As I loaded my chocolate chip cookie with vanilla frosting, I thought about the fact that I’d learned to do that while working for the Texas Youth Commission (TYC) from a volunteer group. I then began to reflect on the fact that the group had impressed me so, that whenever possible, I load up and spend the three day retreat with them ministering to kids in TYC. Before going to work at TYC, I knew that there was a place for bad kids, but that was the extent of my knowledge. After I went to work for TYC, the “bad kids” had names, faces and were human. It was my job to find people that were willing to take of their personal time to interact and minister to these children. The diligence and commitment of the volunteers moved me beyond my every imagination. I’d go out and speak to groups in the community and gain more volunteers.
One day while in my office, I received a call from a lady saying that she wanted to come in and do a three-day retreat with the boys at the facility where I worked. Immediately I thought she was crazy. I mean, where would they stay? How would they do all of the things they were talking about? Well, little did I know, they had practice. Epiphany is a part of a much larger group called The Emmaus Community. They actually went into adult prisons and did this as well. Not to mention the retreats they did for women, men and college students. I agreed to meet with them. There were three representatives from the Epiphany group, my superintendent, the director of security and myself. The more they talked, the more I said “yes” and the more the director of security said “no.” Fortunately, John Hopkins, the superintendent at the time was a man of God and agreed with me. The kids needed “Epiphany.”
There are no words to describe the ministry that took place on that first weekend and the selfless acts I have witnessed from that group of volunteers over the years since. I do know, that there are adults out there living as productive parts of their communities today, who would otherwise be in prison or dead, had they not been introduced to God through Epiphany. So here’s my epiphany…..we could all use an epiphany in our lives and many of us can give and be a part of someone else’s epiphany. If you would be interested in volunteering with Epiphany and making a difference in the lives of kids who have been locked away and who the world has seemingly forgotten, please contact me at [email protected] There are epiphany retreats at several Texas Youth Commission facilities throughout the state. I’ll bet there’s one not too far from you.