Friday, July 13, 2007
I've been putting this post off for a while because I'm not sure where to begin and what to tell you about our time here at Camp Grace this summer.
It honestly has been a humbling and life-changing experience spending a month with these kids. First of all, let me give you a little background on what Camp Grace is. Four years ago, it began with a day camp which bussed inner city kids out of Atlanta each day -- now it's an overnight camp in Cleveland, GA where kids from the poorest areas of the city come for a week to play basketball, volleyball, swim, fish, hike, cook, do arts and crafts, play lots of fun games and learn a lot about the Lord. Basically, the goals of the camp are to love the kids, introduce them to the ideas of Christianity and the person of Christ, and to offer them a joyful and exciting break from the poverty, crime and other stresses they experience on a continual basis in their day-to-day life. Throughout the year, Vision Atlanta raises money so that the kids only pay $30 for a week of camp. Groups like Kellar Williams, and individuals from churches etc (like my parents) sponsor the other $360 dollars it takes to send them here for the week.
Most of the kids who come bring only one or two changes of clothes. Some dont have toothpaste, soap or bedding. Many of them exhibit a hardness when they first get there that tends to wear down over the course of the week. Those who fight the hardest and curse the most tend to be the ones most heartbroken to leave. I wish I could do a better job describing how precious it is to be a part of that moment when they grin and run into a hug, especially when earlier in the week they are determined to be tough and prove that they dont need anyone . . .
These kids have stories that will make you cringe, stories of ministry leaders shaking roaches off their clothing to pack them for camp, of entire cabins of girls not knowing who their fathers are, of gang activity and daily violence . . . their stories break my heart, and cause me to examine my faith. If I proclaim to be a Christian, yet do not serve and love the forgotten (the "least of these") then what will have to say for myself when i stand before my Savior one day? If I take what the Bible says seriously, than I cannot know about what these kids are facing and do nothing to help them . . .
So now I am back at home, in my three bedroom house with two cars, a puppy, lots of clothes and friends . . . and it becomes easier to ignore the poverty and violence than to make the effort to go serve - especially because serving now means getting out of my comfortable chair in my cozy home and going into a world that's dangerous and unknown . . . but I cannot allow myself not to go because I cannot help but think that the dangerous, unknown world of these kids is exactly where Jesus would be.
You can see the rest of my pictures from our time at Camp Grace