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2 min read

It Started at UGM Camp

As a young kid, Zola lived with her mom, homeless in Compton, surrounded by an environment of drugs and prostitution.

“I remember one time, because we never really had a steady home, she got this huge box…And she gave me a Sharpie, we were on the road, and she was like, ‘Draw your house.’ So I remember sleeping in that box,” described Zola.

When Zola was 6, a family member invited her and her mom to Spokane to escape the streets and live with her. Zola came alone and began a new life.

Dave Nelson and his wife Anne met Zola at UGM Camp several years later. Dave is a pastor at Grace Christian Fellowship, one of the many churches partnering with Camp throughout the summer.

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“I think it was the Lord…He attached her to us in some way that we knew there’s more there than just a camp experience. I do remember Anne had said, ‘I wanted to take her home.’”

The Nelsons were not the only ones who felt a bond was formed. Zola admits, “I wanted to go home with Anne and Dave so bad, but I had my own home to go back to.”

“They were so loving, and any question I had, they were compassionate and they cared about what I said.”

And Zola had lots of questions.

“I thought I had to earn my way [to heaven], and I couldn’t do it, so I cried so much. And I asked Anne to come with me to the side of the chapel, and my eyes were opened because I thought I was destined to go to hell, there’s nothing I can do about it. But that’s when I realized there’s something I could do about it.

“That’s when the barrier that was between me and God was totally broken.”

Between committing her life to Jesus and meeting Dave and Anne for the first time at Camp, a lasting impact was made on Zola’s life.

Zola stuck in the Nelsons’ minds in the following years, but four years passed without seeing her.

Dave expressed, “It’s real easy to have a summer camp experience and get really excited. Then God preserves them, and even though campers might turn their backs and run really fast the other way, there’s no getting away [from God].”

Zola described feeling like she was back at square one following camp. But, after four years, God brought her to GCF’s youth group, and she reconnected with the Nelsons.Nelson_family_2.edited.jpg

The reunion brought back the connection from camp.

“Both Anne and I looked at each other and realized that we really had a heart to adopt her, even before we had any idea how that would happen.”

At the time, Zola lived with her step-grandma who took good care of her. But having both a mother and father was important to Zola’s guardian.

Now, nearly a year later, Zola is considered part of the Nelson’s family of eight, and it turns out, UGM Camp served as the beginning for this new, grafted family.

 

 

Not every camper has Zola's story. UGM Camp has a different effect on different kids. But sending a child to camp makes an impact on their lives. 

Send a Kid to Camp. Click here.

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