Over the past month I have been blessed with the opportunity to witness a lot of amazing things. I have seen transformation in the hearts of the teenagers and adults that have come to Covecrest for retreat. I have shared in local outreach which includes starting up a youth group at our local parish, St. Helena, and developing an existing youth ministry at a parish called St. Mark in Clarkesville. One of the most amazing gifts I have experienced so far is the joy I receive when hanging out with the children who live here at the camp. It’s crazy to think we have 50 people living here at Covecrest including six families. These children have really opened me up to see the beauty of marriage and family and have fueled my desire to become a father myself.
Growing up I never met my biological father. Sure, there have been times when I questioned why, times when I thought about trying to contact him, times when I really wanted to know him but the desire to know him has never been strong enough to do anything about it. Recently here in formation we have been going through the book by Father Henri Nouwen based off of the story of “The Prodigal Son”. I see a lot of similarities that I have with both the younger son and the elder son, but it has really opened me up to embracing the Lord more as my Father and filling what I may have felt in the past was missing. I give credit to my mom for raising my little brother and me the way she did and to the men that have stepped up and filled that fatherly role in my life. Learning from my experience as a son, I always say to myself I would never leave my children if I were given the grace of having my own son or daughter.
I love spending time with the children here. David, Lily, Austin and Maddie always bring a smile to my face. I realize that my time with them actually makes me feel as if I were a father. Hearing a three year old with a Haitian accent pronounce my name so dramatically (It actually sounds like JOOOOO) makes me think about what it would be like hearing my own son or daughter call me daddy for the first time. Whether its running around all over camp with them, or playing catch with a Frisbee, or even spinning them around in my arms until were both so dizzy we can barely walk let alone stand, their joy brings me joy.
When I play with these children, I ask myself “How good of a father will I be?” Of course I would want to be the perfect father – be there for my children, to be a fun and joy-filled dad. It says in Matthew 5: 48 “ So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect”. The Lord is telling us to do everything in our ability to bring joy to one another. The innocence and pure joy of these children have helped me to see God as my father and to receive his love more fully. It says in Matthew 18: 5 “whoever receives one child such as this in my name receives me”. I want to challenge you to seek the Lord through everyone you encounter especially through the children you meet. You never know the effects that a child could have on you.
Peace and Prayers.