Train a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:6
Mark and I just returned from spending four days at Kid’s Camp. This was our third year of attending this church camp near Canyon, Texas. Each year I look forward to going again even though I know it will take a couple of weeks to rest up from the long days of activities.
Our day began between 5:30 a.m. and 6 a.m. and didn’t wind down until almost 9 p.m. Some of the other counselors were on the go from 4:30 a.m. until after 11 at night. Our days were spent in various activities from Bible study to crafts to recreation.
This year’s theme was “I am special” and our theme verse was Psalm 139:14 which states, in the King James Version, “I will praise thee, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made…” The word fearfully can be translated to also mean remarkably. The Lord made each one of us unique and there isn’t another person in the world like us. Even identical twins are unique and individuals.
Since Mark and I married we watched many young people grow up in our church. Now, many of them are married with children of their own. I remember the shy little girls who now sing solos and teach Sunday school. I also remember some of the little boys we taught in Sunday school.
In particular, I remember one group of fifth grade boys Mark and I taught in Sunday School. They were the most active and mischievous group of boys I ever knew. They weren’t mean little boys, but you could always count on them disrupting the class. Our patience wore thin and we even contemplated quitting, but we continued on week after week.
It was difficult to discipline these boys and there were times we threatened to send some of them to their parents' class or take them to the pastor. We were sure that the lessons fell on deaf ears. I felt as though I had failed not only them, but also the entire class.
Today, these boys are now fine young men with families of their own. Each of them are hardworking men who place God first, then their families, and yet find time to serve in their local churches. I am so glad that Mark and I didn’t give up on them when they were in the fifth grade.
Since Mark and I couldn’t have children of our own, we started borrowing the children of our friends. How well I remember the tea parties, shopping together, and lunch at their favorite fast-food places. I also remember the discussions we had as I let them choose the topic. I learned all about the latest dolls, children’s programs and movies, video games, and activities at school. I would ask questions because the children were the experts on these subjects and they enjoyed educating me.
I remembered what it was like when I was a child and an adult would ask me about something. It made me feel grownup and special that an adult would take an interest in the things that were important to me. It was even more special when it was someone who wasn’t related to me. I guess I felt like my relatives had to be interested in me.
Fast-forwarding back to the present, I thought about my reasons for helping with Vacation Bible School or attending Kid’s Camp. I could say it was because I never got to go to Vacation Bible School or camp as a child. I could say that but it wasn’t the real reason.
The reason I help with Vacation Bible School and Kid’s Camp is because I love these boys and girls and want the best for them. I know that these earthly things lead to eternal life when one of these boys and girls accept Jesus Christ as their Savior. I know the joy I feel as I am given the opportunity to share Jesus with them and hear their heartfelt prayers. I know the joy of a hug from little arms or even a smile from one of these little ones.
Investing in the lives of children has its share of struggles and challenges. It includes the heartbreak of watching some of them struggle with a difficult home life. There are the tears of shattered dreams when things don’t go the way the children want. There are the hugs of comfort and encouragement. All of these things are so worth going through to see these young lives blossom as they grow to adulthood. Investing in the life of a child brings priceless rewards of joy.