Dusty almost didn’t make it to camp, but I’m so glad he did. He was the last camper to arrive because his mom didn’t have a car and couldn’t find anyone to bring him. Finally, a neighbor agreed to provide transportation, and Dusty arrived at check-in with a huge, heavy duffle bag slung over his shoulder. Little did I know, he was also carrying some deep emotional baggage.
Dusty and I spoke several times over the first few days, but it was after chapel one night that he really opened up to me. He asked if I would pray with him about his relationship with his father.
We sat down to talk, and Dusty confessed that the relationship was not good. He shared how his dad had left him and his mom on their own, living in poverty, surviving on food stamps. Dusty had hoped to maintain a relationship with his dad even after the divorce, but his dad didn’t seem interested.
Once, when Dusty was just 11, his dad handed him some weed and told him to smoke it. Dusty’s head dropped low as he shared this with me, and he picked at his worn-out sneakers. “I know I shouldn’t have done it,” he said, “but I just really wanted my dad to like me.” He began to weep as he shared some of the vicious, abusive things his dad said to him the last time they saw each other.
My heart broke for Dusty, and I shared with him that, even though he felt like his dad had abandoned him, his Heavenly Father would never leave him. “God can fill the void,” I said, “and He can heal the pain.” Dusty nodded.
Together we prayed that the Lord would step into Dusty’s life, mend his broken heart, and reassure him that he is valuable, important, and wanted. We also prayed that God would draw his father to a place of repentance and someday restore their relationship. At the end of the week, Dusty stood before the entire assembly of campers and made a public confession of faith in Jesus Christ and was baptized in our swimming pool.
As Dusty was leaving at the end of that day, he came to me to say goodbye. He dropped his heavy duffle bag on the floor with a thud and wrapped both arms around me in a big hug. He thanked me for giving him a great week of camp and for praying with him. When he picked up that duffle bag again, he walked out with a smile on his face and a spring in his step because now his heart was free.
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I would love to send you a free, autographed copy of my book, Footsteps of Faith. This ministry autobiography shares some incredible stories of God's hand at work in my life, at South Mountain Christian Camp, and in the lives of our campers. To receive your free copy, place your order through the link below. No purchase is required. Donations are deeply appreciated.