Sunday, August 1, 2010

A Letter from Camp.....Do YOU think even "tough kids" can change? .Sunday Faith Blog ...

MOST of my my Sunday Faith Blogs "write themselves." Nothing had come to me as of this morning, but I knew it would, and it sure did, in the form of the following email (in italics) which arrived Saturday afternoon, on the heels of my Walter Williams post down below about racism. (names have been changed at the request of my friend who emailed this):
Dear Friends, Thank you for your prayers for our kids at camp. The leaders could tell that people were praying for them! I wanted to get you some details on what kind of responses we had from the kids. One of our te
en moms, Vanessa (z: who is black), was brought to our Youth teen mom group by a teacher at Venice High who was very concerned about her being depressed. She was living with her "baby daddy's" parents at the time. They speak only Spanish and she speaks only English. Her leader, (Emma), said that she rarely laughed and was very withdrawn, but Vanessa was completely transformed at camp. She laughed more than she had for the whole 6 months she has been part of the group!! She tried every activity, even the scary ones like the ropes course and the climbing wall. She told Emma that she had never heard the Message before. She said she went from being "confused" about God to "curious". It was her birthday a few days ago and Emma brought her a Bible and she will continue to help her to understand what she heard.
The middle school kids all loved being at camp.
They were definitely not all "easy" kids for sure! They come from backgrounds of dysfunction and poverty. Some of the boys were going around "bullying" other kids. Chris (z: who is black), one of our leaders, had to put 4 of them in the van and start to take them home. These hard core type guys (z: from the inner city) began crying and said that they REALLY wanted to be at camp and after that they were better behaved. They had a blast and got into every activity. Several told their leaders that they would like a "face to face" relationship wit
h Christ. Their leaders are starting a new bible study for them this Tuesday, so continued prayers would be wonderful. Here is what one of their guy leaders wrote about their time together at camp:
"Stinky, sweat stained and tired, the 11 of us walked up a nasty hill after a fun mountain bike ride. After a while, I felt something tug the water bottle out of my hand, and thinking it was one of the boys trying to be funny, I turned around quickly to see our smallest guy holding a pile of water bottles as big as his chest. Without any prodding or anything, he had volunteered to carry our entire group's water bottles up the hill just because he felt like it. Little windows into how our savior works, and how he moves within us. Our week together was a fun one...we rock climbed, skate parked, pool basketballed and slap-boxed our way through six days together, and we all got to hear a great telling of the Gospel story at the same time. We sat in our cabins and talked about the resurrected Christ, and then we went out and played on the slip and slide for hours. The boys we had got to hear some truth about a God who loves them and cares for them, some of them for the very first time, and then they got to go out and spend a week just being kids. And as the other leaders and I got to just be kids with them, I'm pretty sure we smiled just as much as they did."
Middle school kids are figuring out which direction their lives will head and I know that God has planted a seed in these kids that will help them to choose the right path. Thanks for your prayers! Speaking of middle school kids, I had a wonderful meeting with a teacher at the Middle School in Watts. She wants to start a Youth group weekly club for the kids there. She told me that several of the Christian teachers meet weekly to pray over the school as it has many problems with gangs, guns, low achievement, etc. But in the midst of all trouble there are some pretty terrific kids as well. We just need some more volunteer mentors to work with them in order to start the club. Could I impose on your prayer muscles once again to be used on kids' behalf for this school? Again, thank you for prayers! I know the Lord heard and honored them. Signed....(Z's Friend)

Z: I highlighted in red the part that brought tears to my eyes. These kids were acting up,
angry, trying to do what they could do to shake things up until they were threatened with this joyful time being yanked from them and going back to what they know; then they CRIED to stay. These "hard core type guys" CRIED! And then they did so much better! Kids do WHAT THEY KNOW. These kids knew to MAKE TROUBLE, maybe even to react with belligerence when faced with true goodness? But, now they KNOW DIFFERENT! How many kids even KNOW the difference anymore?

This, to me, showed that children CAN do better if given love, hope, and encouragement....I believe God had a big part in this, too, and you can see that my friend does, too. I hope this encourages you to help a child, to think the best of them and let them know it, believe in them, let them live up to their potential. Please, God, let all children feel this, help us give them a chance no matter what color or creed. Amen.

Have a beautiful a child, especially a really tough one. Every life is precious.


Faith said...

Lovely story, thanks.

Always On Watch said...

I've worked with some kids from the inner city.

With few exceptions, they were tender-hearted toward the Lord and His Word.

Christian camps need to reach out to "at risk" kids. They are worth rescuing.

Elmers Brother said...

we all have to approach Christ with a child like faith

WomanHonorThyself said...

. Every life is precious...especially yours Ms. Z!..(hugs!)

Z said...

Isn't it wonderful how the caring of this Youth group brought these kids around?

