altered part two

Camp day 3. (feel free to catch up here and here)

The kids are comfortable.
A little too comfortable.
We are all hot and tired and kind of getting a little short with each other.
Names are easy to remember.
I know my way around.
I don't feel lost anymore.
There is more than enough food at lunch today and it is good.
There are even brownies.
I try not to notice that some of the kids are wearing the same clothes they wore yesterday.

It is pretty obvious that some of the camp summer work staff (not ours) is less than thrilled to have us here.
I’m sure they are nearing the end of their summer, and let’s face it.
They are used to rich white church camp kids.
Not kids with tattoos and nipple rings and foul mouths.
The staff is a little low on patience and understanding.
The counselor I am working with wins major props with me for telling off a life guard for basically being a jerk to our kids.
Because by now. On day three, they are very much our kids.
Also, maybe bb guns ( loaded bb guns) might not be the best idea for “urban challenge” camp. I worry a little bit about how the shooting range will go….but surprisingly well.
Except for the fact that the guy in charge said the word “cock” about a half dozen times to a crowd of junior high boys. Bad idea.

Every day after lunch we go to chapel.
Mostly we are glad to be in the air conditioning.
The band is good but the kids are easily distracted. They break out ipods and games and talk noisily amongst themselves.
The speaker for the week is a pretty lively ex-football player.
He speaks their language. He is funny and energetic and keeps his message short.
But still, the natives grow restless. I am constantly telling them to turn around or stop giggling while people are praying. To not touch each other and that maybe now wouldn’t be the best time to play your PSP. I think the guy is losing them and better throw some more tshirts into the crowd or wrap it up fast. He promises that he is almost done.
Instead he asks some of the counselors to head up front.
And I get up and line up with many of the others.
Mostly because I am tired of shushing all the kids in my row.
But then I realize what he is about to do and panic inside.
An altar call.
I am not a fan of altar calls.
The speaker has all their heads down, eyes closed. (well they are supposed to be at least, but I don’t see anybody with their eyes closed). I swear he is about to have them raise their hand or even worse – walk forward.
I panic a little. Wondering what the heck I will say if a kid comes up to me.
But then I realize that these kids aren’t praying. Their chatter is a constant buzz. They seem to be more interested in whoever is sitting behind him, than whatever this guy is saying.
Then I start to panic for a different reason. I start to worry about how awkward it is going to be when no one responds.
If no one walks forward.
How dumb we will all look just standing there.

He talks them through the classic sinners prayer and tell them that if they made a decision to follow Jesus to come forward and pray with one of us.

And it was like a mad rush for the front. Kids were not walking down the aisle but running. Lots of them. Maybe even most of them.
One sweet little girl, maybe seven, almost tackled me to be first. Earlier that morning she was trying to show me completely inappropriate videos on youtube on my phone. And she knew every word. Later at lunch, her potty mouth shocked me. Which, by day three was hard to do.
And we prayed, while a line formed in front of every single one of us.
And this little girl didn’t let go of me, while a prayed with another girl.
A favorite from my group, a recent immigrant from Uganda.
And the words game easy. And I was amazed and choked up at the moment.

And I am not na├»ve enough to think that all these kids that rushed to the altar “accepted Christ” or made significant life changes.
For some of them He was already there. Some probably came because everyone else was. But some were genuine. Mostly they just desperately wanted to be touched and loved on and prayed over. And I was more than happy to do my part.

And the first little girl that I prayed with still held fiercely to my arm.
While I tried to nonchalantly wipe away a few tears.
And the speaker attempted to rip a phone book in half.

Bigger Picture Moment

This post is part of bigger picture blogs..........and attempt to find the bigger picture in our crazy week and look for faith along the way. Check out some of the other posts at Sarah's blog.

(and I know these posts would be so much better with pictures, but I feel a little weird lugging around my nikon. I'm gonna take a little camera.....but ask permission before I post anything. These aren't my kids...and my job is to love them, not blog about we will see. But I hope I can. I want to everyone to see their beautiful faces.)


Jill said...

Thanks for sharing your experience of stepping beyond your comfort zone. I, like you, am not an altar call kind of gal but I really appreciate you sharing this story of what you experienced and the grace that was around that experience. Thanks!

Young Mom said...

Thanks for posting this. I would have had the same feeling you did, but what a great oppurtunity to love them.

Brooke said...

What a wonderful post, sharing your heart and experinces with us, a moment that would make me uncomfortable too. Thank you for sharing.

Stacia said...

Wow. I can't believe your courage. Sending you continued peace, renewed strength, a lot more brownies, and many, many more hugs from little girls who need you.

Corinne said...

What an incredible bunch of moments :)

This Heavenly Life said...

I've been really drawn into your camp experiences this week. I feel like you and those kids are taking me to camp, teaching me lessons, and I would LOVE to see pictures of them.

I'm glad you were there for them at this altar call.

And I'm glad you didn't strain any muscles trying to rip up some phone books :)

Laanykidsmom said...

I felt a little like this on a much smaller scale when we did vacation bible school. We attracted many kids from the neighborhood, with problems the likes of which our own church kids cannot fathom. It was difficult to send them back home each night, knowing there was really nothing to go home to. But we do what we can with what we have and hope we make a difference. Bravo to you for what you're doing!