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!

Opportunities to Serve

Investing your time and talents in the lives of disadvantaged children will impact the world around you!

Employment Opportunity: Children’s Team Leader

Additional staff (typically college-aged) are needed for our children’s programming teams in Michigan and Arizona with two position types available: weekend only and full time. In both positions, you will have the opportunity to lead a team of children during their experiences at Youth Haven and share your time and heart with them throughout their stay. Our team leaders see themselves as missionaries, serving God in home missions. As such, they are passionate about the opportunities they have to share their faith and be the hands and feet of Jesus to the children Youth Haven serves. Please visit www.youthhaven.org/employment for more information or to apply.

Volunteer Opportunities

An important part of our children’s programs is making sure our campus facilities are in good condition for the children. You can partner with us to provide safe and fun experiences for them by helping us maintain our buildings, grounds, and activity stations. Examples include landscaping, cleaning, raking leaves, sorting/organizing donated clothing and toys, painting, and more. Serve for a morning, afternoon, or all day! Your church, organization, youth group, or small group can also “adopt” a building or activity station and commit to maintaining that area of our campus. To learn more, please visit www.youthhaven.org/volunteer, or contact Bethany, our Volunteer Coordinator, at 517-569-3328.

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Summer 2016 Volunteer Corner

summer16volunteerVolunteers Make This Ministry Possible!

Volunteer Work Day
We would like to thank the many wonderful volunteers who were part of our Volunteer Work Day on Saturday, May 14! We are so grateful for their help with cleaning, landscaping, and a variety of other projects to make sure our grounds and facilities were ready for summer camp! At the Michigan campus, cold, dreary weather didn’t stop our terrific team of volunteers, who cheerfully worked throughout the day. At the Arizona campus, we enjoyed working with an incredible team of Family Life Radio volunteers. Our long-standing relationship with FLR as sister ministries is a tremendous blessing to us and the children we serve.

Servant Event
Servant Event volunteers spent a week with us at our Michigan campus, where they helped with brush clean-up, painting, mowing, and other important maintenance projects. They also began the construction process for a walk-through maze that will be an exciting new children’s activity in our adventure trail.

Thank You!
We are incredibly grateful for so many volunteers who partner with us through serving. To our Adopt-a-Facility volunteers, our Lansing Christian volunteers, those who helped with our Pancake Breakfast, and the many other groups and individuals who serve so faithfully, thank you! We couldn’t do what we do without you!

 

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.

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Summer Highlights

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The 2016 Youth Haven Summer Games

This summer, we’ve been celebrating the Olympics at Youth Haven! The kids are having a great time with all kinds of fun games and activities… swimming, gaga ball, archery, biking, “Capture the Flag,” and more!

At our Michigan campus, the children also love flying across the field on our zipline or speeding down the hill on our giant slip ‘n’ slide.

At the Arizona campus, wildlife expert and educator Wildman Phil has been entertaining the children each week, along with his animal friends, including Stumpy, a tortoise who was severely injured and has learned to walk using a wheel that is attached to one side of his body.

But there’s so much more to our programs than fun and games! The children have been learning that it’s not about winning medals or showing others how good they are. God has chosen them for His team, not because of their own talents or abilities, but because He loves them, and that’s what makes them special!

Every child receives a Youth Haven “Trailbook,” a personalized New Testament Bible, to take home. And several of the children have already accepted Christ as Savior this summer! God is using your prayers and financial support to change lives. Thank you!

Introducing…

Thor KolemainenThor Kolemainen, Director of Advancement

We are pleased to introduce to you Thor Kolemainen, who recently joined our staff as Director of Advancement. Thor will be working closely with Youth Haven’s President, Lars Carlson, in an effort to develop stronger relationships with you, our faithful friends and supporters. We want to create a culture where Youth Haven is an extended family of staff, volunteers, prayer partners, and financial partners, all mutually supportive of each other and with a common purpose of sharing Christ with disadvantaged children. Please feel free to reach out to Thor with any questions you might have about our ministry, or with your prayer requests. He can be reached via e-mail at thor@youthhaven.org, or by phone at 517-569-3328.

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

Spring 2016 Progress Update

Progress Update

Your gifts provide safe, high quality facilities for children in need!

At the Michigan Campus:
In our “Chicken Coop” gymnasium, the boys’ and girls’ restrooms have been gutted, and remodeling is nearing completion. Cleaning, painting, and repairs are taking place throughout the entire building.

In the “Deerlodge” dining facility, the walls and ceiling have been patched and painted, old kitchen equipment removed, and new stainless steel counters, sinks and a dishwasher installed. Feeding the children is a key component of our ministry, and these upgrades will enable our chef to more efficiently prepare meals in the large quantities that are needed for the kids. Thank you to the Home Depot volunteers (pictured above) who painted our children’s dining room!

At the Arizona Campus:
Volunteers have thoroughly cleaned and painted the dorms, repaired and painted picnic tables for activities and meal times, and painted one of our activity pavilions.

We have stepped out in faith to accomplish these needed projects and are trusting God to provide approximately $25,000 to cover the cost. You could be part of that provision by giving a special gift toward the renovations. In addition to strict state regulations and camp inspections, we believe providing high quality facilities for the children helps show them they are important to us. Thank you for making that possible!