Camp Agape

iphone fall 2012 877Eighty percent of children of incarcerated parents in the US are bound to fall into the same footsteps as their parents and end up behind bars at some point in their lives. That’s 8 in every 10 kids. A few weeks ago, I was a part of something to help change that statistic for 151 children with incarcerated parents in Hawai’i.

Pastor Roy Yamamoto was once the equivalent of a drug lord on Oahu. Addicted to drugs to the point of costing him $1000 per day to feed his addiction, Roy was a man many would deem a lost cause. He has faced two life-sentences and by grace and a purpose only God could grant, was freed from those sentences and today helps to bring the freedom found in Christ’s love to children of the incarcerated every summer through Camp Agape, a part of New Hope’s prison ministry.

As much as I have tried to write out my experience there, my beautiful and talented friend wrote a piece that so beautifully encompasses my experience that weekend that there is no need to try and replicate it. So instead of my own words, enjoy this piece from a most beautiful soul, and a very dear friend of mine, Britta Johnson. Also checkout more of her talented work at britta-johnson.blogspot.com

Prisoners,

Do not worry about your child.

This weekend I met your daughter, and she broke my heart with her smile. You know the one; that wide grin that breaks like dawn across her face and crinkles her eyes nearly shut.

I plopped down next to your little boy on the beach, knees tucked up into his oversized camp shirt, and coaxed him into the water where he surfed for the first time, letting out a scream of pure joy when he felt what it was to walk on water.

Do not worry about your child.

This weekend I prayed for your daughter. She sat in the crowd and listened as men and women shared stories of how they found God in prison, and she wondered why you hadn’t come home changed.

Your son came up to me, asked if I wanted to color with him. And we were friends, easy as that. You see, we thought we were teaching him how to love and trust, but he was the one teaching us.

Do not worry about your child.

My toes are still black from where your daughter slid across a soapy wet tarp to circle the word “cheese” on a word find before her opponent. She won, just so you know, and she got to pour liquid cheese on the girl who lost. But just to show no hard feelings, the cheesy girl hugged your daughter right after, to many squeals and laughter of protest.

Your son’s new friends cheered him on and kept him safe as he scaled a wooden tower this weekend. He made it all the way to the top and looked out at the ocean, and he wished you had seen him do it.

Do not worry about your child.

Your little girl raised her hand today, and she gave her life to Jesus. When we prayed for you together, she felt so small in my arms as her body racked with silent sobs. But she has strength in the Lord, now; and He will never let her go, as I had to today.

Your little boy received the love of Christ today, and his eyes were bright and streaming with tears as he prayed for you with his new friends. God won’t leave his side, like we must. And he may be lonely, but he will never be alone again.

Do not worry about your child. Because, you see, they don’t need your worry. They need your prayer. For strength. And love, hope, trust, peace. She pushed the world aside today and grabbed Jesus’ hand, and for that, she was thankful for you being where you are, so she could be where she was. Do not worry about your child, because he knows that it matters not where he came from, but where he goes. Pray he continues to walk with God. But do not worry; the love of God reflected in your child’s eyes today, and that will never leave.

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