The Impact of Juvenile Justice Ministry from a Parent's Perspective

The following paragraphs feature a parent’s perspective on Juvenile Justice Ministry. The work to serve youth in such a capacity is a collective effort. We at YFC are thankful for collaborative efforts with Rockford Reachout and ultimately praise God for transformation such as this.


“I would like to express a few things as to how JJM has been beneficial for my family. I will only be able to use one person as our experience has been mainly with him. Jake came into my sons life due to poor decisions my son was making in his life at the time. He was running wild, acting defiant, being destructive towards others including minors and adults, breaking the law, trying his hand in drug use, missing school, as well as many things I could list.

Just under a year ago my son was sentenced to time at the local Juvenile Detention Center. He was scared, out of his element, away from the influential people he was hanging out with. But I’m not convinced he was ready to make a change in life yet. He was anxious to get home but I believe based on certain things that he was more anxious to get back to this inappropriate lifestyle.  

He was fortunate to be able to meet Jake (our JJM director) during his stay in the detention center. He would attend meetings on a weekly basis. It began as a group and eventually was able to get to a point where he had time with less people in the group. He took an interest and really began to learn about what Jake had to talk about. It seems to me (since I wasn’t there) that Jake would talk about things in the Bible and bring information for my son  (as well as others) to read and learn from. But it didn’t stop with that. My son was able to relate to him so well, since Jake would read things or talk about things and then ask something to the effect of “what does that mean to you”, or “how can you relate to this”? Without my son even recognizing what was happening, I believe in my heart that he was understanding the way of being a Christian without even stating it specifically.

My son was eager to have these visits with Jake and to learn more. I know this because when his Dad and I were allowed to visit, he would spend much of that visit telling us what he has learned without us even asking, and having a smile on his face while doing so.  

Fast forwarding to him being released. Since my son was released to come home, we still are in touch with Jake and have had him over for visits, meals, attended church together, spent time learning and talking and so much more. My son is currently living life much differently.  He is going to church regularly, working full time, working on his high school diploma, drug free, law abiding, and has a strong interest in joining the military once he is through with high school.

In the past my son would not have had anything to do with religion without being rebellious.  It became embarrassing to try to make him attend, so as you can imagine, the effort stopped. Since he has become more tuned in to the reward that goes with being a Christian I believe he has fully accepted him into his heart and we have JJM to thank for this.  

The Youth For Christ Camp that is coming in August is something we are all looking very forward to. I would have always dreamed for my son to take part in something like this, without looking at it as a chore. He is eager to go and teach and learn and be a part of the excitement.   

I know my son is only one person, but if this program can reach these kids in one way or another, God Bless It. These kids that need guiding can relate to the leaders and quickly develop respect for them. This is a program that will hopefully always be available. I’ve seen first hand the success it has to offer.

Thank you for helping saving my son.”

Youth for Christ Annual Banquet: "Plot Twist"

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The annual Youth for Christ banquet was held at Giovanni’s on April 4th with the theme “Plot Twist.” The event captured the latest developments in YFC’s ministry, highlighting how “plot twists” are occurring through YFC’s outreach as lost youth find hope in Jesus.

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More importantly, the evening magnified the gospel of Jesus Christ. The good news of the gospel is the ultimate “plot twist,” as Jesus has offered forgiveness from our sin and a new life in Him. This is something we all need. It’s not just broken teens in need of the gospel. It’s everybody.

We were privileged to have YFC USA President Dan Wolgemuth as our guest speaker. We are encouraged and challenged by his leadership as he pointed us all to the life of Jesus.

We praise God for our annual banquet and are grateful to see continued momentum as we expand our vision.

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We would also like to thank our sponsors for helping make this event possible: Subway JPW (Platinum Sponsor), Jack Wolf Auto Group, SVL Productions, Tim & Karen Ancona, Chuck & Karen Blomgren, Roy & Beverly Blumenshine, Advanced Machine & Engineering Co., David Anderson (Spring Creek Partners), Rick & Ann Anderson, Gary Love (Baird Financial Advisors), Culver’s, Rick Engen, FIELD, Luke & Cristina Frederick, Lori Haugen Tutorial & Editing Services, John & Karen Hranka, Dr. John & Dena Koehler, Larson & Larson Builders, Inc., MembersAlliance Credit Union, Bill & Terri Roop, Stateline Church, David Zierke (State Farm Insurance), Jeff Luedke (Stifel), Streamline Architects, Thrivent, John Widell Construction, Inc.

