Saturday morning a group of students in my community were scheduled to leave for a week of camp with Young Life's Capernaum ministry (for high school students with special needs). One of our college leaders, Lori, showed up at 17 year old Eve's apartment as planned to give her a ride to the bus. As she knocked on the door she was greeted by Eve's grandmother, Mrs. Jones, a strong-willed 71 year old widow with a cane. She explained that Eve was not going to be able to go to camp after all, as the family had been evicted and she needed to stay and help them move. Lori knew Eve is one of three mentally handicapped people living in the apartment being cared for by Mrs. Jones--and the most capable. Looking around the apartment, she knew Mrs. Jones couldn't handle this move without help.
Lori was crushed. She had loved on Eve all year through monthly club meetings. She had helped raise the scholarship money for Eve to attend camp--and she was so looking forward to accompanying Eve for a week full of sights, sounds, adventure, laughter and love at camp. Quick-thinking Lori had an idea.
"Mrs. Jones, if you let Eve come with me to camp this morning, I promise I will send people over today to help you move."
Lori was leaving town for camp too, but she trusted and believed in the Lord's provision--and her community's commitment to seeing Eve get to camp.
A text message was sent and within an hour Mrs. Jones had a moving truck and a crew of helpers. Despite the June-in-Georgia humidity and the short notice, by 5pm the contents of her three bedroom apartment, including medical beds and equipment had been moved to her temporary residence and a secure storage facility.
All while Eve and her leader Lori were carefree and on their way to hear about the God that loves them so.
As we were driving away Saturday afternoon I asked my 14 year olds (who honestly were age-appropriate in their less-than-thrilled response to moving strangers on a day they'd planned to spend in other ways) to tell me one thing they learned. Each reply was proof that God was using this situation in more ways than I had known, but the one that struck me most was from my daughter:
"I will never forget that all those people were willing to show up and work that hard just so one girl can hear about Jesus."
We talked about the Parable of the Lost Coin and the Parable of the Lost Sheep and I pray they will never hear those two passages in the same way again.
I am so incredibly grateful for the ministry of Young Life. It is not just about pies in faces or preaching from a stage. This ministry is truly incarnational--entering into the (messy, complicated, challenging) lives of teenagers and really loving them like Jesus would--meeting practical needs so their hearts can be open to Him meeting their spiritual needs.
Eve is at camp this week, hearing the glorious news of the One who sacrificed not just his Saturday, but his Life so she can be free. Connections were made for meaningful friendship and support of her extended family. This is not the end of this story, just the beginning. Will you join me in praying for this family and Eve's heart?