I've spent the past couple of years working at a Christian summer camp. I try to go to the same "week" of camp routinely so that the kids get to know me and I get to know them. Since a lot of the kids come from unstable home situations, it's good for them to see the same faces consistently. My goal has been to share the gospel with as many of them as I can and encourage these precious ones in the Lord, but more than that to demonstrate Christ's love as best I can.
There's one little girl I really connected with since I started working as a counselor. Noel was eight when I met her, witty and full of life. Like any kid that age she tended to be fidgety, impatient, and mouth off occasionally. She and I got on really well since we could both be very chatty. During craft times especially I made a point to sit with her and help her with her projects since she was prone to giving up easily. I was so proud of her when she finished her marble game a couple of years back. I think she even managed most of this years crafts by herself.
We were pen-pals for a while, too, until her address changed. I got it again this year on the last full day of camp. Noel was practicing a magic trick one of the leaders had taught her, making me nervous the whole while that she would hurt herself getting it wrong. The next day I saw her off, hugging her before she got into the car with her dad, telling her that Lord willing I would see her next year.
You just never know what the Lord's plan is...
Noel was murdered by her father a couple of days ago. I don't have any connection with her family, I just found out because another camp worker saw it on the news. I didn't know that July 30th would be my last day to tell her that I loved her dearly, but Jesus loved her more. I had been telling someone that week that I wish I could take her home with me. I can't imagine what kind of heartache her mother must being going through, or any of the rest of her family that's left to cope with the mess.
I don't know why God doesn't stop wickedness like this. I don't know why precious little lives are violently ended. I don't know why it is that God decided to call a ten year old girl and her three year old step-sister home to Him in heaven. I don't understand. I know that He is faithful. I know that He is the only wise God. I know that Noel is safe away from hurt now. I pray that her family comes to know God's peace in time.
Noel, sweetie, I'm going to miss you next year.