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.

 

Let’s Talk about Sex

It’s been three days since we’ve been home from The Idea Camp and my head is finally coming up from the water. In our two days in Vegas, I came away with so much more than I thought I would. In fact, the way the conference is set up lends itself to a much more interpersonal and in-depth learning environment than many other conferences. I was going through my notes to try to summarize for you all that I have, but it’s just too much! What I did find is that I jotted down a lot of quotes, so I will leave them for you. Forgive me for not knowing who said some of these things. But I know the people who made these statements all have a heart for Jesus’ truth and love to reclaim all that has gone wrong in this world as it relates to human sexuality. So here it goes:

On Sex and the Marriage Bed (all by Angus Nelson):

It’s important to talk about sex with your spouse and diffuse any unrealistic expectations.”

“We make relationships about us. The reason why the marriage bed is the heart of God is because it’s not about me.”

“What an exchange, if two people can serve each other in safety, love and selflessness.”

“Tell your man everything you respect about him and honor him. When you disrespect the man, you neuter the man.” (insert scissor motion here)

On Beauty for Ashes: Relational Healing for the Church (all by Dawn Carter):

“Dealt with is not the same as healing from.”

“The power of story: mirroring that which should have been as God intended.”

“Understand the role of your authority as a child of God in the Spiritual realm.”

From Charles Lee:

On implementing great ideas: “Friendship is not enough, you need the right people on the team.”

On sexual abuse and sin: “The Church has gotten good at confronting people, but not in walking with them.”

From David Trotter:

“If you are thinking about having an affair, keep in mind you will lose things you never knew you had.”

From Chris Clapp Logan and Ryan Russell:

“Things parents may not be aware of when their kids get on-line:

  1. They assume their kids are good and wont’ get into anything they shouldn’t
  2. Their kids are searching for love and affirmation
  3. Their kids have become callous to sex

“Know your kids friends online as you would off-line.” ~ Chris Clapp Logan

“True recovery is found in Luke 5 because sometimes it takes the power of God through community to bring about healing.” Nicole Wick

On Human Trafficking:

“Instead of being a temple builder, be a well digger.” ~ Mel McGowan

“The whole Church must participate, it takes the entire body of Christ.”

On Jesus and Justice (Bethany Hoang and Gary Haugen):

“At the end of the day, it’s about spiritual formation. The work of justice is given to us to shape us into becoming more like Jesus.”

“When you do the right thing, for the right reason, God has your back.”

“Prayer is the filter for our work, it shapes it and punctuates the day.” (regarding their 8:30 and 11am prayer times as a team)

On practical insight to discouragement in the work of justice (by Gary Haugen):

“Jesus asked us to be His disciples in fallen world. He doesn’t take us out of it, He leaves us in it.” Expect the world around you to be fallen… because it is.

“Spend time in prayer, do your work in community and be intentional about finding the joy.  Joy is the oxygen that makes obedience possible.”

On practical 1st steps to enter into the work of human trafficking (by Bethany Hoang):

“It really is one step at a time. Pick a target country or city. Focus your passion into that particular place. Have prayer time with a few others. Read a newsletter. Get close to the victims.”

On Restoring America’s Sex Trafficked Women by Annie Lobert:

“The world throws us away, the Church needs to love them through the pain, expecting them to fall.”

“Grace is more powerful than we realize.”

“90% of prostitutes are trafficked by a pimp.”

On Trafficking and Orphan Care:

“The church is the hope for the orphan crisis Every person has to play and every church has to engage in this crisis.” ~ Chris Marlow

On Sexual Orientation:

“The authenticity of friendship is that the outcome is secondary.” ~ Andrew Marin

“We have to pause and listen to the human story. We have to let love work its way through incarnation.” ~ Greg Russinger

Sexual orientation is not about an issue, it’s about people.” ~ Charles Lee

On sex and the family (Jud and Lori Wilhite):

“We are missionaries in a foreign world. Our hand is to the plow. We don’t expect our culture to think the same as us and yet we still engage and don’t separate ourselves from our culture.”

