For most College Getaway Weekend is a time to get away from the reality of school. But for our youth it was more. It was a time to get away from the realities of their lives. A time to be themselves.

The streets aren’t gracious. Nothing is stable. Everything is changing. What is good? There is fear in having good happen, for it tends to just get ripped away. Drugs aren’t just something to do, they are a way to cope with everything that has ever hurt them. Sex is a way to feel security. What is true love? They are constantly looked down on and forced by society to take on identities that should never be pressed on them. “Homeless,” “begger,” “thief,” “outcast,” “law breaker,” “trouble,” and “worthless.”

So often it is these pretenses that so easily entangle them.

These identities are false. Our youth are some of the most loving, generous, gracious people I know. When given an opportunity to be themselves and not have these identities pressed upon them, it is a beautiful sight. Whether they know it or not, they are beautiful children of God.

The raw fact is that a bed might be the real reason why they came to camp. A time to have three meals a day. A time to get away. A time to feel safe. A time to not worry. It is through these spaces that the Lord works. Seeds were planted at camp. We know that these seeds might be small but over time they have the opportunity to grow. We might not see the fruit of these seeds today or tomorrow or even years from today but someday we will. I could see wheels turning in each one of our youth’s lives. As I sat back I was reminded of the fact that the Lord is going to do his work with or without us, and sometimes we’ve just got to get out of his way and allow him to do his thing.

Here is some more reality. Our youth knew what they would be coming home to the whole time. For some, thinking about what bridge they were going to sleep under was reality. Thoughts of having to be around intoxicating people to be able to survive is reality. It’s not fair. The reality is hard and reminds me of how fallen our world is.

But within this there is a bigger reality that I was reminded of by one of our youth as we were walking to get into a car to go home. Looking at me he said something that will never be forgotten:

Last night when all camp was quiet, for the first time in my life I felt a sense of peace. I have done all sorts of drugs, but I have never felt like I did during that time. I know I am going home to bad things but I deep down know I will be okay.

Sometimes it takes getting away to be able to see clearly for the first time.

The true reality is that God is bigger. He calls our youth beloved. His sons and daughters. Love is true here. They are not forgotten. No matter how dark the world my seem, there is light. There is HOPE!

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy spirit you may abound in hope. -Romans 15:13

~ JJ Halemeier, Director of Human Resources

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