As I write this post, the week four Ambassadors are unpacking their suitcases. In the morning they will be attending church with 750 Tree of Life kids, some of the most vulnerable in our ministry. Then, on Monday morning, dozens of buses will arrive, their doors will fling open and about 900 vulnerable and orphaned children will pour out; smiles on their faces, and anticipation in their eyes, excited to meet their Ambassadors and begin their week at Camp Life. Over the next five days, the kids will be fed a nutritious meal each day, our Ambassadors and staff will care for them and together we will sing, play, pray, do activities and share the love of God that is displayed in the gospel of grace.
This past week, my wife Lynelle, my daughter Sarah Grace and I had the privilege to actually do camp. Between the three of us, we had 30 kids. During the first two weeks, I observed what happened at Camp Life, but during week three, I experienced it.
I was stunned by the heartache that most of my kids endure. Many were physically abused. Some suffered from sickness and only two kids had both parents in the home. By week’s end, nine of my boys trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior and the one left was a walking, talking, Jesus loving kid. He chimed in with his own faith journey as I shared the love of Jesus with all of them.
Night after night as we recapped the day, I heard stories of life change about these sweet boys and girls. Through the first three weeks, nearly 1,000 people have put their faith in Jesus. To God be the glory for the great things he is doing at Camp Life. Seeing and experiencing the Holy Spirit at work in the Ambassadors, staff, and children here I can’t help but believe this is truly holy ground.
One of the key descriptive phrases at Family Legacy is “Live Transformed.” That is an invitation to both the Zambian kids and the Americans who are ministering to them. The number of people that shared that this was the best week of their life grows each and every week.
Lastly, I had one kid in my group named Edward who would not smile (well not his real name to protect him). He shared with me early in the week that he did not think he could endure his father’s violent outburst and wondered if life was worth living. I shared the gospel with him and, with tears in his eyes, he said that he wanted a relationship with God and he wanted desperately to go to school and receive an education. By Friday morning, this kid that did not smile was running around camp grinning ear to ear like he was a new creation in Christ, which of course he was.
As I hugged each kid goodbye, he grabbed me and would not let me go. I could feel the emotion as my allergies began to act up (translated, I was crying). He then said, “thank you Papa” and I lost it. Edward looked at me as if I were his father. What a privilege it was to care for and be with these kids like Edward.
If you have never been to Camp Life, start saving and when you come, I suspect your life will “never be the same.” I know my life will not be.
I am married to Lynelle and we have seven adult children and five grandchildren. I have the privilege of being the President and CEO for Family Legacy. I am formerly the President of East-West Ministries International. From 1998 - 2015, I had the joy of being the President & CEO of Pine Cove in Texas.
I have a remarkable burden for revival throughout the world.
For more information- visit the "About Mario" tab on my home page.