“Talking to your kids about sex is not a purity message, it’s a gospel message.”

On One in Six Women (Crystal Renaud):

According to Crystal’s research, 1 out of 6 women are consumers of the sex industry. This number is fast growing.  This ranges from erotica, films that are becoming more “relational” to attract women, and phone sex. Regarding the healing process, Crystal uses the acronym, “SCARS.”

  • Surrender – not just the behavior, but surrender your woundedness to Christ and to the process of recovery.
  • Confession – (James 5:15), Admitting the struggle
  • Accountability – Partnership on a daily basis. Know what your triggers are and tell someone.
  • Responsibility – Say you are sorry and repent to those you have hurt.
  • Sharing – God never wastes an experience we’ve had.

So there you have it… some snippets of what’s been swimming in my head all week-long. I pray it is encouraging, I pray that it will be useful as I continue to share it with those around me.

Dream Center

Shelly has been volunteering faithfully at the Dream Center in Los Angeles for about two years. She has served in their Adopt A Block Program, Food Truck Ministry and Prayer Ministry. More recently, she has been discipling a group of teen girls once a week and preaching in the food chapel before dinner.

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to follow her around while she did her thing for a few hours. The Dream Center is really an amazing place, I’ve never seen anything like it. Joel, one of the full-time staffers there gave me a mini tour along with the history of its development. Basically, God gave Pastor Matthew, a 20-year-old white dude from Arizona a vision to put a church in the Rampart District of Los Angeles, to serve and love the neighborhood around it.  That dream turned into a much larger ministry where now they reach over 40,000 people each month from low-income families, homeless individuals, at risk youth and those struggling with various addictions. The Dream Center provides basic necessities, discipleship and skill training in an effort to bring people to a place of self sufficiency. More recently, the DC has begun a ministry called Project Rescue which aims to bring back hope to those who have had theirs stolen through human trafficking.

I met some people with amazing testimonies yesterday. One woman, who is not much different from you and I was there with her three boys and husband. They lived a “normal” life until her husband got carried away with drugs and ended up losing everything. They came to the Dream Center where her husband was rehabilitated. They were housed and cared for there, he found a job through a volunteer and now they are saving up to get back out on their own.

A 60-year-old man who came to the DC 5 years ago, homeless and addicted to heroin and meth for 18 years was running the chapel after having completed a degree from their Bible institute.

One woman I met said something that has stayed with me. She said, at any point you could walk up to someone at the DC and ask them to tell you their story and they will tell you what God has done for them without holding back. I asked if they are taught how to give their testimony or something as part of the discipleship program and her response was:

It’s just a part of the culture.

She went on to quote Revelation 12:11.

“The overcame him with the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony.”

Yesterday, I was visibly reminded of how God sent Jesus so our broken lives would be restored.  But our restored lives  continue with a different purpose when we feel rehabilitated or recovered. Our broken lives have cracks that are not fully sealed, so the light of Jesus can shine through so others can see. It’s important to speak of this, share with others and give glory to God.

Today, Jon Acuff summed up the Gospel in four words.

Be sick, be loved.

The DC is a place where those with all kinds of sickness are brought back to wholeness as they are loved by Jesus through human hands.

Have you been to the Dream Center? How have you seen God through your own transformation or through the lives of those around you? Remember, people overcome the darkness of this world by the blood of the Lamb AND the word of YOUR testimony!

Do Something…But What?

Today’s message at church was intense. It started out with a word on discipleship from Dr. John Perkins who brings intensity without even trying. Then,Pastor Chris went on to preach Daniel 1.

The story of Daniel is about a man who resolved to stay obedient to God in the face of opposition.  He knew himself well enough to know that it would be the food offered to him that would cause him to succumb to the indoctrination that was taking place during the time of captivity. He could handle the literature, he could handle the new language and he didn’t mind if someone called him a different name. But the food would cause him to cozy up to the ways of the Chaldeans and turn his heart towards the things of the world and away from the God he served.

