If I could tell you the stories that emerged from this place over five days in early August as we staffed a camp for foster children through Royal Family Kids Camp and our local church, Cornerstone West LA. I was one of two camp nurses, and my husband served as Dean of Men to support the male volunteers. We don’t know specific details of the trauma, abuse, neglect, abandonment and instability each of the 28 children have endured, but we saw the profoundly painful consequences. Kids trying to be normal kids in one moment, triggered by sometimes hidden catalysts, became wildly agitated in the next moment, full of fury, confusion and dysregulation in response to their dysregulated childhood. Sometimes it lasted a few minutes, sometimes a couple of hours. Sometimes we watched one group play while we heard one child howl in the distance as his counselors worked to console his young heart.
It felt as though the darkness of their stories rose up like towering trees, threating to eclipse all the little lives in the campground.
But I watched as our team opened their hearts wide open with the light of God’s unwavering, unconditional, relentless, strong and tender love in Jesus Christ. They took blows from the children and absorbed their pain, and came back with hugs, affirmation, presence and mercy. In both words and action, our team told the children, “You can hit me but I will still love you.” Day after day, the team would play with the children, take more blows, and come back to love the children again.
This was the light that shone in the darkness all week. The light that says evil does not always triumph over good, fury does not always triumph over peace, selfishness does not always triumph over sacrificial love. For five days, I watched our team shine the bright light of Christ into the darkness. And though the time felt much too short, I believe with all my heart that these five days gave the children hope that light can in fact exist in their dark world, and that light can break through the darkness.
The next time you see that out of control child in the park, in the market, at school, on the street, will you love them with the love of Christ? Will you extend to them kindness in place of judgment? You don’t know their story, but you can shine light into their world.