“I am your Creator. You were in my care even before you were born.”
Isaiah 44:2 (CEV)
Ten-year-old, TYM camper and THRIVE Youth Academy student, Ryan Wong’s life was taken June 2, 2017 by drunk driver.
This summer at camp we have the distinct privilege of sharing how God doesn’t play dice with our lives. Everything about us has a purpose even within the most difficult things in life that we must all face. These unfortunate circumstances test our resolve and conviction about the vital work TYM has been called and commissioned to do. This is compelling for us because the at-risk children we serve have suffered tremendous set-backs with a legacy of trauma.
Additionally, we are painfully reminded that the high school team leaders we serve are not exempt from hardships and brokenness. Our camping program is becoming more centrally focused around meeting their specific needs as well. TYM’s goal is to infuse purpose and meaning into hearts of both kids and team leaders.
We take courage that we have had the opportunity to encourage and inspire Ryan, as well as other kids and team leaders, with what the Bible tells us: “God is love.” It doesn’t say God has love…He is love! Love is the essence of God’s character because He is a God of love. We were created as a special object of God’s love! This simple truth is foundational for TYM’s camping philosophy that we are building upon.
A few of our staff and Boys camp leaders were able to attend Ryan’s funeral. Billy shared how Ryan’s life touched everyone who came into his orbit. It was especially cool to see how happy his mother and family members were to share Ryan’s story and how it aligned with TYM’s story, which ultimately became God’s story. We shared with all those attending the funeral a video interview that we produced with Ryan that tells of the joy he experienced with all of us one week in June. Thanks to you, our TYM partners, a life changing event is made possible. We believe Ryan was transformed in those precious moments we shared together. Every night he sat at the edge of the stage intently listening to the message that was shared of God’s Love and amazing Grace. Almost every night after club he’d ask questions about God’s love and shared the details of his life with his team leaders in an intimate setting we call cabin time.
We are convinced now more than ever before that God’s hand is leading TYM and that we’ve been called for a purpose to do a vitally important work of leading kids and families to the feet of Jesus Christ, in the quest toward improving their lives. Our impact and effectiveness has life and death consequences so we must go boldly into tough neighborhoods and communities where violence is a normal occurrence and sometimes into homes where discord and brokenness exist. We can’t afford to be afraid and draw back to avoid confrontation. We must press forward until we reach the finish line. We must go with joy and confidence because we know that thousands of kids like Ryan are waiting to be found and because God compels us to GO!