Tuesday, April 12, 2011

“Darkness Cannot Drive Out Darkness”
 - Josef Bilnoski

My last three days of 2010 were spent camping in Bastrop State Park with12 middle school boys. The kids were concerned about bears and snakes as we headed into the “deep woods”. It was interesting watching the kids pitch their tents, and with a little assistance, they finally had the campsite set up. After playing some football and grilling hotdogs for dinner, the kids got to experience real nighttime. Living in the city, they are always surrounded by light. But in the woods when the sun goes down, “dark” takes on a whole new meaning. The middle school boys that were so tough a few hours ago were now scared to walk to the restroom alone. It is really interesting when you think about it: These kids live in parts of the city that we won’t drive through without locking the doors. They walk to school and to the store alone amongst gangs, bullies, and predators, but in the woods where they’re actually safe, they become afraid. Eventually, nighttime became their favorite time because it allowed them to play hide-and-seek in the dark with flashlights. We used this as an opportunity to teach them about the light of Jesus. At night, when we are in darkness, a flashlight is very bright. It attracts your attention to it. We explained to the boys how the flashlights were like the things in this world that attract our attention when we are living in spiritual darkness: popularity, money, drugs and alcohol, etc… And just like when the sun comes up in the morning and the flashlights lose their attraction, when we are in the light of Jesus the things of the world lose their attraction also.
No one was ready to leave on our final day. Though worn out by the previous day’s 8 mile hike, boys begged us to stay longer and asked when we were going to come back. The night before they all ventured out of their tents and slept under the stars - the darkness no longer scared them. Some of them talked about living in the forest when they grew older. It was so great to get them away from the city for a few days and out of their comfort zones. This trip and others like it bring these kids closer to God and closer to each other. The unity in the group is strengthened and it is something that we can build on for the future. Before we headed back to Houston we circled up, held hands, and thanked God for our trip, His beautiful creation, and to take us home safely.

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