Facing the Big Ugly

January 30, 2023


We all want to belong. We all want to be accepted. It’s human nature. When we feel like we won’t belong, we avoid those situations. But sometimes, once we allow ourselves to be put somewhere new, somewhere fresh, we find acceptance waiting with open arms.

This is *Eli’s story.

Every year we do a high school camp called The BIG UGLY. At this camp we tackle the BIG UGLY issues of life, both in us and around us.

I had invited Eli to camp over and over and just kept hitting a wall. I didn’t understand why he was so hesitant. Finally, I recruited one of his friends and his sister to help me convince him. Soon enough, he caved and signed up. Nothing like positive peer pressure from the ones closest to you!

At camp, we assign groups based on grade level, so we placed Eli in a group of freshmen guys that he only knew from seeing at school. That particular group had already been in a small group with me for almost a year, so they were quite close. But when they found out that Eli was in their group, you would’ve thought that they had won the lottery!

Their cabin was right next to mine, and that first night you could hear nothing but laughing and excitement exploding from the walls! Military brats all know what it feels like to be new, to be the odd one out. Perhaps this is one reason these boys so readily welcomed Eli into their circle of fun.

And is that not what Jesus does for us? It doesn’t matter who you are, what you’ve been through or what chapters your story holds. He welcomes us with open arms letting us know that we are accepted, letting us know that we belong.

He welcomes us with open arms letting us know that we are accepted, letting us know that we belong.

At the end of camp, I asked Eli why he was so hesitant to come. He told me that he wasn’t sure he would fit in. Throughout the weekend, I saw his anxiety and fear change to hope and excitement! Those boys welcomed Eli with open arms, and it changed everything for him. He left feeling so grateful that he had come and had not let the the BIG UGLY fear of rejection hold him back.

May we be more like Eli, not allowing fear to keep us from experiencing all that Jesus offers. And may we be more like that that group of freshmen boys. May we show those around us that they belong, that they are accepted, and most importantly, that they are loved.

–Article by Dale Mace, Ministry Site Director

*Name has been changed to preserve anonymity

Do you want to help kids enter spaces of belonging, acceptance and love? Imagine the impact your strategic gift could make. Join us in our $31 K by 31 March Campaign to raise $31,000 by March 31st, 2023 for YFC Military camps, retreats and trips! GIVE HERE.