I’m Going to Camp!

Annually, 3.6 million cases of child abuse, neglect or abandonment are reported in America. One of these victims dies every six hours due to that abuse.

Fifteen years ago when we started attending our church, our eyes began to open to the foster care crisis in America.  Much of  this stemmed from families we have met that have taken in kids as their own and also our church’s involvement with Royal Family Kids Camp, a camp which purposes to give abused and neglected kids who are currently in foster care one week of their lives. A week with positive experiences in a Christian environment.

Until a few years ago, I believed that religion that is pure and faultless is to look after orphans in their distress, but my belief was nestled tightly in a box.  The box was the adoption box.  What I falsely believed in the depth of my heart was that if I was going to do it right… it had to be done a certain way. That if I was really going to believe what those words meant, it meant only one thing… that we had to adopt.

What I’ve learned since then is looking after the fatherless and the motherless can look a lot of different ways.  I never thought our family was called to adopt until a couple of years ago when Steve went to this camp.  For the first time, I questioned those thoughts and now my perspective has changed. While we still don’t feel called to adopt, what has changed is our willingness to do so and to become more involved in the solution regardless of the outcome.

Steve came back changed and therefore we changed. He has always been a great dad for our kids, but when Steve came home from camp, he came home zealous for other kids and also for finding ways to help dads be good dads.

Part of this change for our family has been a result of our relationship with one of Steve’s original campers.  As a mentor to this young man, Steve has been able to bring him around our home and in doing so, he has become family.  Not in the living with us kind of way, but in our love and affection for him. When he is with us, he is family.  And when he goes, our hearts bleed for him.  You see this boy, is just like my boys.  He loves adventure, he loves sports, he plays legos and loves to eat.  He is kind, he is loving and you would never know that every day he goes home, he wonders how long he will be there for. He wonders when he will get to live with his mom again and if he will see his dad again.  He wonders where he will go to middle school because the future is uncertain for him.

This year I am going to camp.

From July 7-11, I’m going to be a counselor to two little girls and my goal is to love them and let them have fun for one week. We will celebrate their birthdays no matter when their actual birthday is and we will celebrate any other milestones that come up during the week.

I am desperately hoping for laughter, joy and adventure. Mostly I’m praying they will leave believing they have value, hearing they are more precious than they realize and they have hope for their future.

Many of my good friends have gone before me to camp. They say I will never be the same. They say it is the hardest week of your life, but also the best week of your life.

Now that it’s one week away, my heart is filling with anticipation and fear.

Would you mind partnering with me?  Would you send me with YOUR prayers? Will you start now by praying for my girls {and the other campers too}.  Pray I will love them well. Pray I will be patient.  Pray I will have strength.  And pray I’m not a hot mess of tears all week long.  Lastly, pray for my boys and Steve who will be home. Pray for our boy at camp who graduates this year. This will be his last year at camp and I’m praying it will be his best. Pray the God of the impossible will do more than we can ask or imagine for him and for all the other campers too.

If you’d like to donate to Royal Family Kids Camp through King’s Harbor Church, your donation helps send kids to camp, provides their lodging, food, goes towards all the fun activities and gifts they will be sent home with.  You can make a donation here or send a check made out to King’s Harbor Church to me or to KHC Administrative offices with “Suzie Lind/RFKC” in the memo.

 

Caring for Orphans

James 1:27:

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.

Several friends of mine as well as family have enjoyed the privilege of adopting kids.  From nations in Africa, Asia, Eastern Europe, Haiti, Georgia and even here through the Los Angeles Foster System.

There is an anticipation like no other as they wait, holding their breath until a judge finalizes the adoption or a dossier is stamped with approval.  Faith is grown as families raise the necessary funds to bring their kids home from far away countries.  Trust is built as parents learn before they even hold their children that they are not their own and that God the Father is holding them, watching them caring for them as they wait in an orphanage or foster home. There is also the heart ache of losing a child that you have loved and cared for over the first year of his life.

Adoption rates and awareness seem to be increasing as more and more people are recognizing and living out the truth that to be pro-life means a lot more than being against abortion.  There is a responsibility we have to not only keep life and save lives but to sustain life by nourishing souls, bodies, minds and hearts.

While not all of us are called to adopt, according to the passage above, we are called to care and look after orphans and widows in their distress.  There are so many ways we can care for orphans now through wonderful organizations such as Compassion International, World Vision, Child Hope International.  We can also support families we know who have adopted through prayer, giving, baby showers, child care, etc.

As any parent knows, raising a child is much more fruitful with the help and support of a community.  The same goes for adoption.  Our family has not been led to adopt thus far, but we are committed to supporting those who have as well as doing what we can to care for orphans now.

Today, the opportunity comes as our church welcomes home a team of people who have given themselves to serve children in the LA County Foster Care system for one week through Royal Family Kids Camp.  One week of saying “yes” to kids who rarely get opportunities to have the kind of fun they had at camp this week.  One week of doing whatever it takes to send a message to a child that they are loved… wanted… planned for with a hope that springs eternal.  One week of being the hands, feet and heart of Jesus who happens to think they should not be hindered because the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to them.   As they load the buses to come home they will be worn out. Sad. Emptied. And the kids will return to their foster homes a little more full but sad that every day can’t be the way it was at camp.  They will leave with a greater longing in their heart for a place to call home.  But hopefully some of them will leave knowing their home is in Jesus.

Will you join me in praying for them? 

Let us pray that God will continue to give us all unique opportunities and show us how to care for orphans and widows in their distress?