Category Archives: Children’s Stories

Finding Purpose

A Week at Summer Camp can Change a Child’s Life!

Children

“They are very troubled kids but have great potential to be something someday.”

These words could describe so many of the children who come to Youth Haven! In particular, they are the words of a soon-to-be adoptive mother of three children who are scheduled for summer camp at Youth Haven.

The oldest of the three siblings is in fifth grade and has already lived in 11 or 12 homes. The children were removed from their birth home due to domestic violence and drug abuse. They have been in foster care most of their lives, and parental rights were terminated two years ago.

When you support Youth Haven, you give troubled kids a chance to discover their potential to do something great with their lives. Maybe they’ll uncover a hidden talent in arts and crafts, or learn that they’re good at sports. Perhaps the encouraging words of a staff member or teen volunteer will be just what they need to boost their self-confidence. Without a doubt, they’ll hear that God loves them and has a special purpose for them!

Thank you for providing a way for these three children – and hundreds of others like them – to come to Youth Haven this summer. You are helping them become the young men and women God designed them to be!

center

No Longer Abandoned

Abandoned Child

How Your Partnership Helped Change a Hurting Child’s Life

Jacob* didn’t have a lot of stability in his life when he first came to us, and he desperately needed someone to show him the love of Christ. Fortunately, his aunt cared enough to reach out to us for help. Here is her request:

Jacob was born to a mother who turned 15 the day before he was born… When Jacob was 14 months old his mother gave birth to his sister. Having 2 children at 16 proved to be overwhelming and his mother slipped into substances to help her cope. Jacob at that point started living with his dad (my brother) full time and Jacob’s sister started staying with me and my mother.

During the time that Jacob started living with his dad he became close to the woman that my brother was in a relationship with. That relationship failed and that new mother figure was gone. A few years pass and Jacob’s dad gets married and Jacob once again has a new “mommy.” That marriage has ended and once again Jacob is left without a “mother.”

Jacob’s biological mother is still out of the picture as she cannot be consistent and she is still battling addiction and trying to care for her 3rd and 4th children.

Jacob has been, for lack of a better word, abandoned by every female in his life that he considered a mommy and that he loved and counted on for protection and love… I think it is important that he is in a place that will help guide him to put his faith in God and learn that He is with us always and He will never abandon us. Jacob deserves to have a little calm and peace in his life and I think that this will probably be the only opportunity he will have for that.

Because of the generosity of ministry partners like you, we were able to provide a scholarship for Jacob to attend our programs free of charge. He accepted Christ as his Savior at Youth Haven and received his own Bible to take home. And Jacob has returned multiple times, allowing us to become a stable source of love and encouragement as we repeatedly share the love of Christ with him.

Thank you for helping this child learn that God loves him deeply and will never abandon him. Your partnership with us in ministry changes lives!

*Name changed for confidentiality.

Youth Haven Children

Your Support Changed Her Life!

One Child’s Story of Hope and Love

You gave the hope and love of Jesus Christ to a broken little girl.

Like many of the children who come to Youth Haven, Stacey* knows the pain of being removed from her home due to neglect and abuse. She has experienced the hurt of rejection by relatives who took her in, only to decide they didn’t want to care for her because of her emotional needs.

Stacey even found herself living in a shelter on two separate occasions, when foster parents requested her removal from their home.

That’s when a colleague of Stacey’s case worker heard about her devastating situation and became a licensed foster parent so she could welcome Stacey into her home. She adopted her a year later.

But although Stacey has finally found a loving home, this sweet child still has deeply rooted hurts and memories that affect her behavior. So her adoptive mother reached out to Youth Haven with a request for help.

Of course, we were thrilled to have Stacey attend her first weekend at Youth Haven! She has returned regularly since that first visit, and received consistent, unconditional love and acceptance. Our staff have both encouraged and modeled positive behavior. And although we can’t erase her past, we can help her form new memories of fun times in a safe environment where she feels valued.

Most importantly, Stacey learned that God loves her and will never abandon or reject her. She accepted Christ as her Savior during her week of summer camp with us.

Because you cared, Stacey found the only hope that can truly make a lasting difference: the hope of Christ. She was only able to come to Youth Haven because our programs were available to her free of charge. Your support changed her life.

Thank you for making a difference in this little girl’s life, and in the lives of so many others who are struggling to overcome difficulties. With your continued help, disadvantaged children can know God loves them, and there is hope for the future!

*Name changed for confidentiality.

Children Playing at Youth Haven

You are Showing Hurting Children they are Loved!

