When you see the smiles on their faces and hear their laughter as you watch them playing around our campus, it’s hard to imagine the devastation so many of the children we serve have experienced. They aren’t just a bunch of happy kids having fun at camp. These are kids from very difficult circumstances. Their hearts have been broken. Their spirits have been wounded.
Patience* and her two younger siblings first came to Youth Haven shortly after returning to their mother’s home. They had been living out of state with their dad, but the conditions there were so terrible that their mother had filed for emergency custody to get them out of the home. She told us the children’s father was on drugs and hadn’t been paying his rent. The house was so infested with bed bugs and lice that the children had to leave everything behind so they wouldn’t bring bugs with them.
During their first weekend retreat, Patience told her team leader she would rather be living with her dad, despite all the conditions her mom had described to us. But she and her siblings felt safe at Youth Haven, their needs were met, and they engaged in every activity with excitement.
The most significant thing the children received was the love of Jesus. They saw it modeled in our staff, and they learned Jesus loved them enough to sacrifice His own life for them. Patience responded by accepting Christ! And all of the children went home with a new Youth Haven Trailbook (customized Bible).
Since that first visit, all three kids have returned to Youth Haven multiple times. We mailed them each a care package filled with snacks, small toys, Bible stories, and activities during the COVID-19 pandemic. We continue to send them regular cards, letters, newsletters, and activity booklets to remind them how much we love them - and how much more Jesus loves them!
Each time they come back for a retreat, we see more growth and joy in their lives. Patience recently joined our Elevate teen program, which focuses on helping teens grow deeper in their walk with Christ. As part of Elevate, she’ll also receive mentoring in leadership skills and have opportunities to serve as a volunteer with the younger kids.
Patience and her siblings came to us wounded and broken. Thank you for helping us share the hope of Christ with them!
*Name changed for confidentiality