Camp Recap – There and Back Again
“It’s a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don’t keep your feet, there’s no knowing where you might be swept off to.”
When God moves, I just want to get out of His way and let Him work. That’s the feeling I had throughout the week at camp: just try not to get in God’s way. It’s amazing how much a week in one place can become so much like a journey to Middle Earth, but as I witnessed life after life changed by God this week, I couldn’t help but feel as though that’s exactly what happened when we returned to Bowie. God took our students through a life changing journey this week that brought many of them to grips with their need for Him. They left for camp one person, but returned another. The fitting culmination of this week’s journey ended with the students that made a profession of faith ringing a large bell before we left the campground. What an incredible experience to hear the name of each student and the ringing of the bell over and over!
One of the highlights of the week for me, was seeing one of our graduating Seniors and a great young man respond to God’s call in His life to vocational ministry (that’s just a fancy word to say he’s going to serve full time in ministry). As I watched Jerry walk up the final evening with the others that felt called to ministry, I saw a completely different man. Gone was the goofy guy that I have gotten to know this past year; here was a man with confidence and joy. He told me about how he had no idea what God really wants him to do (maybe something with kids, he really has a gift with kids), but he just knows that God is calling and he’s ready to follow Him, wherever that is. Bilbo Baggins was right, there’s no telling where your feet will take you! (On a sidenote, I thoroughly enjoyed Jerry’s testimony to how God called him. He said he was sitting there, and he looked up and saw an announcement on the screen, “We need leaders!” and he realized that he needed to grow up and be a leader.)
Another great moment was when one of the students who became a Christian this week came up to me excited because she had submitted to God’s will that night about talking to somebody even when she didn’t feel comfortable doing it. She was walking back into the sanctuary during the worship time, when she saw a young man on her way, and immediately felt God telling her to go talk to him and pray for him. She tried to ignore it as she walked back towards her seat, but after she had gone halfway down the aisle, she realized what she was doing, turned around and walked straight up to him. She had never met him before, but just offered to pray for him (and of course, just like God so often does, this young man was really in need of prayer at the time as God was working in his heart). I’ll never forget the smile on her face as she told me about how great it was to follow God’s leading for the first time as a Christian.
Whoever you are reading this, let me encourage you to do something: go to camp. Now, camp doesn’t have the power to save, only Christ does. But when you get out of your normal routine and into God’s Word and Worship, the things that we normally put up between Him and us begin to fade away. I don’t care how old you are, you’re never too old for camp! Find out when your Church’s student or children’s ministry is going to camp, and what you need to do to sign up. What I’ve learned over time is that hearing from God is twofold. First, God’s Word has to be spoken. Without the truth of God’s Word, how can we possibly know or trust that any message given is God’s? The second half is that we must hear with faith. Just because God’s message is preached in our vicinity, doesn’t mean we are actually listening (had one of our students confess to me that for so many years that he had claimed to be a Christian, he had purposely ignored the messages at Church, but after hearing with faith this week, he has finally heard the Gospel he had rejected until now). The great thing about camp, is that it naturally helps both of those. God’s Word is faithfully preached throughout the week, and with the increased opportunities at hearing the Gospel, the many people praying both there and at home, along with the removal from routine and many habitual sins that keep our hearts hardened towards God, we are much more ready to respond to the Gospel with a broken heart than with a bitter one. God’s grace is the only thing that can change a heart and cause us to hear the Gospel with faith, but camp puts us in a great situation for Him to move in our hearts. Camp doesn’t save you, but as I’ve witnessed firsthand this week, God is certainly able to use it to call sinners from darkness into light, and the journey He takes us on in this life is one we will never return from.