It has been a wonderful summer taking students to Middle School Camp in Santa Cruz . People ask us “how can you take students away and keep the cost affordable?” The answer: by doing your own cooking, sleeping on the floor and providing the transportation. It helps tremendously, and it allows us to take more young people away to camp.
The purpose in taking young people away to camp is to help them focus on the message that they are loved by God, without the distractions that always surround them in their lives at home. This includes students from the Collings Youth Center in Sacramento.
We celebrated 20 young people praying to ask Jesus to be Lord of their life at our Middle School Santa Cruz Camp. One of them was a student named Alissa* who we hadn’t seen at the Collings Youth Center for months. A few days before we were to leave for camp, she walked through the door of the Collings Teen Center. Alissa periodically shows up at the Teen Center to check in with us to literally let us know that she is still alive. You see, she has been a victim of sex trafficking and endures an abusive home life, and she has run away from every group and foster home in which she’s been placed. However, by the grace of God, we have established a relationship with this young lady who showed up right before we were to leave for camp.
Somehow we convinced our Interim Director that Alissa needed to join us at the last minute, and there she was, on the bus with us, heading to camp; able to, for at least the moment experience normal childhood fun when her life at home is far from that. Fast forward to the night of the Gospel presentation, Alissa stood and gave her life to Christ. If there was ever a moment where we recognized the power of the Lord it was then, as this young girl, held by our female staff, wept uncontrollably after receiving salvation and hope for her future.
Although Alissa’s situation at home remains the same now that we have returned from camp, however, the same hope of salvation carries her and wins the day. And grace wins. Every time.
It goes without saying that this labor of love to bring students before the Lord is worth it. The sacrifices staff make as we are away from our families, disrespected by students, and enduring sleepless nights cannot compare to the joy we experience after witnessing a life being transformed and becoming full of hope.
The staff will follow up with Alissa and those who made gospel decisions at camp. We will also follow up with many others who said they just wanted to know more before they were ready to make a decision.
Thank you so much for your faithfulness and for your prayers for the young people and the staff who share their lives and faith.
*name changed to protect student’s privacy