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.”

Youth Haven Children

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!

Your Gifts Change Lives!

God is using you to change lives! Your financial contributions, volunteer hours, and time spent in prayer are all gifts that help meet the needs of disadvantaged children – children like Conner and David*, whose grandmother recently sent us this letter:

“Conner’s father left his mother when Conner was only three. Since then, Conner has had very little contact with his father – no cards, calls, or gifts, and only three visitations. This has left Conner feeling abandoned and unwanted. His step-father is good to him but is very authoritarian and the children are given little slack to be kids. Conner finds himself frequently confined to his room. Conner seems to believe that everyone (family, neighbors, classmates, teammates, etc.) dislikes him.

“David feels like he is expected to always play second fiddle to Conner. Whenever the boys are together, he always yields his desires and wants whatever his brother wishes. He compensates for this by slouching in his seat, putting a sour, unhappy look on his face, and refusing to respond, interact, or participate. When Conner is not present, David shines. The happy, helpful, loving boy bursts through.

“The boys’ mother and step-father both work in a small local restaurant. They make barely enough money to cover necessary expenses. The parents simply do not have the time, money, or energy to provide much beyond food, shelter, and clothing.”

Because of your generosity, we were able to offer scholarships for both of these boys to come to summer camp free of charge. Because you gave, they were warmly welcomed into an environment where they felt wanted. They had a chance to have fun and simply be kids, playing games like gaga ball and having squirt gun fights while running through our life-size maze. They ate their fill of delicious food, and our caring staff paid attention to them and showed them they were each uniquely gifted and valued.

Most importantly, they were affirmed with the life-changing truth that God loves them, will never abandon them, and has a very special plan for their lives. And they’ll be reminded of that truth every time they come to Youth Haven, whether for summer camp or on a weekend during the school year.

Every child has a story. So many families are struggling to make ends meet. So many kids live from day to day with feelings of abandonment and loneliness. They feel unwanted and worthless. They need a chance to get away from their daily struggles and simply have fun. They need someone to show them they have immeasurable value and God can use them to do great things!

Thank you for making that possible for these two boys, and so many more. Your gifts
truly do change lives!

*Names changed for confidentiality.

summer16feature

Thank You for Making a Difference!

Devonte with team leader

Devonte with his team leader in 2009

An Adoptive Mother’s Heartfelt Words of Thanks

I want to write this letter to say thank you for the opportunities you have given my son Devonte. He has been an LIT (Leader in Training) for the summer and continues. This has changed his attitude toward others. He has learned compassion for the children and adults. He has grown in his faith. He loves to give to others. What a pleasure it is to see him growing into a fine young man.

Before he started this journey he was very self absorbed and really cared very little or had no concern for others. He came to us at age 8 years and had already endured more than an adult should have, let alone a child. He was angry and just terrible to others. The one thing he looked forward to as a child was the weekends he got to spend at Youth Haven. Over the years of camp he grew to love the camp and at 15 years he asked if he could try to be in the LIT program. How grateful I was to have him be given this chance!

Both Devonte and I want to express our thanks for him to have this wonderful opportunity.

Signatures

Elizabeth Williams, Devonte Williams

Names and photos used with permission.

Devonte as LIT

Devonte as an LIT in 2015

You are Giving Hurting Children Hope!

By Rick Isham

You gave hope to a hurting boy at Youth Haven!

This particular child was having a rough week. At one point, he became very distraught and we were having a hard time getting him to calm down and talk to us. All he kept saying was he wanted to see his mom. Over and over again that’s all he kept repeating. I finally told him we could go to the office and call her. His response told me all I needed to know about his behavior. He shouted back at me, “No we can’t… she’s dead! God took her.”

He looked at me with tear-filled eyes that begged for me to help take the pain away. It took me a moment to process. You see, I was once in his shoes. I looked him in the eyes and said, “I’m so sorry. I know what it’s like to lose someone you love.” I told him I had an older sister who died when I was 12. His eyes just peered back in shock as I shared. I gently touched him on the shoulder and again said, “I’m so sorry.” He leaned in for a hug and just cried on my shoulder for a moment.

We walked over to the office, talking as we went. I learned that he has been in foster care since his mom died 2 years ago, and he and his sister are about to be adopted. I could tell he was nervous about that.

After we got to the office, I opened my bag of Twizzlers and just wanted to spoil this boy to show him I was sincere. I also wanted to talk to him about his statement that God took his mom away. I explained that for years I was angry with God. I blamed God for my sister’s death and didn’t want anything to do with Him. I then shared some verses which changed the way I looked at death and pain.

