On Mission in Mexico: Meet Philanesha

Meet Philanesha, better known as Phil Phil. She has been coming to Light of the Village since she was about 7 years old. She is now 17 and getting ready to graduate from Vigor High School in May! She plans to attend Faulkner State in the fall and live on campus in Bay Minette. After completing her first two years there, she will transfer to a university where she can study psychology. (We think she’d make a wonderful child psychologist, but we’re just sayin’!)

Phil has been involved in most every aspect of LOV at one time or another. It’s pretty impressive, really! During her 6th and 7th grade years, she was a student in the LOV Christian Academy. She has attended or worked EVERY Summer Bible Camp Light of the Village has ever hosted! That’s 10 years of Summer Bible Camps! Now, she stays connected throughout the school year as a TeenLeader, making candles to raise funds for this mission trip to Mexico, attending our Wednesday high school girls’ Bible study, and helping at the after school program.

Philanesha is the oldest of four, soon to be five, girls in her family! So she has lots of experience with babysitting! At Vigor, Phil had the opportunity to take cooking and drawing classes and through these classes found that she really enjoys both of these hobbies! As if her days weren’t full enough with volunteering at LOV and babysitting, she is also playing varsity softball for Vigor this year. Go Lady Wolves!

As with most of our team members, Phil has never been on a plane. (We are in for a real treat!) So naturally, she says she is most nervous about getting on a plane for the first time. The farthest Phil has ever traveled is to Atlanta, GA (by car, of course), and she is excited to go and see what Mexico looks like and to see the mountains. And we can’t say we blame her!

She asks that you pray specifically that she will be able to complete her assigned tasks and persevere in the hard work that is ahead of her in Mexico.

To hear all about Philanesha’s journey to Mexico, join us for A Night in the Light on March 5 at 6pm at the Fairgrounds! Reserve your seat here: http://nightinthelight2015.brownpapertickets.com/.

IMG_1868       Philanesha

Philanesha around age 7 or 8.                                                           Phil last year as a high school Junior.
Taken at LOV.                                                                                            Taken at LOV.    

Letter from a Volunteer

At LOV, we have a handful of dedicated volunteers who have been serving alongside us week in and week out for many years. Mrs. Barbara Barber is one of them. After our after school program Christmas party, she took a few moments to record what the Lord had revealed to her that day and shared those thoughts with us. The Lord blessed us through her words, and we would like to share them with you.

“I have several thoughts rumbling in my head, and I hope I can get them on paper in a fashion that you will see the awesome hand of God at work in and through you and the privilege He has entrusted to you with His work at Light of the Village.

God very clearly spoke to my heart and directed me on my first visit to LOV a few years ago. From that first visit, I saw the hand of God at work in the ministry. Each and every visit since that time I have asked God to give me a glimpse of what He is doing in the lives of the people involved with the ministry. And, without fail He has let me see a small part of the mighty work He is performing daily. Often what He shows me are not the big events but more than likely they are small things that might seem insignificant, except from God’s point of view.

During my Christmas visits, one thing I saw was a senior from Vigor High School in her basketball uniform. Not a big deal unless you were at the after school program on the day she walked in as a ninth grade student who wanted to play basketball but had no way to pay the fee or get a physical. There she stood, dressed in her uniform, one semester away from graduation.  I saw a young man about 8 years old running, playing, smiling and enjoying the safety of the after school program. Not a big  deal unless you saw him as a shy four year old who was so afraid that he could not sit down and participate with other children in an activity or game. I saw many, many older students and adults who show up because this is where they know they will receive unconditional love and hope.

On Tuesday,  December 16, I drove out to the village and brought a car load of presents. We unloaded the presents, and volunteers were busy making ready for the grand celebration of  a  birthday party for Jesus that would take place when the students were dismissed from school. Later in the afternoon I returned to help guide my friends who were bringing the horses for horse rides. By this time the LOV grounds were filled with volunteers bringing in pizza and lemonade, two large inflatables, crafts and games. As the Christmas music filled the entire neighborhood, students and parents followed the music right onto the campus. Soon a basketball game started, the inflatables were bouncing, pizza was being enjoyed and everyone was laughing, talking, singing and having a great time.  Parents and grandparents talked with us and thanked us for helping with such a wonderful celebration.

