The Why Boy

The Why Boy

By Andrew McChesney

James was a “Why Boy.” Whenever he was asked to do something at summer camp, he asked, “Why?” “Why do I have to do this?” he said. “Why do I have to do that?”

James was an orphan. His father and mother had died, and he lived with relatives in a small Native village in Alaska. Those relatives sent him to summer camp. So, James got onto an airplane and flew to the city of Dillingham. Alaska doesn’t have many roads, so people often have to fly in airplanes to travel from one place to another.

After arriving in Dillingham, James rode on a bus for about 30 minutes to a lake. Then he boarded a boat and traveled another 15 minutes to Camp Polaris, a Seventh-day Adventist summer camp for Alaska Native children just like him.

James immediately loved the camp, and he especially enjoyed water sports on the lake. He smiled from ear to ear when he hopped onto an inflatable orange-and-blue raft to be pulled behind a boat for a brisk ride on the lake. He tried not to fall into the water. Even though it was summer, the water was icy cold.

James’ smile turned into a frown at evening worship. When it was time to pray, all the children stood. The seven boys who slept in the same cabin as James stood. Their camp counselor, Adiv, stood. But James remained seated.

Adiv whispered to James, “You need to stand up.” One of the camp rules was that everyone needed to stand during prayer to show respect to God. James silently rose to his feet. But he was frowning.

The next day, James remained seated during prayer at morning worship. He sat during prayer at evening worship. Then he turned to the boy beside him and began to talk during the prayer. Adiv spoke to him every time, but he refused to listen.

On the third day, when James remained seated, Adiv invited him to step outside the lodge to talk.

Outside, Adiv reminded James about the camp rules. “If this is what you are going to do, there will be consequences,” he said. “Out of respect to God, you need to stand up when we pray and not talk. Why don’t you stand up?”

“Why should I stand up? Why can’t I talk?” James said. “I have never seen God. I don’t even know if there is a God.”

Adiv saw an opportunity to teach James about God. He spoke about the wind that often blew through the camp.

“Even though you don’t see the wind, you know it exists because you can feel it on your skin and see the rustling of the leaves in the trees,” he said. “In the same way, I can’t see God, but I can sense His presence around me.” He spoke about the stars at night.

“When there are clouds in the night sky, you can’t see the stars, but you know that they are there,” he said. “In the same way, I can’t see God, but I can sense His presence around me.” Tears formed in James’ eyes.

“How do I know that?” he blurted out. “If God exists, why do bad things happen? Where was God when my mother died? Where was God when my father died?”

Adiv said death was not part of God’s plan. But the first humans, Adam and Eve, sinned against God, and the result is pain and death. So, God sent His Son, Jesus, to die for everyone’s sins. Those who believe in Jesus will live with Him forever in a world without pain and death. “Even though you cannot see Him, God is still there,” Adiv said. James listened quietly. “Is God really up there?” he mused.

After that, James stood silently during prayers. He never said what he was thinking, but Adiv hoped that he was thinking about God.

Andrew McChesney is editor for Adventist Mission. This story is printed with permission.

World Church Prayer Requests

May 24 - 30, 2024

  • Continue praying for the people of Haiti and the political unrest that is currently being experienced.
  • Pray that many around the world would join together on 24/7 United Prayer this coming June 1st to pray for our brothers and sisters in Haiti.
  • Pray for the Railways SDA Company in Zambia. They are seeking to minister to street children by providing them with a special meal every Sabbath. Pray that God would provide more resources for them to reach the children in a permanent way.
  • Pray for the renovations and building of a “Center of Influence” and Seventh-day Adventist church in war torn Bosnia and Herzegovina. Pray for resources for building and for the local authorities to approve the project so that local missionaries can prepare the ground and plant the seed for disciple making evangelism.
  • Pray for the SION Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Dominican Republic. Pray that God will increase faith and prepare all members for the second coming of Jesus.

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