“Faith is the virtue of which, by clinging to the faithful of God, we lean upon Him so that we can obtain what he give to us.”
A Journey of Faith
Eight years ago, I had some major life decisions to make. I finished the first year of a five-year graduate program to earn a Master’s degree in Public Health (MPH) and four years studying for my Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine (DVM). Others in the program lamented, “I can’t wait to stop talking about human medicine. You get it!” But I didn’t get it. We were constantly talking about maternal and child health, human suffering, global health crises, community development, and the reshaping of societies. My heart was growing, expanding, and stretching to love the plight of children worldwide. I wanted to spend my time being a moment of love, a beacon of hope, and a balm to their spirit bringing them the compelling reality of Jesus. How did I reconcile that with the fact that I was going to be a Vet? I kept thinking, “What if someone comes into my clinic and cares more about their pet than their child?” Irrational? Perhaps. I couldn’t shake the feeling that becoming a Vet would be parallel to what God had for me. But wasn’t I crazy to give up Vet school?
Finally, I knew that I had to call the vet school and tell them I would not be joining them. I found myself standing at a crossroad.
I prayed for the opportunity to work with children, dive into building something organic and life-giving, be part of bringing hope and healing, and to “get my hands dirty” for Christ in the midst of brokenness and suffering. So I prayed, and prayed, and prayed some more, asking God to put together the disorganized pieces of dreams and heart promptings. And with a mix of expectant wonder and energetic anticipation, I felt God say “Do you trust me?” as He held His hand out to me to join Him in an epic journey. I waited, and an answer soon came: a request for people to say “yes” to a camp ministry for foster children. I did not know anything about the work involved, what the ministry was about, or why it was important to step into the lives of abused, neglected, and abandoned children. The person who recruited me had been praying for the right leadership team to take on Royal Family KIDS at our church for four years! I headed to Nebraska for director’s training with three virtual strangers, and that first night I called my family and wept. My two younger siblings were both adopted out of foster care and I never put two and two together. I started the RFK journey to help kids in Colorado, but now started to understand my own family as well … an unexpected gift.
My role the first five years of camp was that of child placement coordinator, so I had to cold call the Department of Human Services (DHS) and convince them to let us take 54 foster children to camp. Turns out, it wasn’t only DHS I had to convince. In Colorado Springs, foster and adoption care is privatized, so I had to convince nine foster agencies as well. I was intimidated, didn’t think it would work, and felt the future of RFK in Colorado Spring was riding on my shoulders and powers of persuasion. How naïve. When God calls us to something, He won’t abandon us or let us stand alone in failure and embarrassment. I selected a number on the DHS website and called. I was told that a manager would have someone call me back. I waited nervously, rehearsing all of the reasons why they would say “yes” to total strangers who had never run a Royal Family KIDS camp? I needed to be charming, convincing, and trustworthy when they returned my call. I was completely blown away by his first words, “We love RFK and are your biggest advocates!” I was ecstatic and asked, cautiously, “But…why?” Little did I know, RFK had been in Colorado Springs over 20 years ago and this man fondly remembered camp! We scheduled a meeting, and I conveyed that we wanted full transparency and accountability. I then welcomed them to visit our camp, as I was thinking a one-day at most visit at the time. Later that week, I learned that they would be sending four full-time DHS caseworkers and managers for the ENTIRE WEEK of camp to do incident reports, take kids for advanced medical care, pick-up memory books photos, help our ‘big campers’ who needed additional help, and any other way they could help us succeed.
We are heading into our seventh year of camp, and we continue to see four or five DHS staffers fighting over who gets to come to camp with us!
I am in my seventh year of being in total awe and thankfulness to the Lord. He prompted my heart when I was not sure how to make sense with saying “no” to vet school and “yes” to loving kids. We’ll greet our 500th camper this summer and I know that we are right in the middle of the Father’s heart for kids. I can’t wait to see what the next seven years brings, as we dream of building our own camp to expand the service to at-risk youth around the city and the entire state of Colorado. Talk about a journey of faith in my life personally—and now, as we inspire a community to rally around these kids.