Monthly Archives: March 2015

Thank You for Everything You Do!

The following letter was written by a teen who has been part of our programs since she was seven years old:

“A few weeks after I had turned 3 years old my real father died in a semi wreck and was killed instantly. My real mother took his death and decided to make some wrong choices. She got into a relationship with an abusive drug addict. She did these things with him and he would hit and try to hurt me and my siblings. The courts found out and gave my real mother a choice: him or her children. Sadly she chose him instead of us, because of the things he gave her that ‘made her feel good.’

“So because of this we were put into the adoption services and sent different ways. Me and my little brother, who was almost 1 year old at the time, went from house to house. But no one would take us. I felt unwanted and unloved. Then I remembered that my school had taught me that God was there for me. But times kept getting tougher and I pushed God away. Blamed him for everything that had happened and forgot about him.

“Then my great aunt and uncle, who we call Mom and Dad, decided to take me and my little brother. So they adopted us, along with the five other foster kids before us. My dad was a construction worker and a roofer. My mom was retired at the time. But she used to be a social service worker and would drive foster kids to Youth Haven Ranch.

“So my mom told me about the camp, and when I turned seven I came there as a rancher. I used to only go there for the activities and the kids I can make friends with. But that was only until I met the Youth Haven staff. They opened up my eyes and told me that God really was there. That he would help me push through the hard times and give me the strength to move forward. So then all I wanted to do was come to Youth Haven to learn more about God.

“When I turned 13 I decided I wanted to become an LIT. I decided to make this decision because of all the LIT’s I had seen before, and because I wanted to teach other people what I knew about God. So I took my training and became an official LIT. I’ve been one for about a little over a year. But even through this I went through hard times. My dad (great uncle) was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer and died on Valentine’s Day. Also my mom and I didn’t, and still don’t, get along. She had always favored my brothers, and worked me like a maid. She has treated me badly and I’m not fully considered family anymore. But I know that God is there for me and that it is my job to share my testimony and relate to others to help them. So I’ve kept coming out to help the kids understand the meaning of having God as our Savior.

“I love helping others and I know you do, too. I just love seeing the smiles on their faces and knowing I made a difference. I know that what you do really does make a difference because I was once a rancher and I have the experience. So I want to say thank you for everything you do!”

A Life Transformed

One choice changes everything.

Josh* first came to Youth Haven in the summer of 2013, at the request of his adoptive mother. Although he was adopted at the age of 3, he bears the scars of abuse, neglect, and sexual abuse as an infant and toddler.

When his adoptive parents divorced and his dad grew less involved in his life, things became worse. Josh craved male attention and needed positive role models. He lost interest in many of the things he once enjoyed. His mother wrote to us, “Everything seems to be such an effort for him. He seems like a lost, unhappy soul lately that lacks in self-confidence.”

His first few visits to Youth Haven were a bit rough. His team leaders saw the scars that had caused his adoptive mother to reach out to us for help. He complained a lot and seemed disrespectful, even hostile. He showed very little interest in learning about God. Yet there was a side of him that was affectionate and thoughtful, in spite of his stubbornness.

In the spring of 2014, during a weekend stay at the Ranch, Josh made the decision to accept Christ as his Savior.

When he came again that summer, there was a marked improvement in his behavior. He was cooperative and got along well with others. And in the fall, even more improvement was visible. Josh appeared affectionate, self-confident, enjoyed himself, and was a good listener. His team leader even recommended him for our Leaders-in-Training program!

Choosing to give provides the opportunity for Josh and so many other like him to come to Youth Haven, not just once, but several times. It gives those kids the steady positive influence they need to  make the choice to accept Christ. It helps them transform their lives.

Yes, one choice changes everything.

*Name changed for confidentiality.