night. I pulled up to the park and found the tent he was sleeping in. From there, we made our way down to the local Starbucks. After getting some coffee and something to eat, we sat down at a table. It was a small shop and no one else was seated around us. Isaiah told me that his girlfriend was probably pregnant and that he had done nothing to stop his drug use. And yet, he kept telling me that he wanted to get off the streets and to stop using drugs. I kept telling him the way to do that was to get into a sober living home or another type of program, but he would make an excuse of why he couldn’t take my advice. The conversation was very unproductive and he could see that I was becoming frustrated. He excused himself to use the restroom while I sat there feeling I should just get up and leave.
Before Isaiah came back, the manager approached our table, handed me a $50 gift card and said, “I want you to know that what you are doing is not going unnoticed. Keep it up and never quit.” He went on to share how he is attending Biola University and preparing for ministry. As he walked away, I felt God give me the patience I needed to keep reaching out to Isaiah. The man’s words of encouragement could not have come at a better time. How important it is to be obedient when we sense the Lord urging us to say something positive to another person!
I wish I could tell you that Isaiah is now walking with the Lord. He isn’t but that day in Starbucks, I learned that God sees us when we are faithful to one another, even in the midst of human brokenness and tendency to sin. God is always faithful to us and because of this I know I need to continue to serve him.”
What we see in Brian’s story is a continued ministry of faithfulness and presence. Though we’d love to see immediate life-change, it is the responsibility of the Holy Spirit to convict and the duty of the Church to love the lost and broken. We are to be a reminding presence of the love of the Father. In this way, we see Brian’s example of Christ-likeness by his loving the broken regardless of personal agenda. PYCM continues with the deeply impactful ministry of presence every day amongst the incarcerated.
Brian Davison (back, right) and the St. Andrew’s Serve Day crew, 2017 with PYCM Chaplain, Rick Johnson (foreground)
If you would like more info about ministering to incarcerated youth in Orange County, please contact email@example.com to find out about the next orientation with Pacific Youth Correctional Ministries.