How listening could change someone else's lifeApr 26, 2021 12:31PM ● By Vic Stinemetze
Ask someone their story and let God change their life
I met Jeremy in the fall of 2000. He had just finished a six-month sentence at the Department of Youth Corrections, so I picked him up and transported him to the shelter where I worked.
The day before, I’d attended a conference hosted by the Department of Human Services. The keynote speaker was a therapist who had worked with Native American youth on a reservation in North Dakota. He said, “Every kid has a story, and every kid wants to tell his story. And it’s not the story that’s in the case files. When you ask a young person their story, you open the door to relationship. Everything begins there.”
I thought about the speaker’s g. words as we made our way to the shelter. I turned to Jeremy and asked, “So, what’s your situation?” His reply was significant.
“I’ve grown up in a bad part of Grand Junction. My dad and his brothers have been in street gangs all their lives. They’ve been in and out of prison many times. Lots of drugs and alcohol. My mom is getting ready to serve a 90-day-sentence in the county jail for too many DUIs,” he shared.
Inspired by the Holy Spirit, I said, “You know, you don’t have to go down that same road. It can end in your generation.”
Jeremy replied, “I’d like that.”
Over the course of our relationship, I took Jeremy and other youth from the shelter to church on Sunday mornings and Wednesday nights each week. At one of the services, Jeremy gave his life to God.
After a couple of months, he was transferred to a local group home, but I still ran into him from time to time. One day, I saw a large announcement in the paper: Jeremy was graduating high school with honors! He received a summer scholarship to Colorado School of Mines and a four-year scholarship to Mesa State College (now Colorado Mesa University), where he started in the fall.
Tragically, he lost his life during his first semester. My heart was broken.
At the funeral, his brother shared that the day before Jeremy died, he walked by the group home where he had once lived and asked to talk to the young men sitting on the front porch.
“I know you guys,” he said. “I used to live here. I know your stories. But you don’t have to continue down that road. It can end in your generation.”
Jeremy broke his family’s cycle of incarceration, crime and drug use. It started with a simple question that led to a relationship with God.
Like Jeremy, there are hundreds of young men across the Western Slope who have some concept of God but no idea of his will for their lives. Many have never set foot in a church.
When Jeremy and I walked in the front door of his group home, the Lord impressed on me that one day, I would be part of a mission in a group home where men would learn about God, his will and how to have a relationship with him.