After a time of great fun Mr. John rang the bell, which everyone knows is the signal to come inside for devotional and prayer. Because I was helping get the horses loaded and on their way, I was late getting into the building for my favorite time which is the Jesus time. I especially love this time because it quickly becomes evident through the student interaction that God’s Holy Word and His instructions have been consistently taught to the students. When I arrived inside the building there was an overflow of parents and visitors that filled the kitchen hallway and overflowed onto the porch. When I realized that I could not hear Mr. John and the students, I asked Angela who was in the kitchen if I could come in the kitchen. She graciously said I could, and we opened the window to the school room where we could hear Mr. John telling the students about gifts and Jesus, our greatest gift. At the same time we were listening to Mr. John the people in the kitchen hallway were talking. As I heard their conservation, I remembered that on the afternoon news it was reported that little Hiawayi Robinson’s father had been arrested for her murder. In my right ear I could hear Mr. John speaking about Jesus and His gift of love to us, and in the left ear I could hear people who felt betrayed because they had walked with Hiawayi’s father searching for her. Their hurt, anger and unbelief rose in angry voices until Angela had to ask them to lower their voices but you could see the looks of betrayal on their faces. As  Mr. John finished and prayed for the children they filed out to get their gifts and head home.

It was not until I was in my car driving home that Holy God pulled back the veil and let me see a little of what He had done. On Tuesday, December 16, 2014 He knew that the Alabama Village would receive the news of Hiawayi Robinson’s  father’s arrest and would be in pain, so He decided that was the day He would select to hold a GRAND, FREE, BEAUTIFUL, JOYOUS celebration of His Son and invite all of us to enjoy Him.”

Barbara Barber, December 2014

If you have never been to see LOV for yourself, we would invite you to come and see what God is doing in the Alabama Village. Contact John Eads at (251) 680-4613 or Morgan Carnley at (334) 406-0221 to schedule a visit.

10848939_10152877174252180_4290541541663574008_o

Branson: In Over My Head

10499382_10152482652052180_2791091881798339242_o

This summer I had the opportunity to serve as an intern with the Light of the Village and to work specifically with Camp Hope in Prichard, Alabama. Going into this summer, I had no idea what to expect. I kept running all of the previous summer Bible camps I have attended through my mind trying to figure out some type of idea about how the camp would run from day to day. About two weeks before I was to report to training, I was still unprepared. I thought that since I have been through so many types of Bible camps that this would be a piece of cake. Throughout training week I became pretty nervous. I researched known facts about the city of Prichard and the people that lived there. What I found honestly scared me. For a second, I thought that I was in way over my head, and boy was I right.

I continued to pray every day leading up to the first day of camp, hoping and praying that God would give me the abilities to work with these children and be able to be the proper role model that they need in their lives. The first week of camp wasn’t so bad. But the first week is always the honeymoon week. By week two, I knew for sure I was way in over my head. I had never experienced kids like this before. Not that our kids were bad, but their environment is. Trying to get them to settle down and pay attention to the Bible lesson and to show respect was, at first, almost impossible. I knew the only way to get through to the kids was to first go through God.

There is no way I could have ever done this without the power of God. Throughout this summer God has taught me more than I have ever learned before, not only about how awesome and powerful He truly is, but also about how he can use anyone and everyone for the good of His overall, divine purpose. I was skeptical at first about my abilities to teach to Gospel to these teenage boys in a way that they could understand on a personal level. But then I quickly realized that it didn’t matter if I had those abilities or not because God gave me those abilities this summer. God used me as His light and as His messenger to these children so that they could hear the Gospel, but not just hear it but also be able to understand it on a personal level. So overall, was I in over my head? You better believe it! But it doesn’t matter. God put me here, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

So that was my camp experience, which was AWESOME! But, I should also mention the awesome people I got to meet while I was here. The night before training started we had a dinner for all of the interns from all three camp sites. Many of the interns already knew each other, but I was an outsider. Now, for those of you reading this that don’t know me, I am a very shy person by myself. I am never outgoing and find it very difficult to just jump into a room of complete strangers and start making friends. So it goes without saying that this dinner was very awkward for me. But two random guys, Bryan and Austin came up and introduced themselves to me and it turned out we all were to work at the same camp. These two guys immediately sparked conversation with me and made me feel welcome.

