Steve's Story: How We Came to Serve Abused Children
At our first camp, we felt like we were standing on a skinny tree limb that might break at any moment, and yet we felt God's overwhelming leading and support. God had obviously brought everything together. He granted one miracle after another.
When the bus arrived with our first group of campers there was a young man, Steve, who had been pushed on the bus at the pick-up. Then he was pushed off the bus and the door closed when he got to camp! He appeared to be in a catatonic state, unable to relate to his world. We later learned that he had been sexually abused by a man. We did not have experience or education in how to handle a situation like this. We had just planned to have a camp for children who came from disadvantaged backgrounds. We had not planned on dealing with a child like this.
He was assigned to a counselor named Dave Blackford who had to lead him or push him, to every event. He even had to hand feed him. Dave was baffled and came to Karen not knowing what to do. Karen was mystified as well, but prayed for guidance. She told Dave, "I can see that you are doing all you can. You have not done anything wrong. Don't give up. Just keep on loving him, Dave!" God had picked the most patient and loving counselor we had to give to Steve. God used this special man to reach into the heart of this broken child.
At our last evening campfire, we asked the campers to share what they had learned during the three days they were with us. We were all shocked when Steve stood up and started talking! He had not spoken a single word during the entire camp. He said, "Now I know what love is. Love is giving not taking. The man who abused me said he loved me, but that is not love. When I grow up I'm going to be a counselor at Camp Alandale."
- Excerpt from Lord, Take Care of Me! by Karen Wood
The people in Orange County Social Services were amazed by the recovery they saw in Steve upon returning to his group home. They explained his condition and history to us. We learned that the Lord accomplished more for Steve in a three-day camp, than he had received in two years of therapy. Eventually, they asked if Camp Alandale would be willing to take all the children from Orange County Social Services for a camp experience! Steve's story brought focus for the ministry at Camp Alandale: to reach abused children with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
Steve showed us that God is able to use ordinary people, like Dave Blackford, without expertise or experience, to express God’s love and change the lives of broken children. Our motto came from this: "God doesn't always call the qualified. God qualifies the called." Our vision is that all abused children across Southern California and the nation would be introduced to the life changing and healing reality of Jesus Christ and be equipped to live meaningful and productive lives. This is our purpose and Steve's story is the reason we know this.