Its All Real, Its All True

Those were the words going into Yamel's ears and sinking into her heart and mind as she wept after hearing the cross talk for the first time at camp. When we got to camp she wanted nothing to do with us or camp or ANYBODY. She was experiencing unconditional love for the first time and wanted nothing to do with it. She had no interest in cabin time, or handing her baby off to someone she didn’t know, or answering when you asked her a question, or saying thank you when you poured her a drink at dinner.  She was closed off, angry, and wanted nothing to do with Jesus. That all changed Day 4, as the girls had just heard how Jesus came to love them and die for them. Yamel walked out weeping and said, “ I have never known a love like that before.” Peyton held her while echoing quietly, “It’s all real…It’s all true.” Yamel laid her head in Peyton’s arms and wept. “Jesus cannot love you any more or any less than He does right now in this moment. When he looks at you he doesn’t see your brokenness or hurt or shame.”  “ I never knew my life had meaning,” Yamel stated. This was the first time Yamel had begun to open her heart to a relationship with Jesus.

​Liz Corder - Young Lives Staff ​​​

​​Over the course of this past school year, Ezia and I have formed a friendship that would be impossible outside of the power of Jesus Christ. I have tutored her in Algebra, refused to let her drive my car, bought her McDonalds a trillion times, and shared the love of Christ with her. I have prayed on my knees through tears for her to begin a relationship with Jesus. 

Because she loved fall weekend, she was determined to come to summer camp. When summer school threatened to prevent her from coming to camp, she said, “Miss, I’m skipping summer school. Ain’t nothin’ stopping me from camp.” 

Thankfully, Ezia did come to camp this summer (without skipping summer school). I was continually surprised by her reaction to camp. On the first night, all of the campers go through a pretty rigorous obstacle course (an event I felt certain Evia would HATE). At the end, she said to me, “Miss, we should do that obstacle course every night!” I was shocked.

Halfway through the week, our cabin went horseback riding. Ezia had been looking forward to it all week, constantly asking me when it would be our turn. When we arrived at the horses, Ezia took one look at the enormous wild animal facing her, and said, “Oh H*** no.” After much persuasion, I convinced her to ride. She mounted her horse, yelped as it started moving, and got in line with the rest of our cabin. Not even three minutes into the trail, I heard a scream, a thud, and “Ezia just fell off the horse.”

My heart dropped. Did she break her back? Would she be able to walk? Would she want to leave camp?  It turns out Ezia was fine. She got up, and we started back towards the horse barn to check out her injuries. As the EMT was wrapping up her ankle, Ezia said to me, “I want to go again.” I was floored, yet again. ARE YOU SERIOUS!? You just fell off a horse you were already terrified of!!!!! You would go again?

By the end of the week, Ezia had heard and was processing the problem of sin and the God-sized hole that is in her heart. She wrote down her thoughts: “Physically, I’m found. But through life I’m lost. I wanna be found and kept.” I asked Ezia if she wanted to begin a relationship with Jesus. She said yes. I explained to her the cost of following Jesus. I told her Jesus would want to change her heart, was she willing for that to happen? She said yes.  It was a week of risks after all.  

Ezia doesn’t understand all of the theology behind her sin and Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. But here is what she does know: she knows that she was lost; that life on her own wasn’t working, and that Jesus can change all that. 

Ezia is still a sassy, 16-year-old girl. However, now she has been adopted into the family of God, and I cannot wait to see how she grows.

- Emily Reiflin HHS leader


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