By Katherine Lohrmann,
Michigan Children’s Program Lead
We have all heard before that Jesus is the Good Shepherd. Yet when we pause and reflect on that truth for the hundredth time in our lifetime, it still is the comforting truth. He is not a shepherd who will run away when danger comes to His flock. If a wolf attacks, He will stand by and watch over His sheep. Though there are many sheep, the Good Shepherd knows them by name, and they know His voice. Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
During one week of summer camp, there was a little boy who informed me his mom sent him to camp because she didn’t want him around – how she needed a break from him – how he was a problem. This story isn’t unusual for most children who come to Youth Haven, but this time it again pierced my heart.
Throughout the week, I watched this dear boy come to flourish in his own fantasy world. He liked to wear a costume, which was supported by the kitchen staff who offered him cardboard for his “armor.” The child loved to create things, so his Team Leader ensured they got to go to the craft building, even though it isn’t the typical activity for older boys. As he frequently would wander off, support staff would offer a helping hand by giving an extra “body” to the team – how this boy loved that one on one time!
The final evening of the retreat, my new friend asked if I would sit with him for the fireworks (a special treat we were able to provide for the kids that week, thanks to the generous donations of some local fireworks companies). I was honored to reply with a resounding “Yes!” Though the fireworks were a truly magnificent sight, I think the sight I enjoyed most was watching this child’s jaw drop in awe and delight on that special evening. It was as is for just one week, his whole world of fantasy was true – it was as if he was being told, “This is all just for you, because you are wanted, you are special, and you are so loved.”
For one boy, this week was magical. But this isn’t some “Magic Kingdom” propaganda. For this boy, it was the truth that the Good Shepherd will protect him from the lies he is being told at home – the Good Shepherd will call him by name – the Good Shepherd would bring all the crafts, fireworks, and billions of stars just to tell him how loved he is.
I suppose this was the summary of the week for one boy, but that story is the story of so many other children (and staff too!) God is up to amazing things – even if it be to show just one child how loved He is – using Youth Haven to do so!