Tragically, we heard this week of yet another celebrity suicide. Even more tragic are the suicides taking place every day around the world, especially amongst our military community. Which brings me to a story from the days I was a volunteer camp counselor.
It was the summer of ’84 when I volunteered to be a camp counselor at a little Christian camp called Harvest Ranch (now called Harvest Christian Camp). It’s located on a farm east of Indianapolis in the middle of a corn field. If you didn’t know it was there, you would probably drive right by.
At the time, the camp was run by a couple who owned the land and were retired pastors. They recruited ORU and Rhema students to volunteer in the summer. That’s how I heard about them and felt the tug to go.
Every week, they hosted a new set of kids ranging from, seven to 12 years old. I often had the eight-year-old boys to take care of. What a great age to be a kid too.
In the middle of the camp, was a red barn. By just looking at it, you might think it was home to horses and hay. But, when you went through the front barn doors, you could quickly see that it was a large sanctuary with carpet, instruments, and a stage.
The red barn (sanctuary) was where we held our nightly ‘round ups’ with the kids. We led them in worship, skits, and, every so often, a message from one of us counselors.
About half-way through the summer, I had been picked to preach the message on a Thursday night. We ended up having the service in the cafeteria for some reason. I don’t remember now what I spoke about, but it was a message of hope and that God had a calling for each and every one of them.
After the message, when the kids would ask for prayer, I felt there was someone there who was in deep sorrow and pain. I spoke out about what I’d felt and prayed for the unknown young person and went onto pray for others.
After a few minutes, I couldn’t get them off my mind and asked if that person wanted to come forward for prayer. They did. Come to find out, it was a brother and sister who were both at the camp that week. They were both crying and in pain when they came forward.
The counselor with them told me they had both witnessed their mother and father kill themselves just a week before coming to the camp. My heart broke. We all gathered around them, prayed, and just loved on them.
I learned later that they were sent to the camp by their grandparents who needed to get them out of that environment, so they could handle things. Also, hoping they would be blessed and helped at the camp.
Needless to say, I’ll never forget that. I couldn’t imagine seeing something like that as a child. They had no way to understand why. They could barely talk about it. Thankfully, they had loving grandparents to take care of them.
Sadly, these things happen more often than we would like to admit. Help is available if people can muster the courage to reach out. Too often, they don’t.
I tell that story today to highlight that there is hope. There are people who care. There are resources to help if you find yourself in a position where you think there is no hope. I’ve been there myself. When I lost everything over a false allegation, believe me, the enemy of my soul told me many times just to end it.
Thankfully, Jesus was there to give my heart hope, healing, and strength to press on. He used friends and family to support me as well. Without Him, I truly don’t know where I would be today.
If you’re there today, I want to encourage you to take a step and make a call. I’ll post a number below that you can call anytime and the person on the other end will pray with you. If that’s not you, I want to encourage you to learn the signs of deep depression, so you may notice them in a loved one, or friend, before it’s too late.
Here are two great numbers you can call my friend:
1-800-273-8255 * (National Suicide Prevention Hotline)
CBN: (800) 700-7000
Love always my friends,