At Laity Lodge Family Camp, we pray, desire, hope, and plan for our guests to experience wholeness and transformation–from individuals to families. In our final Fall retreat, LLFC partnered with YoungLives to put on a weekend camp experience with this goal for teen moms and their babies. What a beautiful sight to see! What a joyful noise was raised!
At each LLFC retreat, people roll into the Canyon, and weight rolls off their back. This is peace–truly a fruit of the Holy Spirit being and working in this place.
These young mothers who came out to YoungLives are used to feeling so much shame, weight, judgement, responsibility, and great heaviness. They constantly feel wrong or that they have been wronged, and they physically look downcast. But at camp they felt comfortable. They embraced peace. They felt at home. They felt accepted. One girl even shared that here, for the first time, she was treated like royalty. High school girls turned mothers were on level ground as they heard the truth of the gospel.
Family Camp created a space for girls to be themselves, and to just be. That weekend, living out our mission of creating wholeness and seeking transformation, meant a pavilion overflowing with thirteen- to nineteen-year-olds dancing, singing at the top of their lungs, and attentively listening to the message of a new and abundant life offered through Jesus.
Through time at camp, girls heard, saw, and experienced that they don’t have to be alone anymore. Many any of them claimed the deepest sense of belonging in the family of Christ by grabbing ahold of a new identity where there is no condemnation.
Preparing for this retreat, I was encouraged and motivated by James 1:27, which says, “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”
I know these young moms are not actually widows, but they have been left with no husband. Many might say these children are not orphans in the truest sense of the word, yet they will most likely be raised without a father. Most of the teenage girls themselves are spiritually orphaned and emotionally widowed.
It is both our duty and our joy as Christ followers to love people that no one else cares for, stands up for, or talks about. Throughout his letters Paul calls and encourages us to be “spiritual mothers and fathers” to others–examples to those younger than us in the faith. Throughout scripture people who believe the Lord can and will use them, and God blesses their plans exponentially more than they imagined. That’s how I felt about this weekend. The Lord truly blessed each aspect of it and created a lasting impact for the generation to come.
As a new year awaits, and we look with expectant hearts to what the Lord will do in 2018, I pray we are encouraged to continually find opportunities to be spiritual mothers and fathers in our daily lives.