Boys Behind Bars–A Teen’s Heart, by Ed Spencer

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The Golden Key to a Teen Boys Heart:

Whether it’s a teen boy behind bars, a teen from a normal family, a teen from a split home, a teen without a father, or even a teen in a cultural gang situation, the same key fits. That key is affirmation. Men were created with a desire to be affirmed and teens especially need that affirmation from everyone in their circle; but they especially need it  from other men. Sometimes that affirmation comes from negative sources that can lead a teen down a dark path. Teens really need and will thrive on  affirmation that comes from a positive source rather than a negative one. A teen will seek affirmation, and he will get it from one place or another.

Often in our society today we tend to react, condemn, criticize, and judge bad behavior, but we rarely seek out and give affirmation for good behavior and good attitudes. Good attitudes in teens often begins with a genuine compliment or word of affirmation. It puts them on a new and positive path.

When we begin communication with a teen behind bars, they are often down on themselves, depressed, and have lost all hope in their life. They can’t trust anyone for fear of more condemnation or criticism or rejection. All it takes is one little positive spark to ignite the hope left inside hidden behind that darkness, and that spark can lead to a positive relationship.

Through many years of mentoring, or using a preferable word, befriending, troubled teens, some in Juvenile detention and some in the state Penitentiaries , this seems to be the common denominator that reaches their heart. A kind word. A positive compliment. A word that gives them hope.

No, flattery does not work. A teen can see through that like a plate of glass. No, the positive word or word of affirmation, must be genuine and true. Even then, it takes time to build a relationship of trust. We know that God through the Holy Spirit can and does change hearts. He can change the heart of a boy behind bars and he can change the heart of a teen in your home. Through the power of prayer, careful thought out communication, positive affirmation, picking your battles, giving the control to God, and letting the Holy Spirit go work, in the heart of a teen, that heart can be changed.

I have seen that power at work first hand. Sometimes you can see immediate results and in others it takes years and even decades. Never quit, never give up, trust that God hears our prayer and He is in control. Your teen, our teens are our future. Pray for a revival for all of our teens and young adults.

Check out our web site at http:/ for stories from boys behind bars and their mentors. Read about relationship building and uncommon friends…When you begin a journey of helping teens or adult Christians behind bars, you will find that the experience enriches and blesses your life!

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