I was excited to get this and publish it because we tend to think those kids are lost and they're NOT, not if they get the proper attention.

THIS can happen IN SCHOOLS, folks...And some great teachers are doing this and succeeding (Jaime Escalante and others like him)
Maybe if schools started buckling down and demanding the best and giving kids the TIME and ENCOURAGEMENT instead of just throwing money at their teachers, we COULD get ahead...we COULD have a generation of troubled kids improve.

Opus #6 said...

This is a huge thing. Middle school is a crucial time in the life of any person. And it is a time when outside adults/peers can have a profound effect, which can be helpful in cases where the home life is dysfunctional. May God bless the efforts of the people in this camp.

Anonymous said...

Z, this is a great story.

It impacts few children, but it's a start. It shows when someone cares enough, to teach not only about faith, but, that there is a price for misbehavior and they would be sent home if they didn't conform to the rules.

I call it tough love. Good can come from the lesson of having boundaries which cannot be crossed.

The problem as I see it, is that after camp is over, the kids go back to the streets, and peer pressure is powerful for kids who have no solid foundation at home.

There has to be some continuity between what they experience at camp and what they experience when camp is over.

I think the bible study program and youth group is the best idea to come out of this. In this way, the kids can continue that positive connection they began at camp. If they can get parents involved, so much the better.

It's an uphill battle, but if these battles aren't waged, nothing will change. I pray they are successful, and that an effort like this can spread and take hold.

There are a lot of kids out there who need something meaningful to hold onto. God bless these good people who are trying to make a difference.


Karen Howes said...

Kids will live up or down expectations placed upon them.

If they don't have good role models who teach them right from wrong, and what's appropriate from what's not appropriate, then how can they be expected to know?

Thanks for sharing this, Z.

Z said...

thanks for your comments, everybody.

I think this shows a GLIMMER of what another life can be like and, I firmly FIRMLY believe that, with some kids, that's ALL it takes.

I am hoping some of the other commenters on my Williams piece below on racism pipe shows that kids of any color aren't always 'just bad'...that they cry, too, when their defenses are down; when they see someone could actually be HELPING them.

This has to continue in schools, like I suggested in my comment on the Williams piece....if teachers and principals believe in the kids, the kids get a whole other feeling about their future.

See STAND AND DELIVER, and FREEDOM WRITERS, two of the best films ever on this subject. Also, BOYZ IN THE HOOD isn't a bad adjunct to this.

Elmers Brother said...

absolutely Z, we need to buck the low expectations our culture asks from our young adults.

Law and Order Teacher said...

I think it's really instructive in your post that kids really want to be loved and respected. Most of our problems begin when those are absent. I would hope that teachers remember this when they contemplate their calling. Sadly, most don't.

JINGOIST said...

Z that's a wonderful and inspirational story!

GM Roper said...

One of those really rotten folk brought around by the love of God was me. Thanks for posting this Z

JINGOIST said...

Me too GM. I was a lost pup.

Z said...

GM and Jingo Juvi delinquents?
I can't picture it...two of the greatest guys going.

OKAY: What turned you around?

JINGOIST said...

What brought me around?
The military, my dad, a bad marriage, custody of my daughter, being broke while starting up my own business, listening to Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura for a few years while working to make my business a success. Dr. Laura and Rush brought me to G-d.

Z, there were times when heartfelt prayer and the love of my little girl were the only things that kept me going. I've seen and done some pretty bad things, most were "sanctioned", what a thin veneer that can be.

As far as I know we get a chance to repent and make up for those things that we did. Treat people kindly, especially when they deserve it. Give to deserving charities--for me that;s mostly the military charities like Wounded Warriors and Freedom Alliance. The Rodehever Boy's Ranch is also great.

We can never know for sure, but I hope that good deeds--and earnest prayer--works for redemption in the final analysis.
I didn't mean to rain on the parade.

Z said...

Jingo, your story touches me... you know I've always been one of your biggest fans.
We all (ALL) did bad stuff in our lives, at least MOST of us people touched with that darned "HUMAN" gene have!
I'm not going to get into my beliefs about repentance here cuz you'll go crosseyed with "THAT CHRISTIAN THING" :-)(and you're always so respectful, by the way!) but I think prayer goes a LONG WAY .....
Dr Laura can really knock some sense into us, can't she..IF we are open to it.
I know several quasi-lib friends who completely changed politically from listening to Dennis Prager.

Z said...

and you NEVER rain on any parade around HERE!

JINGOIST said...

Thanks Z. You've picked me up again. For the record, I'm one of your bigest fans too. :-)
It must be that "human gene."

Z said...

thanks, Jingo. I was telling a friend today that it's amazing what really good people are on the 'net...and how we can really get to know their characters after reading their posts and/or comments for over 5 years, a kind of really knowing the person through the values they discuss, know? .....It's a nice feeling.