I took out a new Trailbook (New Testament), which we give to each child. I turned to Revelation 21:3-4 and highlighted the verses: “…God himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain…”

I handed him the Bible and explained that death came into the world as a result of sin and man’s choices. But God made a way for us – through Jesus – to overcome death. I described heaven and explained the hope I have in Christ that one day I will see my sister again. I prayed with him, and he wrote a letter to his mom. I believe his hurting heart found hope, and healing began.

This is one of many tragic stories which could be told by the children of Youth Haven, each carrying hurt and pain from a world of sin.

You and I, we get the opportunity to truly give hope, an everlasting hope, to the boys and girls who attend Youth Haven. Thank you for the important part you have played. Please continue to pray for the children as well as the staff as we continue to be a light in the darkness to thousands of children!

Youth Haven Children

“You Saved My Life”

One mother’s story of hope

Youth Haven Children at Christmas

You are changing lives! As you read this letter, you’ll see just how much your gifts mean:

“I grew up in a poor home, with an alcoholic, abusive single father. My mother was not in the picture at all as I was taken away due to her refusal to treat her schizophrenia and drug problem. At the age of 3, she sold me for drugs which began my long process through foster homes and isolation.

You saved my life; through all my pain and sorrow, I learned that the world is more than what I had seen. I was able to be a child, and learned to love and be loved through your volunteers and staff. Your staff quickly showed me that I was in a safe place and could be a child by playing and laughing and singing and learning what a loving and understanding God we have, and that He is real.

I accepted God into my heart on my second stay and have shared a close relationship with Him since.

Your facility is a God send to those less fortunate. Whether they are poor, hurting or angry at the world, you show them another way… through God!

I am the mother of four sons now. I am a full time student and very low income. I was in a very abusive marriage. It has taken its toll on my children. It hurts me to know what they experienced and I am making the changes to better our lives, but lasting results still linger. It has been five years since my sons and I have had any contact with their father, nor does he provide any financial support. Please consider helping me to show my sons the love and support you provided me as a child.”

Because friends like you cared, this woman found hope as a broken, hurting child. And because you care, we have been able to show her children the love and support they need. They experienced a Merry Christmas last year because you gave. Thank you for making this possible for so many deserving kids!

Torrie’s Story

torrieGod used your gifts to change Torrie’s life!

She was 13 when she first came to Youth Haven, with the weight of the world on her shoulders.

In one week, Torrie and her younger siblings had learned that her parents were getting divorced, and that her mom had cancer. The months that followed were difficult for the family. With her mom sick and unable to work, Torrie took on a great deal of responsibility for her sister and brother. And as money dwindled, they found themselves living in a hotel.

Fortunately, her mom reached out to Youth Haven for help. Her brother and sister came as Ranchers, and Torrie got involved in our teen program as a potential Leader-in Training (LIT).

“At first I didn’t want anything to do with God,” she remembers. “I came because I loved working with the kids.” But God began to soften her heart, until one evening in chapel, she accepted Christ as her Savior. That moment changed her life.

She came back as often as she could, hungry to learn more about God. While she was here she could rest from the difficulties she faced at home. Our staff encouraged her, and she found hope. Now, she is part of our summer staff, grateful for the opportunity to give back to the kids some of what was invested in her life.

Things are still tough for Torrie. Her mom still has cancer, and there is still very little money. But Youth Haven has helped her understand that God has a good and perfect plan for her.

“This is my home,” she says. “I know if I never came to Youth Haven I would not be happy at all. I would not be godly at all. I would definitely be going down the wrong path.”

Your financial gifts will help more children and teens like Torrie discover life-changing love and hope at Youth Haven!

 

When You Give, Lives are Changed!

Youth Haven ChildDear Youth Haven,

Your camp has impacted my life immensely. I was in a very bad spot when I came to you guys, and you helped me see that God is still there to love me and help me through the hard times… You guys, this camp, has helped me move through those hard times blocking my way, with faith and love. Before you guys, I lost my way, but all of your lessons and meaningful team talks have been wonderful in helping me restore my relationship with God.

I am very proud to say I’m training to be an L.I.T. (Leader-in-Training). I love being able to take part in helping kids find God like you guys did for me. I love it when kids come to me and ask questions about things they don’t understand, or just to ask me to play a game. Youth Haven brings out the best in a lot of people, from kids to adults.

Thank you!

-Lindsey