Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Pine Cove 2009

I'm sitting here after a long, exhausting week, trying to think of how to summarize our time at Pine Cove. How to wrap it up for you in a post that would give you a picture of what it was like being there with 110 kids from Mercy Street.

Lots of these kids, who when filling out a camp application, will never reference a father, who have mom's in jail for selling crack, who have brothers in gangs, and pregnant sisters, and rarely hear words of encouragement, of life, of hope.

Our week was amazing and pretty hard. It was hard because juxtaposed with the laughter, screams, singing, dancing, and watching kids get to be kids for a week, with full bellies and full hearts, we had kids who looked for a fight at every opportunity, who saw nothing but the moment directly in front of them and who did not understand that every action merits a consequence - good or bad.

By Wednesday, Trey was toast. Along with some of the counselors and Mercy Street staff, he'd been dealing almost constantly with some boys who went from one fight to the next and were pretty consistently disrespectful to their counselors. Trey was already planning a trip back to Dallas with some boys in tow so that they wouldn't ruin camp for the rest of the kids. Then, Wednesday night, after club, one of the boys came up to him with tears streaming down his face. "Mr. Trey, I don't want to live like this any more. I don't know how to stop but I hate my life and want to change."

That started a long conversation into the night between he, Trey, and another counselor about the gospel and the freedom that comes from Christ alone.

Ironically, that same night, we got a call that Mercy Street had been broken into. Talk about feeling attacked.

The week continued with both frustrations and really tender moments. We saw lots of kids conquer their fears on the power pole and the horses, or just swim and run and play.

Trey never took any of those older boys home, even though they deserved it, mostly because either their own counselors who had run dozens of lines with them, or the Mercy Street staff advocated for them.

Come Friday night, we had a time together called "Camper Share". It's where all the campers and counselors gather together to talk about how they liked the week and what they learned. It wasn't contrived or dramatic, simply a time where a kid was handed a mic. if they wanted to talk and everyone listened.

About 3/4 of the way into the camper share, one of the older boys stood up and talked about how much he'd learned that week about his sin, and the One who came to save him from it. Then he looked up at the ceiling in a desperate attempt not to cry in front of his buddies. Instead of breaking down there, he said excuse me and left the room - clearly touched by the Lord. His friends saw it too and slowly conviction spread like wildfire. They began to repent to their counselors and to Trey, and to express their desire to live lives wholly different than what they'd been living. And several of those older boys, walking on the precipice of gang life, cried arm in arm with one another and prayed.

Over and over again that night, counselors heard kids struggle with how to live the life they'd found in West Dallas. They knew they'd be confronted daily with people and circumstances that fly in the face of what they'd learned about the Lord and the love they'd seen in action.

Honestly, it won't be easy in a community where humility and sacrificial love can be hard to come by. But our hope for these kids remains unchanged. As we get the great privilege of watching the Lord melt their hearts of stone one by one, we are also affirmed in our call to see West Dallas become a light on a hill - or, to be more specific, a light on the other side of the levee - covered in God's fingerprints.

These are some of the pictures from camp. It's a little long because I am editing challenged but the song is good so have a look and listen.

18 comments:

Kim said...

Melissa, the video says it's private and in order to view I must accent some kind of invitation? I'm rather technologically inept and not sure what to do to make it work.

Loved hearing about how God broke down walls and tenderized hearts. Only He can! We share truth, we share love, but only He can work in hearts. Hallelujah for what he did in the lives of these young people. Will be praying for them and you!

Anonymous said...

How moving - crying tears of sadness, joy, and hope. Praying for you and the ministry God has chosen for you.

Henley on the Horn said...

I wept. I wept both at God's mercy and grace and at the tenacity and love you and Trey should those boys this week. Wow. Thank you for sharing and for what you are letting God use you for in West Dallas. Amen! To God be the Glory!!!

Holli said...

beautiful. awesomely beautiful.

Jill said...

