Thursday, June 23, 2016

"The Fierce 9"

It was the last night of camp and I had run out of coping techniques. The group of girls who had set their cabin on edge all week were out of control. It’s always on the last night of camp; the kids with the greatest fears act out the most. They act out because they don’t want to go back to the way things are back home. After chapel we isolated the group of girls now known as “The Fierce 9” straight to their cabin to settle down away from the rest of the campers. Emotions were broiling; they didn’t know who to take their anger out on. I stood my ground by the door explaining that they would have to calm down if they were going to enjoy the rest of the evening. They shouted in protest, they called me names. Then a punch was thrown into the wall, leaving a fist shaped hole in the sheetrock.

I had spent the last three nights after chapel with these girls. I shared the hidden stash of Gatorades and crackers. In our group time they had the freedom to speak their minds and be rambuxious, but the conversation would always end on a serious note. No matter how tough these girls tried to act and how loud they were, the truth was that they were all wounded, scared and hurting.

Just listening to the way they described their life and the people in it who had hurt them broke my heart. Any one of the experiences they shared would be enough to harden the softest of hearts. The saddest thing I heard was the confession from many of the girls that they feel out of control emotionally most of the time and are afraid of the way their anger is destroying their life.

They needed to hear that despite their circumstances and what has been done to them; they can have peace with God through Jesus. As they grow in Him they will see the life giving fruit of Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self Control. They heard this truth all week long as they participated in the camp activities and they heard it again from me. We could all see that a very real spiritual battle was raging in their hearts as they wrestled with the decision to turn their lives over to God.

To be honest, when the angry girl threw a punch into the wall, narrowly missing my face, it took an extra measure of the Holy Spirit to keep from losing control myself. Pastor Chad and Mrs. Tonya came to my rescue.  

Together, Chad and I loaded up the girls in the van and took them to buy the supplies needed to patch the hole in the wall of their cabin. Instead of the radio, for entertainment on the hour-long country drive to Guymon we called mom, after mom, after grandma to explain how their daughters were behaving. By the time we got back to camp all the “tough girls” had disappeared. There was a new air of humility and meekness.

Everyday for the last two weeks since we’ve been back from camp, the same girls have been up and ready at 8:00 A.M. for the church bus. They have been serving on mission with us  delivering lunches. On Thursday I got a text from the mother of the girl who threw the punch. She said, “Miss Anna, my daughter will not be able to volunteer tomorrow. She came home from camp and asked for help with her anger. I am taking her to her first counseling appointment in the morning. God Bless!!”

         We thank God for His Word, and the power it has to transform hearts for those receive it. Thank you for praying and supporting the work at Mission OKC. May we continue to see these young people set free.