The joy of serving those that are grateful


Dear Friends:
This blog might result in a few folks blocking my future messages, but I hope not. I never write these narratives to deliberately offend anyone, and if they are ever directed at an individual, that person is Dean Barley—no one else!
But this past weekend I enjoyed some youth in a way I have not for many years.  A former camper who is now a pastor sent six young men and two staff from his church to visit us this weekend. They youth were 13-15 years old and were probably from disadvantaged families.  But not that you could tell that from the manner in which they conducted themselves, or how they dressed or how they communicated.  In fact, I have rarely seen such well behaved young men come to our camp in a long time.
There was a time (when I first began leading a camp 38 years ago) that all the campers were under-privileged.  The staff that served them all came from wealthy families, but the campers were all from inner-city homes in Raleigh. 
Those campers touched my heart and the hearts of our staff so profoundly that our camp was spiritually set on fire—-it served as the genesis for the camp we have now. Today, sadly , we don’t serve many inner city kids and we are poorer because of it!  But if God is willing that might change this summer.
I don’t think that less affluent children are any more deserving of the gospel than any other child. Christ died for the rich, the poor and the in-between. But I was reminded this weekend of the great pleasure it is to serve children that
are unabashedly and demonstrably grateful and appreciative of what is given to them. 
These boys never stopped thanking me and our staff and even left notes expressing their love and gratitude.  They wanted to help us work, take a drive in the Jeep, look at the new house under construction, “drive to the end of the property”, and simply be with me and the other staff. They craved our presence, listened to our words, were responsive to our requests and volunteered to help clean up, set up and do what was not required of them.
Again, if you think I am writing this to point out how ungrateful and spoiled your child is, believe me,  I am not putting that idea in your head!  But I will say that most of the parents I know raise children that they can love but the rest of us
often have a hard time loving.  That’s not to say that we don’t love every entitled child that comes through the camp’s gates, but how refreshing it is to have some kids come here that don’t complain, whine, avoid conversation or turn into
zombies in front of an iPad.
These boys were unashamed to love, get corrected, display an eagerness to learn and were full of excitement. Such are those that would enter in the Kingdom of God.  Parents: raise and train children that we can all  can love!  Don’t give them too much—let them be grateful when they receive something small; don’t convince them that they are the center of creation—-introduce them to the One who really is; don’t do everything for them—-let them learn the joy and purposefulness of work and chores; and please teach and demand from them courtesy and kindness—they will go much further much faster and you will both be blessed.
I hope that God sends us 1000 young men like these from Raleigh. What a pleasure to serve those that are thankful.

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