18 Sep Myles’ Green Shirt
Lee and Joy Foster began visiting Grace Church with their three sons a little over two years ago. Their two oldest boys, Sam and Myles, have autism, and the church setting had been challenging for them in the past. Myles, 13, was apprehensive about joining a Camp Grace classroom and took a few months to warm up to the idea. Over time, through a continued relationship with the small group leader and his shadow, trust was built, and Myles began to go to and participate in class. This summer, when we presented to his parents the idea of Myles going away for Camp Grace weekend, many concerns surfaced—he had never been away from home and trying new things (clothes, food, activities) can be hard for Myles. Read below as Myles’ mother, Joy Foster, writes about his experience at Camp Grace Weekend and how it impacted both her son and their family.
When we were asked to consider the idea of Myles attending Camp Grace this year, it most certainly felt like an invitation! This was an invitation to experience Jesus in a new setting with his friends. Wait—let’s read that again—experience Jesus with friends. From the very start, there was planning and thoughtful effort in place to ensure that Myles would feel comfortable and that we would also be at ease while he was gone from us for the first time ever.
All of the planning was finished and suddenly Myles was on his way to camp. We were convinced that he would stay as long as he could, and we would be coming to pick him up as soon as we got the call.
Strangely enough, we never got the call. Instead, we received picture after picture of Myles fully participating in this invitation to experience Jesus with friends. What a gift these updates were!
The first message we received on the first night before the s’mores event was, “Myles is asking about a dark green shirt with a v-neck. Is there one like that in one of his bags?”
Now, this might not seem like a big deal to you. But this is Myles’ favorite shirt. He doesn’t go without it.
My first internal response: “Oh My word! Where are my keys? At least he lasted a few hours! Why on earth did I forget to pack his favorite shirt!?” I continued staring at my phone waiting for the call to come quickly.
A few minutes later this picture comes in..
My response: “THE. BEST. EVER! Whose shirt is that?!”
The shirt belongs to Mr.Kent, Myles’ teacher in Camp Grace—the one who invited Myles and believed in him enough to take him on this adventure. This became the only shirt he would wear. Oh, be still my heart. He had literally been given the shirt off of someone’s back—or perhaps their suitcase. This is what it looks like to be the hands and feet of Jesus—to wear Jesus’ love wrapped up in a green adidas shirt. Myles wore Kent’s shirt the entire weekend, and it was represented in picture after picture of new experiences and new friends.
This story isn’t complete without mentioning the love of Myles’ friend Thomas, who invested in my son and helped make this weekend possible. Right by his side the entire weekend, Thomas encouraged Myles every step of the way. We are beyond grateful for this act of love for our boy. Having the added support buoyed Myles and allowed him to feel safe and comfortable while doing some of the most challenging activities he has ever been faced with—he even went on the massive swing. It blows my mind how gracious and generous the entire experience was for our child.
Camp Grace was a massive turning point for Myles, and we are so grateful for the invitation to go and even more for all that is still to come!
“Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.” —Colossians 3:12-15
A mosaic is made up of several different pieces that make a complete whole; every individual piece is unique and necessary to complete the picture. We believe that every person is made in God’s image and is therefore a unique and necessary part of His creation and His Church. Just as Jesus included and welcomed adults and children of all abilities, we want to do the same. People with disabilities run into obstacles and challenges when looking for a local church—and we want to provide more than just a seat on Sundays—we want to provide the opportunity for discipleship and spiritual growth to every person that walks through our doors. If you are interested in volunteering to serve in Mosaic, click below.