“You are loved” A message for Schools and Juvenile Facilities
On the second day, speaking at Juvenile Justice Centers in Florida, God placed a special message on my heart that seemed far beyond my comfort. And of all places, it was during the closing of the message shared with the most difficult group of the two weeks.

It was the first detention center where they are evaluated for two weeks before sent to the long term facility. It was Leon County Detention Center in Tallahassee. The boys were big, angry, and still in shock that they had got caught. It was only the fourth facility and we were feeling our way through each presentation when God placed three specific words on my heart, “You are loved.” Not only were the words to be spoken, I knew I was supposed to walk in front of each individual, extend my hand and look them in the eyes when they heard those words, “You are Loved.” I did not realize until later I was extending my hand to allow them to make a choice to accept or reject the investment. It wasn’t about me, but those who would come after me whose only desire is to impact the lives of so many seeking hope and love. As I made my way down the first row it became more difficult to say the words because of the tears that were falling down my cheeks. This was the last thing these tough guys wanted to see… a grown man crying.  But I was moved and could not contain myself. I continued down each row and added a second phrase, “Never give up.”  One boy rejected my handshake but by the end, I’m not sure anyone did.  When leaving the room that afternoon, I was crying a bit too much as it became embarrassing to me.  But as I walked by the last boy, in the last chair, next to the door, he saw my tears, leaned up in his seat, looked me in the eyes as I walked by and said, “Hey, don’t cry. It’ll be alright.” I will never forget this moment as this young kid sat in distress, confused by the unknown yet willing to give back what I had demonstrated.  For anyone who believes someone can’t change, I challenge you to spend time with those who are lost, look deep within their eyes and see the potential within their soul.

Far too many have never heard the words, “You are loved”, “I love you”, “I’m proud of you” and I am beginning to see how such a simple phrase can be the start of something very powerful. This has become the start of something very powerful and though I am rejected from time to time, the seeds are planted for the next individual who will offer to invest in their life.  We are so blessed to encourage troubled youth and their families. I am absolutely confident that this is only the beginning of what I see as so much bigger than ourselves. We shared the same message in the most recent school assemblies and it was powerful. Thank You, God!

Upward Bound Outreach founder and director, Jeff Moody, is on a mission to make a difference one life at a time. His passion and enthusiasm has inspired thousands of audiences throughout the country and his inspirational messages have challenged students to overcome obstacles, creatively solve problems, and perform successfully at school, at work, and at home. Issues that – with the right attitude and desire – can be dealt with successfully.