“I gotta thank you for keeping me off the streets all them summers… I don’t know where I’d be without ya’ll. Thanks for giving me a childhood. As I get older I realize how much God was with me cause a lot of kids I came up with didn’t get that. I owe you a lot, ya’ll are real people. They tried to put me in the system [jail] and you were there also. I couldn’t stand it but it helped me, too… helped me to know this ain’t for me.”
This was a recent text from a young man who was active in our ministry as a child and teenager. This young man was one of my core kids for a long time. We poured a lot into him in terms of time, opportunity and relationship. But it seemed like he just didn’t get it. I felt about him that his life was so hard that no matter what we did he just couldn’t believe that God cared about him personally, that he was precious and valuable to Him. But we kept trying. Eventually he grew to adulthood and and passed out of our influence. Out of this particular small group of young people that I worked with most of them have spent time in jail, been involved with drugs, gangs, etc… some have been killed. But only two of them at this point in time have lives which are self affirming, and he is one of them. It truly is a work of God. This young man should be dead, or addicted to drugs or in jail for an extended period of time, but he’s not. He is married, raising a family in his own home and working. And has an active faith. Praise God!
“I gotta thank you for keeping me off the streets all them summers…”
Summer is a crucial time for our young people. It can be the season for outdoor fun, barbecues, vacations, a much needed break from school…, but it’s also a season for trepidation and heightened awareness for many of our youth. Because in the summer people are out in the neighborhood at all hours of the day and night, and depending on where you live you have to be vigilant of where you are and who you are with always because violence can erupt when you least expect it. The young man who wrote this text spent a whole summer in jail when he was seventeen; accused of a crime he did not commit. I thought it would ruin him forever. His teacher thought maybe it saved his life, cause he was running with a bad crowd. He’s certainly living a much better life than his peers now. He has a life. The simplicity of this statement belies the gravity of its meaning.
“Thanks for giving me a childhood.”
Summertime for us is the time of camp. For our youth that means escaping harsh realities of inner city life and just being a kid, for a little while. For us it means instilling Christian values of faith, love and hope manifest in a relationship with Jesus Christ who will sustain you no matter what circumstances you may find yourself in. It means life…, it means peace…, it means hope. We offer two camping experiences for up to thirty youth in the summer. It costs us $300 per person. Please consider sending us a one time gift beyond your usual giving to help send our kids to camp this summer, to help give them a childhood. Thanks for your support of this ministry!