I apologize for being MIA the last several weeks. March is an incredibly difficult month for me, as it marks my brother’s suicide (5 years ago) and my dad’s stroke (11 years ago). This year those dates fell on the days of the week that they originally happened, and it made it even harder for me because of the way my mind processes these things. I tend to go into a cocoon as much as possible as I honor my brother’s memory and give myself permission to grieve. The farther out from the initial tragedy we get, the harder it is to find permission to grieve from others who don’t understand or who handle grief differently, and that’s okay – hard, but okay. I’m so thankful, though, that God’s grace and strength are sufficient. His compassion is everlasting, and our tears are so important to Him that He keeps them in a bottle and makes a record of them in His book. (Ps. 56:8)
This week we are going to pray for New Start Ministries, directed by Walt Valentine. This organization connects adjudicated youth with a local, faith-based ministry for mentoring, faith enrichment, and a new start in life. They work with the Alabama Dept. of Youth Services to meet with any youth who volunteers for assistance in finding a church in their local community to help them. NSM is a participating mentoring organization with Mentor Alabama.
New Start Ministries give Alabama churches opportunities to make a difference in the lives of youth who want their help to make a new start in life. One of the key ways they do this is through their pen-pal program, in which Christian adults can sign up to communicate to a youth of the same gender in the NSM program through written letters/cards, after going through a screening and training process. If I understand correctly, there are currently only girls involved in this aspect of the program, so they need Christian women to become pen-pals. According to the National Mentoring Partnership, mentored teens are 46% less likely to get into drugs, 59% more likely to get better grades, 73% more likely to raise their goals, and according to a Prison Fellowship study, being mentored reduces recidivism up to 80%! To find out more about the pen-pal program, click here.
Hebrews 12:1-2 – 1 Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.
Lord God, there are not enough words to express our awe and delight in You, nor to express our gratitude for sending Your Son to die for us. We praise the One who paid our debt and raised us up to be seated with Him in the heavenly places. You are worthy of all honor and glory and power and blessing! You have redeemed us with Your blood, Lord Jesus, and You are redeeming everything in our lives so that they are for our good and for Your glory. What power! What Sovereignty! What grace! Hallelujah to the Lamb!!
We lift up Walt Valentine and New Start Ministries to You, Lord, and we ask that You would increase their capacity to reach the youth who are involved in Alabama’s Justice System. Give them Your vision for what You have called New Start Ministries to be and to do, and we pray You would also provide them with the funds, the strength, the wisdom, and the volunteers they need to accomplish Your vision. Give them the strength and grace they need to run the race with endurance. Protect their hearts from the many heart-breaking stories and lives they encounter. Keep their eyes fixed on You. If there is anything hindering this ministry, we pray that by Your grace You would reveal those hindrances so that they can be laid aside. Bless New Start Ministries, Lord God, and every life it touches.
We also lift up before You the girls and young ladies who are involved in the mentoring program through New Start Ministries. Most of them have face harder things than we can possibly imagine. All of them carry the scars of the choices they’ve made and the circumstances that led them to those choices. God, You are the Redeemer. We pray that You would turn their scars into stories of redemption, of forgiveness, of amazing grace. Let their identities go from that of “adjudicated youth” to “daughter of the King of Kings”. May the power of the Holy Spirit breath on them through every letter they receive from their mentors. The enemy came to steal these girls’ futures, to kill them, and to destroy any hope they had, but You, Lord Jesus, came to give them abundant life! (Jn. 10:10) In Jesus’ name, we ask that You would cause every encumbrance to their life in You to be laid aside. Destroy every stronghold of fear, of hate, of shame, of addiction, of poverty in Jesus’ name! Deliver them out of the kingdom of darkness and into Your kingdom of Eternal light! Even after becoming Your child, many of these ladies have hard lives waiting on them outside “the system”, and so we pray that You would clothe them by Your Spirit with grace, strength, and endurance to run the race You have set before them. Let them fix their eyes on Jesus as their example and as the One whom their soul loves.
Raise up churches and individuals in our churches to reach out and mentor these youth. Forgive us, Lord, for our complacency and our fear of getting involved in hard things. Fill us with Your compassion that moves us out of our comfort zones and into the battle zone. For those who are already involved, we pray that You would give them Your words to communicate to the young ladies they are mentoring. Give them Your prayers to pray. Equip them to fight for these girls as You call them to. We pray all of these things for Your name’s sake. Amen.
How is the Lord leading you to pray? Feel free to contribute to the “prayer conversation” by leaving a comment.