Every year, we take a group of children camping. This is never an ordinary camping trip and these are by no means any ordinary children. These children come from circumstances that many other people never have to face. For some, they live in a place where they will never truly belong - born as the child of a migrant worker, never having set foot in the country that they are citizens in. For others, their struggle comes in the form of family - for whatever reason their family could not properly care for them, and they have been placed in a children's home so that they will be able to complete their studies. Often people in situations like this grow up feeling unknown, unimportant, unloved.
Each child's situation is different and yet they all have something in common. They have all someway, somehow, through someone discovered the truth of the Gospel and the great love of Jesus Christ. In previous years we have watched children on our camp grow steadily. This year we watched as many of the children who were so young when we started hosting the Lord's tents camping 4 years ago, now confidently lead group devotions, sharing passages of scripture with the younger children.
One of the highlights of the camp was a 3 hour hike. Each group had some local children in it who lead the group on a journey to find different species of plants and animals. Through thorn bushes, up mountains, often off the beaten track, each team journeyed together. For the children from the slums in the cities and towns, this was a new and exciting experience. Even the local children expressed their joy in walking with a goal in mind, often having walked these paths before, but never having thought about what was actually around them while they walked.
On the Saturday night, each team was given a number of ingredients and told to make themselves a meal. The conditions were that they had to make something in a hollow piece of bamboo, and that everything needed to be made over the fire. With a little imagination, each team managed to come up with quite an appetizing meal - which was finished just in time for a huge downpour of rain.
Each year we have come across different challenges when it comes to having the kids sleep in tents. This year, it was the rain. It rained and rained and poured until the tents began flooding from the water that had begun to build up around the tents. At midnight everyone was pulled out of their tents and given a safe and dry place to sleep for the remainder of the night. On the final day as each of the children stood to say something about their camp experience, it was obvious that even the rain had brought the children closer together.
God did something special in the hearts of each of the children. They are important. They are loved. They will never be unknown - for their Heavenly Father has called them each by name. And while their circumstances may be more difficult than some others have to face, they can have the boldness to dream the dreams that God has put in their hearts. He will show them the way.