Teens who for various reasons, are not able to live with their biological parents, and find themselves Dependents of the Court System, are often labeled by various terms: at-risk youth, group home kids, troubled teens, juvenile delinquents. In many ways, Proverbs 13:12 best describes most foster youth: “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but desire fulfilled is a tree of life.” The common experience of the vast majority of these kids is that of deep heartbreak due to disappointment, and therefore lost hope. The very people that God intended to love them unconditionally; have let them down, and it’s made their hearts sick and in deep pain. What they need more than anything is a glimmer of hope!
James 1:27 reminds us of the simplicity of true ministry: “to visit the orphan… in their distress… and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Kids who are today a part of the state foster system, are the modern day orphan. Some are truly without parents or family. Others are from homes where they’re experience physical and/or sexual abuse or neglect. Others have parents who have chosen drug use over good parenting, and/or one or more parents are in prison. According to James 1, these kids need people who are willing to spend significant time with them. Short of actually becoming a foster parent, spending time with hurting kids at camp is the quickest and most effective way to let them know that there is hope… that someone cares… that even if they don’t know or trust God, that someone who does trust God, cares about them in a meaningful way!
As a Chaplain for Olive Crest Homes for Children for the past 26 years, and having attended several Teen Leadership Foundation Camps, I can highly recommend this ministry of hope and rescue. Their philosophy of love, acceptance, safety and community provides an amazingly unique environment that even the most resistant teen usually ends us thoroughly enjoying their weekend at camp!
We at Olive Crest have had the blessing of having dozens of our youth attend TLF camps for the past several years, and God willing, will do so for years to come!
When a young man or woman emancipates, many remain either close or distant member of our Olive Crest family. As the Chaplain, I have the great blessing of hearing from some our former youth, sometimes years after they have moved on. As we reminisce, they will seldom mention a Super Bowl Party or an Outreach Event, but almost without fail, the memories of camp will surface. Like most of us, the specifics of the “normal” days of their teen years will blend together, but something that stands out clearly, is a weekend away from the normal day-to-day world, in a beautiful setting, surrounded by people who seem nicer than humanly possible… which is exactly right! Because it is God in them, listening, playing, loving and treating them like they desperately need to be treated!
I can not think of a better camping experience to invest in the lives of hurting kids… their earthly future, as well as their eternal destiny!
Everyone can do something: the existence of Teen Leadership Foundation is a Godsend! To join with this effort is to join with God, loving the fatherless! Start today:DONATE NOW!
Most sincerely, Frank Fried, Olive Crest Chaplain