Chris spoke about taking a stand. Doing something is better than nothing. This came straight from the heart as he just returned from Israel and Royal Family Kids Camp walking through history and with people who are suffering and have suffered and the hand of the world’s systems. Following Christ and teaching others to follow Christ does not happen without taking a stand for those in captivity. It does not come without a cost for freedom. Do something, is better than doing nothing at all.(Luke 4)

I often wonder what it is God would have me do.

There are so many things to take a stand against.

Murdering innocent babies

The poor

The homeless

Human trafficking

Slavery

Abused and abandoned children at risk

Mistreated and marginalized elderly

Mistreatment of the handicapped

The list goes on an on. Each person has to ask God, “Where should I serve?” “Where should I stand?”

My heart is broken for those who have become victims of human trafficking. As I learn more about it, the more outraged I’ve become. But not outraged enough. I’m not sure what “doing something” actually looks like. I’ve been told it’s not a good idea to walk into a massage parlor to ask questions because that could compromise the work of law enforcement who are attempting to do something. I could give money to an organization, but that’s not the kind of “something” I think I should do. I could start frequenting strip clubs and massage parlors in an attempt to build friendships with the girls but that isn’t conducive with my “mom schedule.” So what to do?

I want to talk about it more, but I don’t want to just talk about it. I want to write about it more, but I don’t want to just write about it. I want to help create awareness, but what good is knowledge without action?

When I watch videos like this, I struggle because I want to do something.

But what?

(Warning… this is very raw, but very real and powerful)

Cracks

There is a patch of concrete in our back yard that has cracks running through it. Since we’ve lived here, the cracks have deepened and from time to time, weeds will pop up through them.

We’ve sprayed chemicals to stop the growth through the crevasses. The weeds die and the space remains dormant but eventually, they grow back. I could pretend the cracks aren’t there and keep planting pretty things around them.

But even if you can’t see the cracks, I will always know they are there.

What we really need to do is demolish the damaged concrete and lay down something new.  We need to level the ground beneath the cracks and start all over.

Like broken concrete, it’s when we realize there are fractures in our lives that we come to a point of wanting to start over. When we realize we can no longer ignore the cracks and move forward in the condition we are in.  We can’t fill in the cracks. We can’t put something pretty around them so no one will notice. The fissures become unbearable. We no longer feel useful the way we are.

This is when we recognize our need for a Savior.

Then Jesus comes into our lives and we go to Church. We go to a place where people are supposed to love one another like He does so the new foundation we have just laid will grow stronger and more durable.

Eventually the land shifts and we begin to see cracks again.

Our cracks may be in different places, they may be in the same places. But this time we know where to go to have them repaired.

We know if we recognize we are broken, we can be restored.

The unfortunate thing is sometimes we church people are afraid of our cracks.  The ones in our marriages and families. The ones in our behavior towards our children. The ones in our conduct with people we work with. The ones in our attitudes towards and with the people we go to school with.  We think if they show, nothing will ever grow they way it was intended it to. So we hide. We pretend. We cover.

Enter religion.

I’m not sure who, at what point in history, decided we have to have all things in order to be in church. Surely it was before the pharisees time because they made a concerted effort to cover up their cracks. In the Old Testament,  Judah, son of Jacob conveniently forgot his own cracks as he stood accusing his daughter-in-law Tamar.  Throughout  the narrative, we witness the people of God getting lazy and forgetful and seeing their communities break down. The result was generations of people who reached for whatever was in front of them to fill in said cracks.

I love the Church. She is the very thing that Jesus has chosen to use to bring hope  and joy to a broken and lost world. She is meant to be preparing herself for His imminent return when she will no longer be chipped, broken and imperfect.  Upon His coming for her, she will become whole and complete, because of Him.

Until then, we will keep cracking but He will keep on restoring. Getting us ready.

Coming to Church shouldn’t make us more religious. Rather, it should help us discover the grace to restore the cracks in our lives. Let us be like those in the time of King Hezekiah, who showed up to worship and through their worship had their eyes opened to where the cracks were coming from.

Because in our worship, our cracks are revealed.

And once they are revealed, we can quickly run to the One who restores and tear down the things that break us.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise. ~ Psalm 51:17