Shame is No Longer My Name: Ministry to At-Risk Youth

Shame_450Last week, I had the privilege of speaking at Camp David of the Ozarks Banquet for Hope. Their summer camp for prisoners’ kids is very similar to our ministry to at-risk youth, Breakaway Outreach.

Founders Benjamin and Grace Smith are inspiring folks who have written a powerful book about working with at-risk youth called Shame is No Longer My Name. Here are four reasons why you should read this book:

1. Benjamin and Grace love and follow JESUS.

Jesus overflows in their conversations and throughout the pages of their book. In an age when many people are living me-centric lives; inviting Jesus to follow their own agendas, this passionate couple has reoriented their lives around the authentic call to come and follow Christ—they epitomize the missional adventure of dancing with God into the unknown.

2. They are “Real” missionaries.

Grace writes about how when they were newlyweds, they just wanted to be “real” missionaries. Their journey had taken them to Guatemala, Russia, Africa, and remote missionary fields around the globe. But when God gave them a piece of land in Rolla, Missouri and one word: “CAMP”, they captured God’s heartbeat for missions right here in our own backyard with some of America’s most at-risk youth. They are real missionaries sent to the often overlooked “least of these” in our society.

3. They model the bold faith and spiritual tenacity it takes to follow through on a God inspired dream.

They’ve had to overcome many hardships and setbacks in the last ten years of running a camp for at-risk youth, including financial setbacks and discouragement from people close to them, but they’ve endured by God’s grace and empowerment. Their faith is battle tested and their story is a living testament of what God can do when we don’t give up on the dream He planted in our hearts.

4. They have invested their entire lives in America’s most at-risk youth.

They are not just invested organizationally or financially in the lives of at-risk youth in the St. Louis area; their entire livelihood has been sacrificed on the altar of serving hurting youth and their families.

“Shame is No Longer My Name” not only chronicles the development of Camp David of the Ozarks, it also tells many stories of the children that have been impacted by the camp ministry. The founder of the Angel Tree Program, Mary Kay Beard, wrote the Foreword to the book.

Prison Fellowship Ministries’ CEO, Jim Liske gave this endorsement:

“There are lots of scholarly works on crime and incarceration in America, and its impact on the most vulnerable in our society. But every now and then someone writes a book straight from the heart – a dispatch from the front lines of a battle that’s being waged in homes and communities all over our country. Grace Smith, who co-directs a camp that serves the children of prisoners, knows all too well the hardship and turmoil that come with a parent’s incarceration. She writes about these children’s scars with honesty and passion. But she also writes about the hope that emerges when God’s people walk alongside prisoners’ children. As you turn the pages of this book, God will open your own heart to the suffering of boys and girls whose plight you might never have considered. You won’t be able to keep a dry eye, and any preconception you might have about prisoners and their families will be forever shaken.”