A glimpse into the Community of TLF

As I arrived at camp Saturday prior to our evening chapel time I was greeted by long term volunteers. We don’t go into “Hello, How are you?”  or the typical “What is new?”  Instead the conversation goes straight into matters of the heart.

Jeremy begins the evening with letting me know how the group home his life group does a Bible study with are all at camp and are having some great conversation. He lets me know that Debra “one of the youth in the homes” with childlike love has a simple ask; “will you adopt me?”  As Jeremy and I stand unpacking the youth pile out for a quick game of Frisbee.

I see a longtime advocate and friend Gina; she goes into a larger conversation of our nation’s values and how we need to take hold as a faith community and make moves on value correcting. We dive into this as she shares some of the youth’s story she has been sharing the weekend with.

We are told its time to head to chapel; the worship and speaking team is ready. As we arrive I run into a board member who attends camp every year. Our engagement entry point is about how a few youth and a group of men spend 2 hours that day talking about purgatory.

I glance over and see that part of the worship team is a man that I volunteered almost 10 years ago with. Our eyes connect and we have an easy greeting;   “I have missed this camp; what powerful stories have unfolded in my own life from these weekends”

I take a place near the back of the amphitheater and gaze to the huge sky sparkled with sporadic stars. I drift off to creation and begin a journey of my own until I am startled by the sound that is around me all singing:

He is jealous for me..loves like a hurricane I am a tree…

I feel a whisper in my spirit and become settled from all the conversations that took place prior being reminded we are drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes.

The transition to the speaker eventually happens…

The message on our identity and being adopted into Christ as His own child was a great transition from the night prior around Grace and the meaning of.

It was a short message as Joanna; a former foster youth was invited to come share her story with the youth. She talks about seeing her mom being murdered and she herself dropped off on a street corner by a strange man; the spending ages of 8-15 in foster care and being adopted by a sexually abusive family. She tells of how he used to tell her she was not worth anything. She lets the youth know of her powerful new life in Jesus, her masters in Psych and her life now. But then….

She calls the youth down to the stage… I watch as they all take the journey down the huge sandy steps of the amphitheater with curiosity. They form a circle and as they do she tells them. “We sang one of my favorite songs tonight and she asks them to join her in the chorus.”

There they stand holding hands singing “Oh how he loves me” Oh how he loves me so”

I am moved flooded with tears. But then I am interrupted by the heaving crying behind me. I look and a volunteer is in the arms of a friend. I see a Sr. volunteer headed over so I engage back to the circle of youth now all streaming with tears as well.   She was a new volunteer being impacted by this nations crisis of youth in foster care. Her heart is forever changed.

Joanna sends them off with a circle of love and as they head back to their seats I hear shouts “more worship”  “more worship” coming from sounds of campers.

The guitar starts up and I see movement of volunteers and youth headed down to the fire pit and begin gathering around in a circle all hugging and singing.….

Oh how He loves US … Oh how He loves Us

Grateful for this journey,

Lisa Castetter; Founder TLF