A few weeks ago, we took a group of our teen girls away for a 2 day Leadership Conference at a nearby state park.  I have known most of these girls since elementary school and have had the opportunity to watch them grow and mature over the last number of years.

As I watched the girls in the pool on our first night playing Marco Polo, Monkey in the Middle, and Pencil, Splits, Cannonball, it hit me that they were acting like little girls; little girls who didn’t have a care in the world.

That may not seem unusual to most of you, but for these girls…it is.  You see, these girls have grown up in an environment where they have had to see and experience the adult world very early. The days of being a little girl were few and far between.

As I looked at the group of young ladies in the pool, I realized that their collective experiences include raising and caring for younger siblings, fleeing persecution and genocide, watching parents be hauled off to jail, caring for drug addicted parents, being removed from their homes and placed in the homes of relatives, surviving sexual assault, moving to a new country where they do not speak the language or understand the culture, fathers who have abandoned them, domestic violence, family members with mental illness, food insecurity, and housing insecurity.

These experiences have taught them that the world we live in is not safe and is not on their side.  I don’t remember that being on the top ten list of things I wanted to teach my children when they were small. It is a sobering reality.

But, as I watched them splashing and playing I remembered why I was there…but God.

 But God “came that they (these little girls) may have life and have it abundantly. 

God can cut through all of the mess and violence and trauma these girls have experienced and bring them the hope of a new life here and for all eternity.  He can restore broken relationships, heal damaged hearts, fill empty stomachs, and open closed doors and I have the privilege of walking with them on their journey.  It is not always easy and there are many days when I wonder if I am making a difference at all, but every so often God gives me a little glimpse of the transformation that is happening in their lives.  A little glimmer of hope. Watching them play in the water was one of those glimmers, and that little glimmer was enough to keep in the fight for another day.

If you would like to learn more about becoming part of a Mentorship or Support Team through JCLC, please visit our website www.joshuacalebleaders.org or reach out to Amy directly at amy@joshuacalebleaders.org.