Story of Week Two

Week two of summer programming has been a successful one and so many youth at risk were served from specifically Des Moines and Central Iowa region this week. One hundred children, ages 8-12, along with all of our young leaders and leaders for life brought the total for the week to 150 youth on site.

Each week, there are so many memorable moments and life changing experiences that occur. This week we are highlighting Austin’s story. Austin is on our full-time summer staff this year as a leader. Austin is a true example of what leadership by example looks like and has done a wonderful job of mentoring and helping the youth that are looking up to him this summer.

Austin wrote his story and shared it with us in poem format:

Austin’s Story

It all began back in December

At the age of 3

That’s the furthest I can remember

A young boy from a foreign country


Due to the lack of food and water

I became a son

To a family that had 1 daughter

Along with a brother that was given the same chance

But this only a glance of the beginning

From 3 to 5

I strived to be everyone’s best friend

With a smile on my face

Wanting to play pretend

But that quickly got erased when I started

Going to school

I was surrounded by a sea of white and I didn’t feel right

Because I was different

The only sense of diversity starting to learn adversity

Picked on for being different

For being brown

Sadness and hate started filling my heart

The smile was now a frown.


Now home…home I’ve never known

Because the father they showed us in Bible school

Was way different than the one I had

A young lad living in fear

Where the most water he knew wasn’t rain it was tears

All loving

All showing

I am with you

I felt abandoned

Stranded on an island alone

Because I was worthless

A piece of crap

A pile of

Wait no I can’t say that

All things I believe because this is what I was told

By my father

Feeling nothing but hate

I thought how could you forsake me?



Why would you let him do this

Don’t you see what he’s doing

His fist is held high

Don’t you love me enough to want to stop this

The beating

The hurt

The pain

I told you so many times but you said it was

All in my brain

Father God all loving

Father flesh mind numbing


So numbing I couldn’t feel

All of sudden lines on my arms I had to conceal

Just to feel something

Trying to see if I was really more than nothing

Those lines became scars

That became the prison bars

That held me captive

Feeling alone thinking no one is ever going to

Come and set me free.


What is this place?

Wildwood? Mmm. Yeah I’ll go

Not knowing what God was doing

But anything to get me away from home

For sure I am in

But even then I was still letting Satan win

And listening to his lies

Always asked what was wrong








A week later

I heard anyone come ask for change or prayer

I was a punk teen who didn’t care

But a friend who said you need this we’re

Going down there

Next thing I know I’m crying

Find out that what I thought people were saying

Was what I believed was true

Was just the enemy lying

A switch from hate to love

I felt you come from above and wrap me in your arms and

Say it’s going to be okay


A few years later I still knew who you were

But I didn’t fully step through the door.

But I felt like a bird in the sky because the only thing I

Was doing was getting high

Not off the Spirit but off of weed

A constant feel of relief

Man, I was deceived

Weed turned to LSD

LSD turned into

This is me

This is me turned into drug dealer eager

To make money

And you know God puts people in your life to bring

You closer to Him

Well it’s true because I met this girl who I knew I

Wanted to change for

And she asked me to come to Bible study

I went not for God but for her

Her and I are no longer together

But I am living way better and feeling so much more.

Because through her I met someone I can

Call my mentor

Who sat down on that day

Came up to me and said

Hey, can I pray for you right now?

So hesitant but I said yes

And then she told me who I was

What I stood for

What drove me

And there’s no way in the 3 minutes we sat with each

Other she could have guessed that


Images shown from God

A so real moment it was no facade

Fire lit

Inside me because I felt no longer lost

Asked that day back when I first went to

The Ranch please find me

Set me free from these bars

God you have been with me every step of the way

I didn’t make it this far on my own

I started seeing the picture shown to me so

Many years ago

Came to me

And I know you will never go

Set me free to be me. With love

That’s from above

It looks good on paper

And I live it

But you hold the pen

Now, then – until the very end