Musana Camps was a busy place last week! We had a two-day youth camp from a school in Kampala at the beginning of the week, three families staying in the guest house later in the week, and a week-long ROPES (Rites Of Passages ExperienceS) camp for Investment Year (IY) students from New Hope Uganda, which was going on as the other campers came and went. As the staff met together before the week began, we talked about being prepared for “teachable moments,” times when the Holy Spirit was doing a work in a person’s heart and we as staff could come alongside and be part of that work. The week was indeed a bit crazy for our staff trying to juggle the different needs of the different groups, but God also answered our prayers for teachable moments. Here is one that we personally got to be a witness to…
Tuesday afternoon, Nathan and I both helped to lead the youth campers through some of the elements at our low-ropes course. Being only 10-13 years old, some of the elements were quite a challenge to them. In their first challenge, the girls all fell off the course several times and had to start over. As they finally began to conquer the difficult sections of the course, they one by one made it to the finishing tree and tried to encourage their teammates that came behind them. The last girl to complete the course fell off the wire several more times before finishing, partly due to carelessness on her part and partly due to carelessness on the part of her teammates trying to "help" her finish.
As we discussed the challenges and lessons we could learn from our activity, several people answered with normal things like “teamwork” and “helping one another” and such. After a few minutes, I heard the one that had finished last mumble something off to the side, so I asked her to repeat her answer so we could all hear. She was a little embarrassed and didn’t want to talk at first, so I pressed her a little to be honest and share with the group. Finally, she said, “I am a failure.”
Wow. I was a bit shocked by her honesty, and everyone else was quiet for several seconds. Inside I wanted to shout, “No! That’s a lie!” She began to cry and a friend of hers went over to comfort her.
I asked the group to tell me the difference between failing and being a failure. It was an interesting discussion that followed. Many of them wanted to say that we are not a failure as long as we keep trying when we fail or as long as we have friends around us to support us. In other words, just try harder or just make sure people like you and stand by you. But I pushed them further than that…what if you find you can’t try again? (you don’t always get to re-take a test!) Or what if you find yourself all alone? Then, does that make you a failure?
Our hearts are so often deceived by the father of lies. We believe that making mistakes in what we DO says something about the value of who we ARE. Yes, we are sinners, separated from God; and we need God’s gift of salvation through Jesus to bring us back into a right relationship with Him. So, without Christ, we will always come to a point of failure.
But we are also “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14). “Wonderful are His works” - He didn’t make mistakes as He was making you! And even when we were separated from God by our sin nature, we were loved by Him before we were saved (Romans 5:8). Our VALUE as human beings rests not in ourselves, but in the love and craftsmanship of the Almighty God.
So, I took the opportunity to speak truth to this young girl in front of her peers - “You are loved. You are beautiful. The King of kings desires for you to be His child.” - and to pray over her, asking God to speak His truth into her heart. Mistakes do not change these truths. Mistakes should only draw us closer to the God who created us and loves us and desires to speak His truth in our hearts. I
That was one teachable moment that I was able to be part of last week. And I pray that God used those moments in the challenge course to transform the lives of those young girls with His truth.