Throughout the week of training, I met the other interns from Camp Hope as well as the interns from the other camps. Each of these interns is unique in his or her own way. And that’s part of what makes them so awesome. Throughout the summer with dinner at each other’s houses and intern outings, I have become the best of friends with all of the interns, especially those from Camp Hope. In fact, I officially became a part of “Bubba” [Bryan, Branson (myself), and Austin = BBA]. This official term came into play around week two, and by then I knew I was already part of the family. And that’s how I feel when I’m with these guys. Not just Austin and Bryan, but with all of the interns. We were all there for each other in our ups and downs because it’s true; we are ALL family.

There are a few more people whom I have yet to mention, such as Mr. John and Mrs. Dolores who founded the Light of the Village. But I have to put a little emphasis on Camp Hope’s fearless leader, Morgan. I really don’t think that Camp Hope could have stayed afloat without her. She is by far the most awesome person out of all of us, and I owe her an enormous debt of gratitude. Through Morgan’s extravert personality, we as interns and staff grew a lot closer together. Morgan had everything down to a “T” throughout the whole summer. And even when things didn’t go according to plan, she was always able to improvise until she got things back on track. To be able to run a summer Bible camp in Prichard, Alabama takes an enormous amount of strength, dedication, and determination. Her love for these kids goes far beyond just wanting to teach them the Gospel. She really does care for these children and wants to see them excel in life, not just physically but also spiritually.

This post certainly turned out to be longer than I originally planned, but it’s all good! This summer was by far one of the best I have ever had. Not just because of the lifelong friends that I have made, but because of the things that God was able to do in me and through me. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a bitter sweet ending to the summer, but I’m already excited to come back next summer and jump right back in and see what else God has in store. And who knows, I might even have a tag along with me next summer!

John: I Believe

IMG_8146

As the leader of the teen boys, I have to say, my boys and I have had some interesting times together this summer: some really good and some really, really bad. From the frustrations in the gym to some really incredible Bible studies, nothing beats my main leader running to me with a smile on his face to tell me and everyone else that he got saved. To clarify, when I say main leader, that isn’t necessarily a good thing. Basically if he was bad one day, the rest followed. If he was good one day, the rest followed, mostly. 

I have to admit when he told me he got saved, I was caught off-guard and not sure if he was serious or if he’d gotten sound counsel. So I talked to him in the middle of glow games to follow up. Here we are in a pitch-black gym with glow sticks, black lights, people running around, and loud music blaring. But I managed to talk to him and see what he knew about salvation. Through talking to him, I was able to affirm that he was serious, and it was real to him. I could see that he caught it. This experience is the highlight of my entire summer. It made all the hard times, craziness, and exhaustion worth it. It’s like all of those things didn’t even happen once this kid told me he got saved.

I’ve been talking to the teen guys about leadership all summer. I’ve seen some step up, while others have told me they just want to be “regular.” A friend of mine always says, “Don’t talk about it. Be about it.” That saying has stuck with my guys, and while they don’t know everything about leadership, they know that good leaders follow Christ. They know that good leaders serve, and do not simply talk about service. And they also know that leaders are not perfect. Are all of them leaders? No. Do they all have the potential to be? You better believe it. In a community where they are told to get money, get girls, and act hard, I decided leadership is what they needed to hear about. So many people believe that our kids don’t have the potential to be leaders, but that is partially why they aren’t being leaders. If you ever have the opportunity to interact with our kids, first believe in them, then show them. I promise that if you show them that you believe in their potential, there is a better chance that they will see it. But as long as the generations before them tell them they can’t do something or they won’t amount to much, they are never going to believe they have potential. Never.

