As you probably know, the Black family has suffered a great loss today. Their second son, Barrett, who served as our youth praise leader and who was such a special young man in our church, passed away this morning. He was such a delight to be around and will be forever missed in our hearts at Galilee.
As you can imagine, breaking the news to our twenty-six students was very difficult this morning. In addition to that, all of the leaders were extremely devastated by the news, making the delicate situation even more difficult as we tried to teach and comfort our students. My initial thought was pack up and head home to be there for our friends through this tragedy. After composing myself, I decided the best thing would be to attempt to finish camp as planned while mourning the loss of our dear friend.
We sat the group of students down in the dorm before going to breakfast (ladies told the girls and I told the guys). At first the teens were in shock. Not much emotion was displayed by the guys; however, the girls were emotional. After breakfast, we brought the entire group together for our normally planned quiet time. I explained to them there would be no expectations for them to act “normal” or as if nothing were going on. As a matter of fact, I told them I expected each one of them to grieve (perhaps in different ways, but nonetheless grieve in one way or another). I also told them I was less concerned about a schedule or curriculum, and more concerned about them so we would talk as long as they wanted to talk. After about 40 minutes of talking, crying, and praying together, we decided to head to the worship service. I acknowledged that the last thing they wanted to do was go into a worship service; however, I explained when I want to worship God the least, that is the time I need to worship God the most. After the service the teens had some hope and looked forward to the day. It served as the uplifting experience we needed if we were going to accomplish what we came here to do.
For our service project we have been serving kids in a low income area. Today we played kickball and football, and we also played with sidewalk chalk and bubbles. Our teens mostly led in these games and made sure all of our guests were having a great time. After the games, I was able to tell them the Bible story of the good Samaritan and then, for crafts, we made friendship bracelets. To see our teens selflessly serving these children was such a blessing. It was as though they were able to put their sorrows to the side for a moment to love on the kids from the community. Thank you for your prayers because this was definitely an act of God’s favor on our trip.
I have made a decision to detour from the provided study materials for camp and discuss what we are all walking through. This afternoon (going against everything I have been taught about teens), I went into a group discussion with 14 young men not knowing what the conversation would consist of. I was completely transparent and told them some thoughts I had been wrestling with and that was all it took. They opened up and began sharing as well. We had another 40-minute conversation that they mostly led. As a result of that kind of stuff in our group times, some students have requested that tonight, for our family group time, we have a “share time” where the students can discuss what is going on and how they are feeling. They have bonded with one another like never before and the maturity I have seen in our teens is no doubt a blessing from God above.
This camp will truly be the most memorable in so many ways. We have seen growth from our teens in 24-hours that I would have never expected in months. Though my heart is very heavy for a very dear family to us all, I am celebrating the growth God is doing in the hearts of our teens. The unity is undeniable and the trust is unbelievable! Thanks again for your continued prayers for the Black family and our teens at camp.
See you guys soon,