“His Tears Were Running Down My Arm”

Posted on by Bonnie Rodriguez

This story is not about this photo, and yet, in many ways, it is totally about this photo.

A few weeks ago, the Marlins Foundation reached out to me about free tickets for youth, staff, and volunteers. Staff sent in their requests, and we received around 150 tickets for upcoming games. Because of our relationship with the Department of Juvenile Services and our Project Dade reentry program, we've recently been able to reestablish connections with youth who have completed or are finishing serving time. We were able to hook up 8 of these young men and two of our adult mentors with tickets for a Thursday night game.

I love this picture. When Ronnie, our JJM Director, sent it to me, my eyes pooled up. Why? Because the same week, our JJM Program Director, Angel, told me this story:

Angel and Glenn were at the Broward Detention Center, sharing that Jesus offers full forgiveness for our sins. After they finished sharing, boys were able to request talking one-on-one. A young man named Don Paolo* came to Angel to begin talking. He was barely able to get out the words before tears started spilling down his face. He buried his head in Angel's shoulder and cried, cried, and cried. "His tears were running down my arm," Angel shared.

Our boys in detention are not always innocent. I'm not trying to minimize or deflect from the crimes they have committed. But what I do know is that these young men are carrying too much. From 4 or 5 years old, many of them are carrying burdens that I still haven't and may never face - death of a parent or sibling, physical abuse at the hands of loved one, extreme hunger for days on end.

To see these same boys smiling, holding baseballs, enjoying a game...to see them for a second setting down their burdens and just enjoying life...to see them getting a taste of the abundant life promised in Jesus...and then to realize at the same time, there are still a few hundred boys just like them, locked up tonight, crying so many tears they could soak a grown man's arm...this is burden we at YFC carry.

As the pandemic slows down, we will be able to bring volunteers back into detention centers and long-term facilities. We need people - especially men - to serve this next generation. To hold out their arms to encourage, support, and care for youth who feel they have been written off. Will you join us?

Johanna Ralsten-Cox
Ministries Director

*name changed

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