Jerusalem Ministry, the orphanage ministry I started back in May 2006, has been holding soccer camps every summer for 3rd to 6th grade boys since 2008. This was our tenth camp! We had 39 boys from seven different children’s homes and 46 volunteers (including staff). We held the camp from August 7-9. Please scroll through for a picture summary of the camp and then some sweet stories at the end of the post.
This year all the kids and volunteers received three different t-shirts (one for each day) thanks to Havas who sponsored us.
This picture was taken shortly after all the boys arrived on the first morning. Coach Shalom (sunglasses) was calling out the names of the boys who would be on his team.
After dividing the boys into four teams we gave the kids a full uniform along with nice new soccer shoes. They always look amazing after changing into them! Here is Team Brazil warming up after meeting each other.
Team England did a trust fall with the kids and volunteers as an icebreaker
Team Germany had their own icebreaker game pitting the kids against the volunteers.
Along with the uniforms and shoes, the kids also got sunscreen lotion rubbed on them by the volunteers. The boys (most of them, at least) love the attention and touch of the volunteers and I’m always surprised and blessed when I hear boys asking for more sunscreen. It’s rare for the kids to get such close attention and care, so they soak it up.
Team England, including coach Larry (top left), our only non-staff who has served at every camp since 2008 (my staff Jee and I are the two others to be at every camp). We’re so thankful for Larry!
Team Germany, who would end up as the champions for this camp
Team Italy after lunch on the last day
On the first day of the camp the weather was very hot with the sun shining strongly on us. During a scrimmage in the afternoon this boy came out of the game saying his body ached and he was too hot. Immediately three female volunteers got around him, one with a fan, another with water, and another rubbing his head.
Needless to say his condition improved very quickly… 🙂
Once again, these kids soak up the attention. He was happy to stay on the ground a bit longer. He ended up being fine and had a great camp and we didn’t have any other boys who had to rest from not feeling well. Praise God!
At the end of each camp day we have the kids get in a circle for compliments time. I’m always blessed when I hear the boys complimenting each other. For many of them they rarely receive compliments from adults or their peers and even fewer of them learn to give compliments. But during this camp, thanks to all our wonderful volunteers, they are guaranteed to receive good compliments. Usually by the last day we’re able to get almost all of the kids to give compliments to each other.
As I mentioned before, the weather on the first day was exhausting. It was in the 90’s temperature wise and the sun was blazing. During the first five camps (2008-2012) the volunteers always prayed hard before the camp and the weather would be great for the three days, with torrential rain or other bad weather often happening right before and right after the camps. But then in 2013 it rained hard for the first time on a camp day. My staff Jee felt led to have all the kids pray for the weather instead of the volunteers. Amazingly, within five minutes of the kids praying the torrential rain (monsoon) completely stopped. Since that camp every year we’ve been focusing on teaching the kids to pray, and God always responds! So during our first camp day Jee went team to team and had them pray for the weather. As they would pray some of the kids would mention feeling the wind suddenly blowing and many times a cloud would come and cover the sun for some time, which was very refreshing. Even some of our volunteers were shocked by how God was answering the kids’ prayers. After that first day many of the kids told us they were praying at night for the camp. The weather for day two and day three ended up being phenomenal. And sure enough the heavy rain came the day after the camp ended.
Here is a picture of some of the kids and volunteers praying at the beginning of day 2.
Team Brazil loves their morning drills!
With Ji Oon from my children’s home, who hadn’t even been born yet when we held our first camp (his birthday is 12/15/2008)
Joy! A cute story about number six is coming later in the post…
Before the matches we explain the rules and then have the kids shake hands
The games were intense this year!
This 3rd grade goalie was one of my favorites. His intensity level couldn’t be matched. Too bad the other team just needed to kick it a few feet in the air to make it unblockable for him. =)
Our volunteers cheered the kids well
Post match we had the kids line up and shake hands with each other
We ended the camp with an afternoon of swimming. The boys love this time!
After swimming we took the championship team to Vatos Urban Tacos for a fully sponsored championship team dinner meal. The kids loved it!
Coach Calvin called up his boys one by one and complimented them and then gave them a framed team picture
With Jonathan, one of the co-owners of Vatos. Thank you, Vatos!
Now time for some sweet stories. Here is a picture of Jee, my fellow staff who has been at every camp since 2008…
These kids, as cute as they are, are not perfect and some of them have heavy issues. There are many sad stories behind these boys and many of them struggle with controlling their emotions and receiving love and discipline. We have a discipline system for the kids, but for some we have to show extra patience and leniency because we know they are special cases, such as the boy on the far right of Italy’s team picture…
This boy was up and down during the camp and had trouble controlling his emotions. At the end of day 2 Jee had to pull him aside and have a long talk about his demeanor, about how we care for him, and about what we expect from him. Thankfully he received it really well. After the talk he happily received big hugs from me and from Jee. We could tell he was yearning for healthy attention.
On day 3 we saw some joy and energy from him that we hadn’t seen before (he is the boy on the left). He still struggled with his emotions some, but we could see differences in him. These boys are precious!
Another neat thing about this soccer camp is that we had three volunteers who grew up in the children’s homes with some of the same boys who attended the camp. Among the three was Young Suk, the Oak Tree Project student that Sky and I mentored through his four years of college (he graduated in February this year).
Young Suk did a phenomenal job at the camp!
