That’s about the only way to sum up Angel Tree Camp – the camp I attended last Friday-Monday for kids who have family members in prison. The Lord showed up in a way I really don’t think I’ve ever seen before. Kids – and counselors – were forever changed. I truly believe that. I’m really not sure where to even start. I guess I’ll just start in the middle and tell about the incredble move of God we saw on Sunday night, and then just show some pictures of some of the fun stuff.
Sunday evening, the older kids (ages 8-12) gathered around the pond at Ceta Canyon after roasting S’mores around the campfire. My friend Jody Wilson came out and led us in some worship. The Angel Tree directors, Greg and Dawnette Lusk, had a floating cross built. It had a bunch of holes drilled in it. The kids were to light a candle and pray for their family member who was incarcerated.
I got to lead the prayer time that night, and I really felt like the kids needed to deal with their own hurts before praying for their loved ones. So I just talked to them about sitting in Jesus’ lap, about how He’s not mean or violent like other men in their lives. About how sitting in his lap is peaceful and safe. And then for the next 15-20 minutes or so – maybe longer – I don’t know, the kids just climbed up into Jesus’ lap and He healed their broken hearts. It was amazing. I watched 70+ kids who couldn’t sit still or be quiet for 3 days suddenly become calm and quiet and experience the love of God. I talked to them about being angry, feeling abandoned, and being scared.
And one by one, the kids just handed Jesus those feelings, and asked Him to replace them with joy and comfort and peace. And we just sat and watched as Jody played his guitar (he tried to sing, but due to the emotion of what he was watching he couldn’t get any words out) and the Holy Spirit simply ministered to all those kids. Some talked to their counselors. Some just sat. Some weeped. I had 8 year old boys in my cabin. One of them, Anthony, came up to me and laid his head in my lap and weeped because he missed his dad so much.
Emotions stored up in a bunch of hurting kids who are taught not to cry, taught to fight back and be tough and prideful began to pour out all around the pond. And then one by one the kids lit a candle and prayed for their moms and dads and uncles and brothers in prison. Words can’t really describe the night. All I know is that for the first time, Jesus became really real to a bunch of kids. And they discovered how good of a Daddy their Heavenly Father really can be.
This picture is dark, but it’s the kids wating to light their candle and place it in the cross.
This is me and all my boys – Tae, Jhaiden, Jose, U’Vante, Frank, Dan, Angelo, Garytt, and Anthony. We were the Green Group, as you can probably tell. This may be the only time all 9 of them were together and still enough to take a picture.
I taught our morning chapels (Donny Lane of Citychurch handled the evenings). This is what my view looked like on Monday morning of some of the kids. There were around 180 4-12 year olds, so this is just about one-third of the kids.
This post is already pretty long, so I think I’ll just share more pictures and some of the more fun stories tomorrow or Friday. Thanks to all of you who prayed for the weekend. It was incredible.