Occasionally I will have an idea in my mind that I let percolate for quite some time before I put the words onto paper, or in this case, onto the internet. This particular story took place around three months ago and I have been meaning to write about it ever since.
As most of you know, I took my youth group to Texas to work at a camp for foster children back in August. It was a very challenging week, to say the least. You can read about some of the chaos in this post Texas Missions Trip – Day 6… ! It was a life-changing week for my students and I. We saw the hurt that is present in most of the kids at that camp. They came from a wide variety of backgrounds (financial, ethnic, religious, etc…) but they all had one thing in common: they came from broken families. Some of them came from a background of drugs, alcohol, and abuse, while others just came from a background of parents that didn’t want them.
Those kids were not foster kids; they are kids who are forced to live in the foster care system. It wasn’t anything they did, it wasn’t their choice, and they shouldn’t be looked down upon because of it. I developed a heart for those kids that week and I will never forget the relationships built and impact that was made in their lives. There was one thing that deeply moved me, and that is what I will be writing about today…
After the speaker finished his message during one of the final services of the week, each kid was to write down what they were thankful for as well as what they were afraid of on separate post-it-notes. After they were done, they were to take the post-it-note with their fears and stick it to a giant wooden cross that was in the front of the room. This signified that they were surrendering their fears to Jesus and leaving them at the Cross. Since all of these kids were between the ages of 9 and 12, they weren’t very tall, so I went up to help my campers stick their post-it-notes up high on the cross. After I got done helping some of my campers stick their fears on the cross, I went back to see the progress that one particular camper was making (I am not legally allowed to say his name) on his thankfulness and fears. The camp nurse was also helping him. He was saying things like, “I ain’t afraid of nothin’!” To this, to get him laughing, I said, “what about me? I’m way bigger than you are…and I have tattoo’s…you should be afraid of me!” He then leaned over to the nurse and said, “Yeah, that’s true…but I still ain’t afraid of him!” After this, I walked around to a few of my other campers to see their progress and when I came back, the nurse told me she needed to talk to me about something and pulled me into the kitchen…
As soon as we got out of sight of the campers, she started bawling and told me that she got that little boy to tell her what he was really afraid of. He told her that he was afraid of God and that God was punishing him! I saw her heart break right there in front of me for that little boy, and mine broke too. My heart broke because of the unfairness that these kids face everyday due to the poor decisions of their biological parents. As I mentioned earlier, it is not their (the kids) fault that they are in this living situation, but it is the cards that they have been dealt and they have no choice in the matter. It’s just sad to hear that they blame God and think that He is punishing them.
The nurse asked me to please talk to him and let him know that God is not punishing him and that He loves him! I gave her my word that I would and later that afternoon, I pulled the camper aside and did my best to talk to him. He wasn’t very willing to talk, but I know that Jesus’ words, spoken through me, got into his heart and his mind. I pray that they did and that he learns that God is the only person that can fill any void he has in his life!
The organization that we worked for (Arrow Child and Family Ministries) sent me a poster that contained some of the post-it-notes that the campers wrote. Some examples of what they wrote are as follows…
“Afraid of losing my brothers and sisters.”
“Hope to see you in next two months mom. I miss you! And hope you get better.”
“I want to go back home to my mom.”
“I want to go home with my real parents.”
“I want a new family who can love me more.”
“I want to be adopted.”
“My biological father abused my mom.”
These are just a few of the things that these kids wrote. Please pray for the camper I wrote about, as well as the millions of other children who have concerns like the ones listed above! Thank you!