We would also like to thank all who gave to the silent auction.

Christ's Love Compels


This is a post from YFC Ministry Director Beth Fontana:

1 Corinthians 5:14-15 says, "For Christ's love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and who was raised again."

So often I wonder how it is that I have the privilege of coming alongside high-risk teens. I never struggled with the law growing up. I didn't come from an abusive past. I felt validated and loved by my parents and encouraged to be all God has created me to be. 

I don't have a clue of what it is like to live the lives these precious teens live every day. I cannot relate to living in survival mode. They can't think past today. These children do not have the capacity to wait on things. It is very hard to control their impulses, especially with anger. It shows up in their relationships.

Why is my heart tender for them? Because God's heart is tender towards them. I want them to know that there is more to life than what they are experiencing. I want to give them an opportunity to receive the love and acceptance from a caring adult, which makes way for the gospel. My passion is that every high-risk young person will know they are loved and then hear about the One who loves them the most. 

Christ loves compels me. I am one who is broken reaching out to another who is also broken. Together, we will learn to no longer live for ourselves, but for the One who gives us new life.

I recently received a letter from a young lady that I have been corresponding with at the Department of Corrections for juveniles. This young woman was the first girl I met with at the JDC. She has been in and out of the JDC several times and this is her second stint at DOC. Below is a small part of what she shared with me.

“It made my day getting a letter from you. If you have enough time are you able to come and see me? It would mean a lot to me if you are able to visit. I really appreciate you thinking of me. It feels nice to know that when I am out of sight, I’m still on your mind. Sometimes I have really rough days. So now when I’m having really rough days, I’m gonna read your card of encouragement. I have been going to church services and I like going. It’s really changing my train of thought. It gives me a lot of knowledge and wisdom.”  

Christ’s love compels!

A Day at Campus Life


“What happens at Campus Life?”

We are often asked this. So here’s a snapshot of a day at Campus Life. We are in five schools through Campus Life. This blog post specifically features activities at Auburn High School.

On Thursdays, our leaders kick off the afternoon by hanging out with teens during the Early Release hour. While some students depart, many students remain on campus in the cafeteria. We engage them through games, conversations, and ultimately relationship-building.

Students then gather with our leaders in the library, where Campus Life occurs. Food, laughter, games, and focused conversation on Christ and life are all regular components of Campus Life.


On a recent Thursday, our leaders discussed healthy boundaries with students and the value of relationships. They did a fun exercise involving a maze and blindfolded participants.

The maze featured pieces of paper with an “exploding bomb” printed on them that they were to avoid.

Each participant had a partner, who was the only voice that could help guide them through the maze. To make it harder and more confusing, other students were allowed to get really loud to distract. This presented challenges!

The exercise demonstrated that communication is often torn in friendships and relationships. Sometimes we listen to the wrong voices. We need to block out distractions and only listen to one voice.

Learning such skills leads to developing healthy boundaries within relationships and the ability to discern which voices in one’s life are healthy.


Such activities foster deeper relationships between our leaders and the youth.

Moreover, it’s our consistent presence within schools that highlights God’s love. The presence of loving leaders point youth to God’s voice and His grace and mercy found in Jesus Christ.

This is Campus Life. Contact us about getting involved!

A Vision for 2019: Excellence

It is easy to desire excellence. The hard work comes with putting excellence into action.

This is our focus at YFC in 2019. We enjoyed an exciting 2018 as we gained new staff, added ministry sites, and increased our capacity to reach lost youth with the love of Christ. Yet this growth means nothing if we do not steward all resources to exalt the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 10:31 captures this vision, “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (emphasis added).

We want to take this seriously.

First, we have developed a 5-Year Strategic Plan that unites our organization with a single, clear goal: reaching 1,000 local young people through authentic, Christ-sharing relationships. We are currently at approximately 200.

Secondly, we are identifying goals, objectives, and critical tasks for our various outreaches—City Life, Campus Life, Juvenile Justice Ministry—to work towards the overarching goal.


