Sharing Stories – Throwing Off Things that Hinder

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1

Twice each year we take our youth to camp. It’s always our prayer that those four days and three nights together, learning from God and experiencing His love, will change the life of each one present. In April this year our camp theme was “The Amazing Race”. We discovered how God intends us to live our lives in relationship with Him and with others, how to prepare for and persevere through challenges we encounter along the way, and how to optimize our race conditions by getting rid of anything that holds us back or weighs us down. This particular camp deeply impacted one of our small group leaders, and it was a privilege to hear her tell how she has been living out the lessons that she learned since returning home.

Cute Putsi‘Mamphutlane is a 16 year-old girl, full of life and dreams, known to her friends as “Putsi”. She excels in her 11th grade studies, is a gifted leader, and loves writing poetry. Her self-confidence knows no bounds, and she has never met a stranger. She is passionate about people and loves bringing everyone together, whether through playing games, chatting, or welcoming newcomers and those who are typically left out. She is a dedicated daughter/sister/friend/niece and brings the light of laughter and joy to everyone blessed to know her.

A few weeks ago, Putsi shared her desire to be a good influence in her circle of close friends at school, because she realized at camp that God wasn’t pleased with their treatment of others and the focus of some of their conversations. She felt like this wrong attitude and behavior was a “hindrance” in the race she is running and it needed to be thrown off. However, she recognized this as a struggle and asked for prayer to be strong in this area in the face of peer pressure. Last week she was challenged to take this commitment very seriously when a schoolmate told her he was disappointed in her and wouldn’t resume their friendship until she changed her behavior with her friends.

Her breakthrough moment came just a few days ago; she and her friends Friendswere sharing a hearty laugh at the expense of another student whose school uniform was old and tattered. Putsi could see how much their cruel jokes had hurt the boy, and wanted to make amends. When she told her friends they she thought they should go to him and apologize, the girls were shocked at the proposition. They told her they would never do something like that and if he wanted to be mad at them it was his own problem. Undeterred by the lack of support from her friends, Putsi went to the boy, who is a year older than her. She apologized for hurting him, that she realized she had been wrong, and asked for his forgiveness. The boy was gracious and accepted her apology, but also explained his situation at home and why the laughter at his worn-out uniform was especially hurtful because of his background. Putsi realized from this boy’s story that what may seem like a harmless joke to some could be extremely hurtful to others.

Blue galsThrough Putsi’s obedience to what the Lord asked her to do at camp, she has been a positive influence in her circle of close friends, but also showed humility and the love of God to a boy who has suffered much. She was encouraged by this experience to continue “throwing off hindrances” and bringing the light of Christ to her school and community. We thank God for the way He is working in her heart and using her to influence others.

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