I believe in these children and students so that one day, they might believe in themselves. It took 6 weeks, but after pouring into him for 6 weeks and telling him he was a leader and believing it from week 1, it paid off. I look forward to the opportunity to disciple and mentor this kid in the coming years.

 

Brooke: You are Worthy. You are Loved.

10534539_10100527599184313_7231590128830738565_n

My youth pastor used to tell me “Your life may be the only Bible some people read!” This is something that I have kept in my mind this summer as I have been interning at Light of the Village. The past five weeks have been filled with hugging, getting my hair done at the “beauty salon,” dancing, giving piggy back rides, playing the Wii with the kids, laughing, pushing kids on the swings, singing, and most importantly seeing God move in our kids. 

 
I am the intern for the six and seven year olds, and I also teach the media rotation that all of the kids come to. I absolutely love doing Bible study with the six and seven year olds. They are at the age where they are so curious about everything, and they always are eager to learn new things during the Bible study. The first week of camp, we came up with movements for them to learn the Bible verse of the week which was Psalm 119:105 “Your Word is a lamp into my feet and a light into my path.” I challenged them all day to go home, memorize the verse, come back the next day, and recite it to me for a treat. The next day as soon as I got to camp, they ran up to me saying, “Miss Brooke, I know the Bible verse. Can I go first today?” Every single one of them knew their Bible verse, and I was so proud. 
 
One of my favorite parts of camp is assembly at the beginning of the day. Yes, it is chaotic, but the kids absolutely love it, and they get so excited over assembly.  We play a game, have a skit or a song, and then Mr. John comes and gives a message. We have a chant for everything we do! My favorite song is basically the anthem here at Light of the Village. I catch myself singing it ALL the time, even when I am not at camp. “J-E-S-U-S He is my everything. The J is for Jesus. The E is for eternity. The S is for salvation. And the rest is for US!” I promise you, the kids know every word to it. It makes my heart so happy to hear them all sing it! 
 
There is a program at LOV for some of the high school kids who have grown up coming to camp. They have the opportunity to become TeenLeaders. They are responsible for taking the kids to the different rotations through out the day, and they keep track of behavior. The kids truly love, respect, and listen to them. I have really enjoyed watching them step up as leaders and grow spiritually. It makes me so proud they chose to spend their summer serving Christ instead of getting caught up in all of the negative things that they are surrounded by. 
 
I think the reason I love it so much here is the love that everyone shares. I get to camp in the mornings, and I am immediately greeted with a hug and someone saying “Hey friend!” This isn’t just the case because it is Week 5; they have been doing this from day one. The kids don’t care what kind of car you drive, how much money you make, or even the color of your skin. All they want is your time and attention, and they will open their hearts to you. Unfortunately, many of our kids come from homes where they aren’t shown much love or attention, and in some cases even told they are unworthy of love and attention.  Here at Light of the Village we want them to learn they are worthy, and they are loved. Not only by us, but by Christ. In the midst of all the darkness in Alabama Village, there is a light, and it is right here at Light of the Village. 

Erin: How to Fill a Love Bank

Erin with her group

“Love bank” was a completely new term to me this summer; yet it was used so often. The first time I heard Dlo (aka Mrs. Dolores) mention filling a child’s love-bank I had this odd image of children walking around with big, pink piggy banks which each intern had a small amount of coins to fill. I pictured myself intentionally choosing how to deposit the few coins that I had into a select group of children’s love banks…. And then the thought was lost as I pondered how I, as the music teacher at Camp Faith, would ever think of activities 11-14 year old boys would enjoy in music class! 

This summer I prayed for many things: patience, energy, a better immune system.…But I never thought to pray for God to fill my own love bank. Thankfully, the Lord is a LOT smarter than me, and this was the first thing He did.

Looking back over my summer, it is amazing to see how God overflowed His love through me onto the kids. I felt as if I was watching Jesus feed the five thousand except it was my small heart reaching the mass amount of children at Camp Faith. As I poured my love bank out onto the kids, God was faithfully replenishing it with a ridiculous amount of coins.

