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My daughter served as a camp counselor this summer. It is a camp in which there are several camps contained in one location. She was a gap counselor and therefore served in several different ones. One camp is called Camp Sparrowood. It is a camp for the mentally challenged ages 8-99. She was not looking forward to serving in this group. She approached it with great fear and worry. And yet it turned out to be the most uplifting and spiritual time of growth for her all because of a little girl named Melanie. Melanie was fourteen years old. She couldn’t read or write and had difficulty with articulating thoughts. She was very antisocial and had difficulty getting along with others. Over the years she had developed her own imaginary friends to take place of the ones she was unable to develop. When Melanie first came to camp she was very quiet and withdrawn. She rarely talked to anyone. She played and even occasionally fought with her imaginary friends. But despite that, she really enjoyed camp. My daughter questioned and doubted whether Melanie gained anything from the camp. Nonetheless, it was such a positive experience that Melanie’s parents sent her back later in the summer for a second week of camp. This time Melanie was a little more engaging and participatory. It was on Tuesday night during free time that my daughter realized Melanie was missing. Frantically she scanned the outdoor field looking for some sign of Melanie when she spotted her over near the outside altar area. She noticed as usual Melanie was playing with her imaginary friends but something seemed different this time. As she watched Melanie approached the cross and stood there staring at it. In a few moments Melanie reached up with both hands to the right side of the horizonital cross bar grabbed something and pulled. Then she went tot he left side of the bar and repeated the same action. Likewise she went to the foot of the cross and pulled again. Then she bent to the foot of the cross and seemingly picked up something heavy and slung it over her shoulder and went over and sat down and started playing again. In a few minutes my daughter ventured over to talk to Melanie. She sat in the grass next to Melanie and asked her what she was doing. And in the clearest voice and thought Melanie told her. "I took Jesus down off the cross so I could play with him." All week Melanie carried Jesus on her shoulder stopping to play with and included him in her daily life at camp. All week Melanie was a visual reminder of what it means to take Jesus off the cross and make him a part of our everyday lives. Far too often we are so busy admiring our Jesus on the cross, far to busying nailing him on the cross with our doubts, fears, and sins, that we never taken him down off the cross and let him live in our lives. In the simple mind, in the simple acts of a special needs child, the truth of discipleship in Christ is revealed.

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