Stephen’s Children recently concluded a summer filled with camping ministries in Greater Cairo and Upper Egypt. Below are stories of three children whose lives God changed at camp:
Although she is smaller than most third graders, Marian Salah carried incredible burdens. Her chronically ill father is unable to work and her mother works all day to support the family, so Marian and her five siblings were left to themselves. They spent most of their time on the streets succumbing to a host of bad influences.
Marian came to Stephen’s Children camp with great darkness in her life. This was clear from the foul language and lies that spewed from her tongue. She told her home visit leader that when her parents were not around, she allowed boys and girls from the alley to use her house to engage in sexual sin. She said this made her uncomfortable, but that the boys had intimidated her.
To make life more difficult, Marian is the primary care-taker for her infant nephew. His mother had abandoned him when Marian’s brother was imprisoned.
At camp, Marian listened to a talk about God’s love and forgiveness. She learned how He created us pure and enables us to keep our purity in Christ. She made the decision to stop letting those children into her home, and prayed for God to cleanse her tongue of lies and bad language.
“Jesus left his heavenly Kingdom and came to save me and suffered for my sake, so how do I do bad things to hurt Him again?” Marian said.
She trusted that Jesus will help her strop these bad things and will help her take care of the little nephew and bring up a good child of Jesus.
Mina prayed with showers of tears.
For the first time, he was confessing his sin before God and man. He told them about his depression – how he was angry at God for taking his father long ago, leaving their mother to work herself ragged.
“When I look at my mother and see her tears, I cannot stand it. So, I spent my time in the streets with my Muslim friends. We smoke. We cuss. We harass girls on their way out of the church.”
Mina shared his shame over his crooked spine – which had never been treated because they were too poor. He shared his guilt over stealing from his mother to smoke shisha in the coffee shops. Fourteen years of frustration, pain, poverty, and sin spewed forth from his heart.
His heart had been very hard when he came to camp, but the loving environment drew him out. Through his sobs, Mina felt the tender embrace of his Stephen’s Children leader. His heart lifted even higher when his leader told him that Jesus loves and accepts sinners who repent.
Mina left camp promising to take a step of manhood. He promised to quit smoking, go to church, and read the Bible. He wants to spend more time with his poor mother, and encourage her and other widows. Because he knows his Stephen’s Children leader visits weekly, Mina knows there is someone to hold him to his promises.
“Why did you bring this to camp?” Kyro’s leader asked, looking at the penknife the 14 year old was clutching. “It is against the rules, and besides, we all come here to have a good time.”
Kyro clutched the knife. He refused to give it up. He remembered what his older brother Atif had told him before he left for camp: “If anyone upsets you, just hit them with this.”
Mina said that all people were bad and couldn’t be trusted. Kyro believed him because, for years, that is exactly how Atif and their father had treated him. He was used to belittling and abuse from them, and camp was Kyro’s chance to make other children fear and respect him. Despite the leader’s attempts to take the knife away, Kyro refused.
Kyro’s heart needed to be disarmed before he would give up the knife, and that is exactly what happened.
Even though the staff knew he was carrying the weapon, they showered Kyro with love. After listening to Mama Maggie give a talk and participating in small group discussions, Kyro approached his leader to hand over the knife.
“I won’t need this,” he said, and he promised his leader that he was giving up bullying. He said he had learned that his worth didn’t come from being feared or respected, but by walking in all his ways with Jesus.