This brings to mind one of my sweet 8-10 girls. This girl was so cute at first, but the cuteness ended real quick. She was the first to fight and the last to line up every time. Our line of girls would walk out of the room to their first rotation, and there she was in the corner with an M-fuger trying to put her shoes on her whining about some random concern. Normally this would drive me nuts. “Child,” I thought, “you are eight years old, and I know you can put your own shoes on and get in line like everybody else.” But I realized quickly that this child’s love bank was at an extreme deficit. I spent many moments with this girl patiently listening through the never-ending tears about why she got in trouble at the last activity or holding her in my lap as she whined about how her jeans were itchy because they had gotten wet at water day. These times I spent investing in her just made it so much more special when she would do things like pray for our class or perform a praise dance. God overwhelmed my heart with love for this sweet girl. She knew that it might not be true anywhere else, but at camp there would always be someone to hold her.

This summer I was blessed to have invested in so many different children. It was especially fun to see how God would fill my love bank with different types of love for different kids. The first day that I had the 11-14 year old boys in my music rotation one of them over-heard me express my concern for keeping the room under control with a volunteer that was helping me. He shared with his friends as they walked in that I was scared of them. I knew immediately that this would not turn out well if I didn’t prove that theory wrong. I quickly adapted a new skill that I never even knew I had. I like to call it my drill-sergeant mode. Soon, I had each one of those boys “catching a bubble in their mouths” (a technique we use to keep the 4 and 5 year olds quiet) and listening to the classroom rules. I thought they would hate me. But the next day they asked me in the hall if they were coming to music and were genuinely disappointed when I told them “not today.” Later they told me music was their favorite rotation, and I was in shock. Here I was struggling to find activities for these boys to enjoy and fearfully trying to maintain control of the classroom… and they loved being in my class. This was clearly the Lord.

I’ve had my struggles this summer, but I’ve learned that the Lord will always provide exactly what you need to get through each day…even if it is a drill-sergeant voice. I am so blessed by every moment I’ve gotten to enjoy at Camp Faith this summer. 

 

Bryan: I Need Them More Than They Need Me

IMG_1272

Over the past five weeks I have been realizing more and more that our kids at Camp Hope don’t need me as much as I need them. I am a very easy replacement. God could have chosen to bring someone else into their lives to speak the same exact truth to them. They don’t need me to understand the Gospel. If God wants them to understand, they will understand. He will lift the veil off of their eyes to see his beauty. I can’t do that. These kids need someone to love them when no one else will, but that could very easily be someone else too. I am willing to do all of these things, but it didn’t have to be me. 

So just a little background information on me leading up to camp: I had no intentions of working here. I got invited to join in, and I turned it down. Sure, I thought it’d be cool, and I had no problem doing it. But I was engaged at the time and working. And I was supposed to be working three jobs during the summer to save up some money. One full-time job and two part-time. I didn’t have time for another job. Towards the beginning of the summer, everything fell apart. All of a sudden, I had no fiance and no reason to work so much. So I quit everything. I had spent too much time doing what I had to do than on time for myself. I had spent too much time investing everything I had in a relationship and had no time for other people. Then I remembered about the offer to work with LOV and that the job would be to build relationships with people. I just wanted to be around people. It had been too long since I’d had that opportunity. So I called last minute, and they made room for me to start training the next day. 

My first week at camp was a pretty crazy one. The boys in my group were rude and rebelled against everything I said. This is kind of funny because at training we were talking about kids being rude, and I was completely honest and said “anytime someone is rude to me, I tend to think of that person as an enemy.“ I knew that this was an area I was going to struggle in. There were three fights within the first fifteen minutes of them walking through the doors. I had no idea what I was getting myself into. One kid in particular (we’ll just call him “Chad”) gave me the biggest problem. I couldn’t even look at him at some points because of everything he was doing. I didn’t know how to handle him or any of the kids. They were all pretty badly behaved. I started to pray about it that night after the first day and God broke me. My love for these kids was conditional. They had to show me love in order to earn it back. My thoughts throughout the day did not reflect the Gospel of Jesus Christ. God used these kids to show me how wrong I am.

