Recently I spent a week at a youth camp with an amazing group of 10-11 year olds. I, along with my daughters, spoke twice a day during this week of camp. We talked about keeping our hearts open and soft to the Lord, and seeking Him with an open heart FIRST. In all things we seek Jesus first. On the good days, the mundane days, and the bad days. At all times, in all things, seek the Lord! Then we began to talk about all the reasons why we want to do this. We talked about the following reasons:
- Jesus heals our hearts. He is our salvation from darkness!
- Jesus helps us overcome fear. He makes us brave!
- Jesus helps us to love and forgive our enemies
- Jesus helps us to honor and serve even those who do wrong to us
- Jesus gives our hearts joy and peace in all things
- Jesus loves us and the people that we love and care about. We bring them to Jesus for Him to help them.
Throughout the week we touched on some pretty heavy things like forgiveness and wounded parts of our hearts. We talked about how God does not come to us to condemn us, but to HEAL and SAVE and FORGIVE!! He is amazing like that!!
For much of the week it seemed we were just faithfully doing the lessons we had prepared to do with them, but we were not really sure how much they were taking into their hearts. Many children seemed rather guarded. We continued to pour into them, trusting the Lord to meet them in His own way and time.
Then came Thursday evening; our last evening session of the week. The children are always so attentive and respectful at this particular camp. The camp has created such a beautiful atmosphere there for the kids. The worship of that group of kids always moves me to tears. I got up to begin sharing. Every heart and mouth had settled in to listen.
I shared the story of the friends who brought their paralyzed buddy to Jesus to be healed. They dug a whole in the roof to lower this guy down in front of Jesus, and Jesus healed him!
At one point towards the end of the lesson, I invited the kids and counselors, and anyone who was present, to come forward and write down a name or a prayer or something to represent something or someone they want to carry to Jesus in prayer. Just like Jesus had seen his friends’ faith and helped the paralyzed man, He could see their faith too, and help their friends too. There was a large stretcher at the front of the room for them to write names and prayers on, and then I encouraged them to stay close for a few minutes and take time to pray with each other for the ones they were carrying.
A couple of folks began to kneel down to write and pray. Others began to join them. It was peaceful, sincere and beautiful. Within minutes the atmosphere had opened up and young ones began crying, opening their little hearts up before the Lord and with one another in prayer. It seemed that the ministry of Jesus to their hearts, underneath the surface throughout the whole week, came to a head in those moments, and the children’s hearts began to process His healing ministry for themselves and for those they carry.
At one point I looked around and there were groups of 2 or 3 crying and praying together all over the place. Others were moved with compassion for those they saw the Lord ministering to. One of the leaders of the camp had left to help a child earlier in the evening, and when he came back and saw what was happening, he leaned over to me and asked “What happened in here?” . All I could say was “It was the Lord, and kids just started opening up their hearts. That’s all I know.”
For nearly two hours this ministry went on.
So many children carry very weighty things. Things we don’t think any child should ever have to carry… many of them already have faced these things in their young lives. But we know that Jesus is close to their hearts. He really is! And He wants to heal them and lift the heavy burden off of them. And this is exactly what we experienced with these kids during this camp. His nearness to them was tangible, and He washed their hearts with His love and healing and strength. He is Lord and He is good. He wants to do more than we can even ask for in the lives of these children! And He is faithful to do so.
May we continually place each one before the Lord, trusting Him with every heart. Jesus, may children all over the world encounter Your face. May their hearts be ministered to by Your faithful presence and person with them. Thank You that You never leave them, but rather, You carry them, love them, heal them and delight in them every day of their lives. Father, meet each one in the cry of their heart for You.