I am sure laundry, and just sheer tiredness will rule your life for a few days, but honey, I had to take time to say thanks on behalf of every mother who believes yet does not find time to give into others. I love how you and Trey and your kids are called into this ministry. It is a group effort. Not only will your kids be changed for a lifetime, all those smiling faces will hold onto a piece of our Lord and Saviour from their week at Pine Cove. Forever, they will talk about riding the horse or jumping off the pole and a million other things. You are amazing. For real. By the way I love the "Lines" post...it has ran through my mind a number of times as I have disciplined my kids recently. Undeserved mercy. Incredible. Thanks.

Kristin said...

Tears rolling down my face, even before watching the slideshow! Praising God for being the REMEDY he is being before your very eyes and ours. Thank you and trey for serving west dallas and sharing it with us!

Caroline said...

Melissa, I am not sure I can put into words how this recap encouraged my heart this morning! Praise the Lord for what he has done and what he will continue to do. I will be continuing to pray for you guys as you continue to walk and do life with these kids and for them as they reenter their worlds. I always loved, coming home from camps like this, the reality that God is the same- yesterday and today, at camp and at home, that he is powerfully present both at Pine Cove and W. Dallas. Will be praying you continue to see evidences of his power and grace! I love you friend!

Pam from alertandorientedx4 said...

wow...God must be so proud of all his kids...wow...amazed and speechless...what a priviledge for you to be able to be a part and a blessing that you share with us. THIS is what it's about...or supposed to be anyway.

Dawn @ P.S.He loves you.. said...

What a testimony of GOD's love for us and through each of you!

I'm here by way of "Living my Best life!" She's right your blog post was very up lifting today!!

Traci said...

Glad you're home and it was a worthwhile week! "Joe" is back on the team - the seniors voluntarily "paid his debt" for him- thanks for the idea- it is literally the talk of the school right now- very interesting to hear how other kids are reacting to this- be sure and tell Trey the lesson made it to Tennessee.

Becca said...

Oh I love this! What a blessing that God touched so many hearts. I know all too well the juxtaposition of frustration over hard hearts and joy over tender, new, soft hearts . . . i just love me some camp with my kiddos! :-)

ps - did you get my email?

Sheryl said...

wow - i love what your family is doing. love what God is doing through you.

praying for the hearts of those who were at camp. praying that they will turn towards God when the world is right in their face. it's hard for me to do and i don't face what they do!

thank you so much for sharing this.

Jess said...

Amazing. Simply Amazing.

Praying as they reenter Dallas carrying LIFE!

pendy said...

God is amazing and I so admire the way your family heeds his call. I will be praying for those kids as they go back to their reality, that they will keep within them the light that's been ignited. Bless you and thank you for sharing.

Sarah said...

Melissa, I don't know you and I totally discovered this blog by blog-stalking (clicking from one blog to another -- sorry if that's sketch!), but I'm so thankful I did. My roommate and I are both teachers in an inner-city Boston middle school, and reading your stories about the kids at Mercy Street and your kids gives me so much joy and hope about the work God could do in my students' lives. I teared up today reading this post. I just ache for those kids' hearts, and I wish my students had the opportunity y'all are giving them to be at camp (so fun!!) but also hearing the gospel. It also reminded me of how often I don't hope and pray enough for the gospel to transform my kids, and me -- it seems too daunting, but your story made me want to pray harder. Thanks for loving them well, and for encouraging me by sharing; I'll be praying for West Dallas all the way up here in the north, and praising God that he is at work in your community and in mine.

Misty said...

that's awesome, love the pic and all those smiling faces. Thanks for sharing the week...Glory to God in the highest! He is awesome and my heart was so touched hearing about those hearts of stone being melted while ya'll were there. <3 in Him!

Karin Katherine said...

Wow. All I can say is simply wow. I was so moved by your post. The power of God and the amazing opportunity given to these young precious children.

Abby said...

Beautiful Melissa! Wow, what a week. It's so obvious that the Lord's hand is right in the middle of Mercy Street. He's using it to touch so many lives.