I need kids like these so I can look them in the eyes when I am getting onto them for busting their chocolate milk boxes on each other or making fun of the girls and see a reflection of who I am. Apart from the grace of God, I am no different from who they are.  Apart from His grace I am rebellious, a hater of people, and a hater of God. “Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people; once you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (1 Peter2:10).  I was in need of love just as they are. I need kids like these to teach me to love unconditionally just as God has done and is doing for me. His Gospel is my motivation to love.

That was my first two days of camp. Since then I have seen more of why they act the way they do. “Chad” has several medical conditions and his parents have taught him to fight when other people look at him differently. He and many of the other kids don’t have a good father figure in their lives. These kids are in need of God, our Father, who loves them more than their earthly fathers ever will. Seeing all of that has allowed me to have so much more grace towards them. As I have been able to show love and grace to them over the past few weeks, their walls are coming down, and they are able to love back. 

Also since the beginning of camp, I’ve had to learn through these kids to speak. I’m a pretty quiet guy. I hate speaking in group settings. I hate attention. But part of the job is leading Bible studies for our group. I know that the Bible commands us to preach (Mark 16:15, Acts 10:42, Romans 10:14-15, 1Peter 2:9), but I would always come up with an excuse to get myself out of speaking up when there were “too many people around”. As I’ve been working with these kids, I’ve become pretty aware of this problem in my heart. It is because I have been taken from my darkness and put into light that I proclaim the excellencies of our God (1Peter 2:9). It is because of this Gospel that I give my body as a living sacrifice to preach of it and to worship (Romans 12:1). I shouldn’t have to be pleaded with to do it as Paul does in that verse. It should be an automatic response. But God has been patient with me and has been building up my confidence in who he is. God has a way of using our words in the lives of other people as a part of the salvation process. 1 Peter 1:23-25 says, “ You have been born again… through the living and abiding word of God… This word is the good news that was preached to you.” Also in Romans 10:17, “ Faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” I have reason to be confident. I can be confident in preaching the gospel because none of the words are of my own, but from the God who used those same words to awaken my soul. 

God has been doing all of this in me through our kids. That is why I need our kids more than they need me. I highly doubt that I’d be able to learn these things from anyone else. The kids can hear the Gospel and learn from any Christian that is willing to be obedient. God has been gracious enough to allow me to be that person and join in on what LOV is doing in Prichard. Praise God for changing my plans in life and forcing me to take the road that allowed me to have more of Him! He has been good through it all.

April: From Teacher to Student

10446521_10100520801417093_8982000102688392191_n
 
My name is April, and I’m new to this whole intern and summer camp thing. This is my first year serving with LOV and I have to say thus far the journey has been amazing! I am so blessed to be able to serve among and beside the people in which I am serving this summer. If you would have asked me several months ago how I would be spending my summer, working at a summer Bible camp in Alabama Village would probably have not been on my list anywhere, but I am so grateful God presented me with this opportunity. 
 
I went into this summer with the hopes of sharing Christ’s love, mercy, and grace, as well as teaching others how to share that same love that was freely shared with me. However, after the first two weeks of camp I have come to realize that I am actually the one who is learning. I am learning that it doesn’t matter to children what you look like, what kind of job you have, or how popular you are. Rather, it is your willingness to spend time with them that matters most. Whether it is pushing them on a swing, tossing a football back and forth, or simply playing a game of tag, I have realized that the little time we are able to spend with them means the world to them. It is also through these small acts of kindness that I am able to share the love of Christ just as it was shared with me several years ago. 
 
So do I know what the rest of the summer will bring my way? Absolutely not, but I can be in peace knowing that Christ is in control, and I am serving Him just where He wants me to be serving Him this summer. I’m excited about this summer, but most of all I am humbled by the privilege that I have been given to serve Christ in this community alongside an amazing group of people. 

Sarah Kate: They Call Me Big Mama

SK and Natalia

They call me Big Mama. The nickname started as a joke during training but has become a thing at camp. The campers (and even the TeeLeaders) didn’t quite understand at first. Eventually they simply accepted that it’s my name so they call me Big Mama. All. Day. Long.

“Big Mama, can you open this?”

“Big Mama, I need to use it!”

