I rubbed my hands together in a futile attempt to keep warm as the mercury dipped well below freezing on a cold Tuesday night in February. Deven and I stood restlessly in a line of eager fans that stretched for over a block along 19th Street in downtown Denver as we waited for what seemed like eternity to get into a sold-out concert at Summit Music Hall. A friend of ours had offered us free tickets to the show, which included one of my long-time favorite hardcore bands, so I couldn’t resist taking him up on the offer.
As Deven and I stood in line, I asked him how he was handling the difficult transition from prison to life on his own. It has been nearly six months since he was released, and it has been quite a pleasure watching him grow and mature in little ways during the course of that time.
Deven shared his struggles and the conflicts that he had been facing as he has been growing to understand life outside of prison walls. After nearly an hour, we were finally admitted into the venue. We eagerly dipped inside in search of warmth as the first band began playing. We pushed our way through hundreds of people in the crowd, gradually edging our way towards the front of the stage as sound waves pulsed through the crowd. I caught glimpses of unrestrained excitement in Deven as I glanced between bobbing heads and two-stepping fans – it was easy to tell that he was already having a great time.
Over the course of the night, between adrenaline-filled sessions in the mosh pit and lofty views from the balcony, Deven and I grew a little closer as friends. I have come to truly enjoy the ministry that I am a part of, and though I may only “work” from nine to five during the week, I have discovered that positively impacting the youth that we work with involves more than simply showing up. It requires that we live our lives alongside the kids that we serve, and to create deeply meaningful relationships in which we can have a greater impact than we ever thought possible. I have come to know Deven and many others on a much deeper level by choosing to share life with them in whatever ways I can — whether it be inside the walls of Sox Place or on the streets. Whether it be playing video games, shooting a game of pool, skateboarding, or enjoying a concert, we can positively influence the lives of our kids as we live alongside them and enjoy life together.