Even cooler is that the other two volunteers who grew up in the homes actually attended our very first camp in 2008 as 5th and 6th graders. The boy on the left here grew up with Young Suk…
His team won the championship back in 2008. Look at how much the camp has changed since then! And try guessing which boy he was in the picture…
If you guessed the boy in the top middle, then you guessed right. The camp has changed so much since 2008 and he was blown away by how much nicer everything is.
The other volunteer who grew up in a children’s home was Young Oong, who grew up in the children’s home that I’ve been serving at since the end of 2005…
I don’t have many pictures from our first camp in 2008 (we didn’t have a photographer then), but he is the boy on the left in this picture…
He was very small as a 5th grader then (he had been put in the children’s home a few months earlier), but grew well and is now one of our Oak Tree Project scholarship recipients. He did a phenomenal job during the camp and was a favorite among the boys.
What a joy for me to see these three young men serving and giving back to the kids from the homes!
Here is a sweet story about this boy (written by one of our volunteers, Joanna, who has served as an intern in our ministry)…
“Though I’d heard Pastor JM speak about transformations in the kids throughout the camps, this was my first camp in which I personally witnessed an astounding transformation.
Hamin was one of the third grade boys I escorted to the camp from Sungro Children’s Home. He gave me a lot of trouble both during escorting and during the camp. He would be rude and aggressive towards me, spouting hurtful things (i.e. “Hey ugly, dwarf teacher!!”) or shoving/grabbing me from behind when I wasn’t looking. I wasn’t offended by his words or actions, but I was frustrated at my inability to discipline or love him effectively. He would seek me out, however, to say or do these things so I knew that he was coming from a place of wanting attention through my reactions.
On the third day, in the middle of him sticking his tongue out at me and calling me names, I remembered Pastor JM mentioning how the kids who are the hardest to love are usually the ones who need it the most. I thought about how, as a third grader, Hamin was probably even more impressionable than his fourth/fifth/sixth grade counterparts, and spoken with the right intentions, how words could give life.
I looked at Hamin and said, “하민이는 너무 사랑스러워~ (‘Hamin, you are so lovable’).” He looked down and quietly said, “아니야. 하민이는 안사랑스러워… (‘No, Hamin is not lovable’).” When he looked up, I looked him straight in the eye and said, “아니야 하민이는 진짜 사랑스러워~ (‘No, Hamin is very lovable’).” He muttered something incoherent and I figured God would do the rest.
After that moment however, Hamin’s demeanor towards me changed. He willingly took selfies (pictures) with me, sat next to me as I stroked his hair, and spoke sweet words to me. For example, during our dinner together on the third day, when Hamin noticed I didn’t eat as much as the other teachers, he expressed concern that I might go hungry later. While we were walking back to the home, he held my bag for me, and when I told him that he didn’t have to, he asked, “Are you really sure??” in Korean. He even let me give him a big hug when we dropped the kids off at the home on the last day.
I don’t think my words suddenly gave Hamin a new demeanor. I think Hamin felt genuine Love behind the words and that allowed him to express his true demeanor–a sweet, thoughtful little boy who desires to be recognized, affirmed and protected like any child at his age. In those moments, I got to see Hamin in the original form that God intended him to be, not the tough, bratty mask he puts on to guard himself.
I think I fell more in love with soccer camp this summer through my relationship with Hamin. There’s something so holy when all these little boys shed their insecurities and allow their purity to shine through–a kind of purity that only children can retain. I think, as a volunteer, that’s what really attracts me to the camp: the Kingdom unfolding through the collective presence of these orphan boys (whom society would deem as the lowest and ‘unworthiest’).”
Here is Ha Min enjoying the camp on day 3…
One more story, this a cute one, of this 4th grade boy Won Suk (his coach encouraged him to strike this pose during the kids’ individual pictures :))…
We have volunteers who pick up the boys from their children’s homes each morning and take them home after each camp day. When the camp days end we give the boys a snack to take home. After day 2 we gave the boys a snack bag that was prepared by a church in New York and sent to us for our camp. The bag had different American candy in it and the kids were all excited as they opened them on their way home. Won Suk’s driver, JP, smiled as he saw the kids’ excitement. After arriving at the children’s home after the camp day he got out of his car with the boys and went into the children’s home. He then realized Won Suk hadn’t gotten out of the car with them. After a few minutes of being in the children’s home JP returned to his car to find this on his steering wheel…
When he got in his car he noticed Won Suk peering from behind a wall, looking to see if JP found his gift. JP pretended not to see him and smiled at the kids’ sweet gift.
After day 3 (our last day) JP again took the boys home. This day they received a small pack of gummies. When they arrived at the children’s home JP got out again with the boys and then went behind his car. Won Suk stayed in the car again, this time not knowing that JP was behind the car watching him. JP watched as the boy pulled out his pack of gummies and looked at it for a while in his hands. The boy then slowly reached over towards the steering wheel with the gummies, but then paused, and then pulled the gummies back in front of him, looking longingly at them. Finally, the boy slowly opened the bag and took one gummy out and ate it. He then took the bag and put on the steering wheel and got out of the car. Such a cute, sweet kid! Generosity among the kids is rare at the children’s home, so it was such a blessing to my staff to hear this lovely story. =)
Last, here is a picture of my wife Sky, her mom, and me…
God is good! =)
To see all the pictures from the camp (there are many), then please go on Facebook and search “Jerusalem Ministry.” If you like our Facebook page you’ll be able to access our pictures from past camps, including this one.