“Big Mama, how many cool pops do I get?”

At 5ft even I am neither considered big nor do I have any children to call me “Mama”.  So the name is just ironic enough to hilariously stick.

I think God shares my love of irony. He is known to send in the weakest link to win the battle, or the smallest kid to take down the giant with one stone. He put little kids on the throne to rule entire nations, spoke through the mouth of a donkey and became a human to save humans.

This is what Brian Zahnd calls “holy irony” in his book, Beauty Will Save the World. Zahnd writes, “…the holy irony perceived in the prophetic metaphors is that the monstrous beasts are conquered by a little slaughtered lamb.”

There is beauty in the irony of letting the little children come to Jesus. Any logically minded person would expect the King of All to let the important world leaders and very rich and famous come to Him first. Those are the people making headlines and changing the world right? Not in the eyes of Jesus. He lived out a truth that can be difficult to grasp:

All people matter.

The poor, the wealthy, the underdog, the champion, the infants, the elderly, the sinners and the saints. Jesus treated each person he encountered with value. I mean, He paid the ultimate price for all people, right?

So I, serving as one who is small and insignificant, see the holy irony in small children playing a big role in the kingdom of God. And I am honored to be a part of that irony.

I bless YHWH for the chance to live out His beautiful irony this summer at Camp Faith. May the kids see His love lavished everyday in ways great and small. May His kingdom be built on the truth that all people matter because he loves them with a great and fierce love.

 

Janie: Finding the One in the Midst of Chaos

10409731_10100507247409433_3527710497659184808_n

This summer will be my third Summer Bible Camp at Light of the Village. I have had the honor and the privilege of being on staff for over a year now and a volunteer for over three years. They have definitely been some of the wildest years but also the best years of my life thus far. This summer, I am working with the 8-10 year old girls. Half of my group I’ve had the privilege of spending many days with throughout the school year and the other half are fresh, beautiful faces.

A little over a month before summer camp started was one of the most eye opening and heartbreaking times in my life. In early May we lost a young boy named Romey. He was hit by a car while crossing the street on his bike. He was just a kid with a lot of life left to live. Although his death was heartbreaking for all of us at Light of the Village, it was his life that speaks to me the most.
Romey was a regular at our Summer Bible Camp for six years. He could light up an entire room with just one smile. But behind that smile was a boy with a lot of pain and sorrow. Last summer he was in our 11-14 year old boys group, and during the summer one of the interns and Mr. John had the opportunity to ask Romey who Jesus really was to him. His response was, “He’s my daddy, and He’s my savior.” What a statement! The beauty behind this story and the reason I share it is simply this: God has created a lighthouse in one of the darkest places. In a neighborhood full of drugs, violence, and tragedy, God’s light is shining through the darkness. Romey’s life has taught me so much in my own walk with the Lord and how I view my time with my group of girls. His life has taught me the importance of not just taking the time but finding the time in our busy schedule to truly share God’s love and His word with the kids. Sometimes finding that moment or that opportunity with a kid can be challenging but it is the most important thing that we will do this summer. It’s easy to get lost in the big picture and miss the little treasures that are in front of us. Each life is so precious in God’s eyes and so is every minute that we have with the kids. Just one moment can change a kids life forever. Just like Romey, we never know what day will be our last. Before the summer started, as I spent time in prayer and devotion about summer camp, I made it a challenge in my own walk of faith with the Lord to look for those opportunities to truly share Christ’s love and salvation with the kids. Because in the end it’s never about the numbers, but it’s always about the individual and finding that one kid in the midst of the chaos that needs to hear and to know how much Jesus loves him and how He died on the cross with him in mind.
I am so excited and expectant to see what God does in the remaining weeks left of summer camp. He has already done so much, not just in the kids, but in myself as well. I see His handiwork every time I see a kid smile and feel loved. I see Him in my girls every time we have bible study and the light bulb of God’s Word goes off in their heads. However, my favorite way is when I see our TeenLeaders from the community stepping up and being a true godly example for the kids. God is on the move here at LOV, and I am so grateful to be a part!

LOV on Twitter