The first time stepping into Metro Regional Youth Detention Center was intimidating. The layers of barbed wire, the tall fences, the double gates, and the metal detector operated by a stern-faced security guard were the welcome mat. As prison chaplains through Emory's Candler School of Theology, what we found in this place forgotten by society surprised us all.
We encountered inmates...no, children and youth really...with hopes and frustrations, dreams and failures, joys and challenges like the “rest of us.” But what does Metro RYDC have to do with the season of Advent and, even further, acts of generous service? Like the season of Advent, Metro is defined by waiting. Each week, the youth ask us to pray for their upcoming court dates and the accompanying hope of leaving prison. Each day is an exercise in patiently waiting with the hope of future freedom. In the weekly support group, we witness youth share their heartbreaking stories to create a community of honest support and vulnerable solidarity. They respond with words of encouragement and care, offering one another emotional, mental, and spiritual healing.
During this season of Advent, may we remember the many ways this season of anxious waiting affects many in our society. May we remember Christ’s call to come alongside the “least of these” and embody generosity in our words and actions. We follow Christ’s call not for our own personal gratification but for a reminder of what Christ looks like: Christ is vulnerable, honest, and loving on the edges of society.
May Advent draw us closer to the edges so we may draw closer to Christ.
Assistant Youth Director
Through the annual Alternative Giving Catalog, we are given the opportunity to extend generosity to those in our community and even around the world that are "on the edges". A tangible way to practice generosity this season is to consider a gift to one or a few of these organizations:
Intown Food Pantry
Branan Towers Senior Living
Children’s Education in Zimbabwe, Honduras and Cambodia
UMCOR Hurricane Relief for US and Caribbean
UMCOR Rohingya Refugee Crisis
Support UMC Churches and Pastors in Cuba
Refugee Support through IRC
UMCOR Solar Oven Partners
Browse the catalog here.