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Mercy, Loving-Kindness, Steadfast Love

We have another story this week as we are leading up to our Vision 2020 event. This story comes from Don Boyett, pastor of Providence Church in Lake Providence, LA, who taught at King’s Camp for 26 years. As I read over his story, I was reminded of the words that Jesus says in Matthew’s gospel quoting Hosea 6:6, “I desire mercy, not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” Michael Card in his book Inexpressible Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness discusses the limitation of language and translations to relay this Hebrew word hesed which is translated in our English Bible with many forms because a single word cannot relay the fullness of its meaning. Here the translators use the word mercy. Often it is translated as loving-kindness which is a word created by Miles Coverdale in his 1535 translation of the Bible as an attempt to translate the fullness of hesed. For this indescribable word the term steadfast love is used frequently as well. Mercy, loving-kindness, steadfast love these are words that attempt to describe what God extends to us.

In Card’s preface to his book about hesed he talks about the profound mystery of words, “the sounds that we make with our teeth and tongue, the symbols we scratch across a legal pad and peck out on a keyboard.” These symbols and sounds elicit thoughts and ideas in our brains that are composed of words. Without words we could not think.

Jesus, the Living Word, gave us these words…I desire hesed (mercy, loving-kindness, steadfast love) not sacrifice. For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. Isn’t that what we hope we receive when we are fully exposed and seen?

Bro. Don’s story perfectly describes the meaning of hesed.

Michael Card describes it this way,

“When the person from whom I have a right to expect nothing gives me everything.”

Read Bro. Don’s story in his own words about a young camper who discovered the meaning of hesed found in the person of Jesus Christ...

The Story of “Mohawk Will”

For 26 years I served as one of the teachers at King’s Camp. It has been one of the highlights of my life and ministry. The story I am about to share with you is true and happened more than 25 years ago . . .

Recently, I was asked to share a story from my tenure at the camp. Problem is; how in the world could I run through those 26 years in my mind and pick out one story among the hundreds that grabbed my mind and my heart?

Finally, I did remember one story that defined my time at King’s Camp, and my ministry as pastor of Providence Church . . .

I cannot remember the summer, but it concerns a camper by the name of Will. Because of his Mohawk haircut, I called him; “Mohawk Will”. Soon, his name was shortened to; “Mohawk”. An endearing name to all the campers.

I truly loved this young man, and knew that he was a “troubled” teenager (he was brought to King’s Camp because the leadership loved giving scholarships to kids like Mohawk). I was immediately drawn to him and set out to win his heart. It took about three days of work but a strong bond began to form. Yes, he did cause some problems at the camp, but I saw “The Truth” in his behavior; he needed someone to care and believe in him.

On the third day, his counselor came to me and reported that Mohawk had brought with him a knife and a package of cigarettes (items that were absolutely forbidden), and wanted to do better. WE HAD A DILEMMA! A young boy, abused and rejected by most everyone around him had confessed and brought the evidence of his “crime” to the leadership. What were we to do? According to the rules, he was to be sent home, but, now we “saw something” happening in Mohawk’s life that screamed out for grace, mercy, forgiveness, love, and just one more chance. Yet, a rule was broken and couldn’t be swept under the rug — all the campers knew what had happened, and . . . they knew the rules.

Finally, the decision was made to show grace and forgiveness. Mohawk was allowed to stay, and gave his heart to Jesus. The rest of the week was absolutely wonderful, and every camper fell in love with this “notorious” kid.

At the closing day of each camp, we always had a ceremony when the parents would come; enjoy a worship service, awards ceremony, and a lunch together before going home. The “going home” part that week was especially emotional for me. I HATED TO SEE MOHAWK LEAVE!

He could hardly wait for me to meet the lady who was kind enough to bring him to King’s Camp. I watched him go (among all the people milling around), find this caring lady and bring her to meet me. Please understand, it wasn’t me who did anything other than believe in this “wayward little boy”. It was the love of Jesus and the campers that really did it. Plus, Jesus would be going home with him and that was the greatest part of this story.

As we said our goodbyes, we hugged big-time, and we both cried like little babies. He asked to go home with me. I watched him leave and was transfixed as I prayed that someone would step into his life and walk with him on the journey toward fulfilling his God-ordained destiny. Although I could not go with him, I knew the One that really mattered climbed into that car with him that day. I watched them drive away and again, I cried . . .

I really tried to find Mohawk Will, and even considered bringing him to our home, but we had no idea how to find him. To this day, however, I have never forgotten the profound pleasure of meeting Will and I will carry this memory with me for as long as I live.

Yes, my years at King’s Camp profoundly impacted my life. Those thousands of kids truly touched my life, and . . . I have grown. The LORD be praised! Bro. Don .

If you have been a part of the King’s Camp story we would love to hear your story, and we invite you to come be a part of our Vision 2020 event, October 31st, in which we will celebrate all of these stories and most importantly the story of God’s hesed towards us.

The Bible reveals the God of hesed, who has opened the door of his life to you and me….he has extended himself to us, has invited us to enter his world, has made our story a part of his story.

Michael Card - Inexpressible Hesed and the Mystery of God’s Lovingkindness

Psalm 136:1

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,

for his steadfast love (hesed) endures forever.

VISION 2020 - October 30-31.


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