A church in our diocese has come up with a great idea for praying for the kids from our most recent Camp Genesis experience. The program coordinator creates palm-sized hearts with the name and age of one of the campers written on the heart. Members of the congregation to “adopt” a camper heart and sign a pledge to pray for that camper every day during the next 12 months. In June the following year, the hearts are sent to the campers along with a note from their prayer warrior. Each year, the hearts are a different color so campers who have attended multiple camps will end up with a rainbow of hearts!
The main idea is that children know there is someone out there other than a family member who cares about them, prays for them, and values them as worthy human beings who matter in this world. That is also the reason for including the note and pledge card from the person who prayed for them. The children should know that they were thought about every day for an entire year. Having an adult choose the heart of child can give purpose to the adult as well, plus it could help increase the prayer life of that adult. Best of all, it doesn’t cost the adult anything, they don’t have volunteer time or money that might be a hardship. But they can pray for a kid.
Recently, the program coordinator related a story to me about this program that is so beautiful it had to be shared. Although names are not mentioned, permission was granted to share this with you.
“In early June I was trying to get a few of the men [from our congregation] to choose a heart and pray for a camper. One guy in particular had many reasons why he didn’t think he should commit to such a project. In the process of explaining, he did say that his house actually had a chapel in it. I said, ‘Well, there you go!’ And he finally agreed to adopt one of the camper hearts.
I ran into him at the grocery store in mid-July and he mentioned that he had something to show me. This seemed odd to me, so I said ‘You brought something because you knew you would see me at the grocery story today?’ He reminded me about the camper heart that he had adopted and said that he was worried that he would forget to pray for the child each day so he decided to put the heart in the chapel at his house. He rarely uses the chapel, but thought that maybe if the heart was in there, he would use it more often. Inside his chapel, he has a small clay church that a friend gave him, so he placed his camper heart on the clay church. Then he asked if I knew what the camper’s name meant. It’s an unusual name, so I said ‘No’ thinking that it was probably something not good. He told me the child’s name means “little church” and exclaimed, ‘Do you believe it? I put the heart on the little church [without knowing that]!’
He was so excited but still concerned that he might mess up or pray wrong. I told him not to worry and that he can’t mess up because he was obviously meant to pray for this child. Although he protested that he’s not good at praying, I just told him that he has an entire year to go and he’ll get more comfortable over time. He said that since he doesn’t really know what to pray for, he just prayed that the child had a nice day. I said that’s a good start! Maybe you can expand that to include that the child has all they need like food, a bed, friends, etc. He said he could do that. I assured him that God will let him know what to pray about and it would be just right for both them!
He never showed me what it was he had brought, but I think it was the definition of the child’s name that he had saved on his phone. I continue to hear snippets of conversations at coffee hour of people talking about praying for their camper. I was in Walmart last week and a woman stopped me to say she is praying every day for another camper. I just encourage folks to keep up the good work because a lot can happen between now and next June!”
If your church would like to start a camper heart prayer program, please contact Rena at firstname.lastname@example.org.