Lastly, we are creating accountability to learn from one another, distinguish best practices, and challenge our team towards ministry excellence.

The bottom line is that we are establishing a “scorecard.” What does “winning” look like in the ministry of Youth for Christ? With this clear vision in view, our team knows how to lead and steward all responsibilities for the glory of God.

Most importantly, as we emphasize this need for excellence, we recognize the need for God’s grace amidst this pursuit. Our “excellence” does not make us worthy of God. It’s His excellence that rescues us from our sin and makes our mission possible. Our vision is only “excellent” as we respond to the goodness of His love and grace.

Our focus will not waver from this in 2019. His excellence ignites the fire behind ministry excellence.

YFC Awarded Grant to Serve Highest-Risk Youth

Stateline Youth for Christ is proud to announce it has received a $15,000 grant for Juvenile Justice Ministry Aftercare Services. The grant was awarded by the Dr. Louis & Violet Rubin Fund of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois’ Community Grants Program.


Juvenile Justice Ministry Aftercare Services helps juvenile offenders develop a new way of living and bridges the gap between well-intended plans during lock-up and real life application. Through mentoring, educational success tracks, and life skills training, high-risk youth will re-engage with educational and career goals and become productive members of our community.

Haddon Anderson, Executive Director of Stateline Youth for Christ, said, “Reaching our highest-risk youth is a clear need in our community, and we believe it’s time to be proactive. This well-rounded program intentionally seeks to walk alongside youth upon reentry, combating against recidivism and empowering youth with hope and brighter futures.” 


Stateline Youth for Christ seeks to empower disadvantaged teens spiritually, socially, and emotionally through creative programs and healthy relationships with adult mentors. Its outreach has recently grown to now include seven sites in the community—City Life (in partnership with the YMCA), Campus Life (in partnership with five local schools), and Juvenile Justice Ministry.

The mission of the Community Foundation of Northern Illinois is to serve as a catalyst for giving in order to attract, preserve, and grow an endowment for current and future needs of Northern Illinois. Since its founding in 1953 CFNIL has granted more than $71 million for charitable purposes. Learn more about CFNIL’s grantmaking and commitment to endowment at

The Meaning of Campus Life


In all of our ministries, we value going to where young people are—schools, the YMCA, the juvenile detention center.

This is at the heart of YFC’s mission as we seek to engage lost 11-19 year olds in Christ-centered, mentoring relationships.

One of our staff members, Dan Sears, recently described our approach in such a helpful manner, connecting what we do to what God has done for us. Here are his words:

“Where are you?”

This is the first question God asked mankind in the Bible. Of course, God knew exactly where Adam and Eve were. And He came down to them. He seeks us out much the same way, right where we are. No matter the circumstances. Jesus has over 40 such encounters with people in the Gospels, with few being in a religious setting. Most are at homes and in the workplace. And so, we feel called to meet students right where they are. On their turf.

This is Campus Life.

Key Takeaways from YFC Regional Leadership Conference

Our team at YFC just enjoyed a life-giving, insightful weekend together at the Youth for Christ Regional Leadership Conference. Here are a few key takeaways:

1. Interdependency: The distinct theme of not only the conference, but also the organization’s direction is interdependency. This idea was unpacked throughout the weekend, centering on our need as leaders to be dependent on Christ and one another. John 17 captures this, as our oneness truly has power. We will not bear fruit isolated from an interdependent relational focus on Christ and others.

2. Casting a Big Vision: YFC National desires to one day reach 1,000,000 young people through authentic, Christ-sharing relationships. Currently, the organization is reaching less than 100,000. This vision will not happen overnight. But why cast a small vision when there is overwhelming need? More importantly, why cast a small vision when we have a huge God? Through interdependency on Christ and one another, we believe a big vision should be cast across the entire YFC movement. Our chapter is thrilled to be a player in this.


3. Fun: We took 11 local leaders to the conference, and we had a blast. Two six-hour van rides, time in the hotel, eating out, and soaking up the conference created more meaningful bonds among our leaders. The unity of our team has been strengthened, and it largely happened through having fun together. One simple way to create interdependency with others is to simply have fun and laugh together. We did plenty of this!

These few days strengthened and equipped us for ministry in Rockford. We now take practical steps to develop as leaders. Please be praying for us!