Couple Faithfully Leads Youth Ministry for 35 Years

A Straight Ahead Ministries bible study at a local correctional facility in the United States. Source: Baptist News

For nearly 35 years, Hanne and Scott Larson have worked with incarcerated youth through Straight Ahead Ministries.

The ministry engages high risk incarcerated teens in Bible studies, job readiness and other re-entry programs designed to reduce recidivism and promote health outcomes.

During the 1980s, Scott was a stockbroker living in Minnesota when he began to feel God calling him into ministry. In response, Scott said, “I started spending my vacations smuggling Bibles into China and Russia. I just needed to do something different with my life.”

After taking some time to discern what a career in ministry might look like, Scott enrolled in Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in Boston, Massachusetts, where he was ordained as a Southern Baptist minister in 1985.

His wife, Hanne, was raised in the Evangelical Free Church in Denmark. The daughter of American missionaries, Hanne said, “I grew up in a home where my parents really modeled faith,” she said. “They really lived it. Growing up in a missionary family, I got to see at a very young age God coming through in supernatural ways. God was very real to me.”

A social worker by trade, Hanne started teaching bible study at the local juvenile detention center on the recommendation of her supervisor. “I was, literally, crying on the way there and telling God I was in way over my head and that this is not for me,” Hanne recalled.

Inspired by their mutual interest in youth ministry, Hanne and Scott launched Straight Ahead Ministries. Starting as a bible study at just one facility, the bible studies eventually spread to encompass several sites throughout Boston. Now, a network of churches, ministries and volunteers replicate the Larson’s model and are working to improve the lives of youth around the world.

“There are 1,200 juvenile detention facilities in the U.S., and two-thirds don’t have any ministry in them,” Scott said. “We are working to get people like us, who didn’t even know these places existed, to go in and do this kind of ministry.”To help congregations connect with incarcerated, Hanne and Scott launched a website. Scott said, “We want to be a place where people can live out their callings.” The author of more than 13 books, the Larson’s ministry model continues to inspire future generations of evangelists interested in working with youth.

Source: Baptist News