Our first Summer Youth Camp of this year ended yesterday. I wanted to get some of the lessons I personally learned on “paper” so that I wouldn’t forget them. Maybe some of them will be useful to others.
Recently a family of four, immigrants from Eastern Ukraine started attending our church. This was the first time their teenagers came to our camp. They are Christians and they moved to our town not too long ago. Their two children have attended other camps. One of them, a 15 year old boy with the same hair cut I had when I was his age, told me, “this is the most Christian camp I have ever been to!” I don’t now exactly all he meant with this, but I think it had something to do with the fact that the Lord was clearly at work during this week. There were a couple of salvation decisions, campers seeking counseling over assurance of salvation and other important matters and two of them that feel called to serve the Lord in the ministry! Another long time camper this time was a junior counselor and delivered his first chapel message. The Gospel was preached, and the Gospel is still the power of God to save. This was truly a Christian camp.
There were a few things that the Lord showed me during this week. It is my privilege to share these with you.
- There is no substitute for preparation: I am in awe of all the work missionaries Allen and Barbara Newton (my wonderful in-laws) put into this camp. They have been called to start and lead this needed ministry in Portugal and the Lord has been using them in a mighty way. Both of them have their unique set of gifts and they use them for the glory of God. Literally, when one year’s camp is over, they start working on the next year. Coordinating staff, assigning and monitoring responsibilities, crafts, games, food, decoration, construction, beds, energy, water, transportation, cleaning, you name it. We should trust the Lord for wisdom, power and direction AND we should take our work seriously.
- The Word of God is not boring: I was given the great responsibility of preaching the evening messages. What kind of messages to preach? What kind of kids are we getting? What is relevant? All of these questions and more stayed with me during the months that led to camp. I had to remember that the Lord did not depend on my ability to be relevant. I had to believe that the Word of God is not boring. I had to trust that the Gospel is still the power of God to save. I decided to make the messages Biblical and Christ centered. I’m glad I did.
- God does not depend on your expectations: In the beginning of camp, one pastor that was there pointed to a kid he brought. He was praying to see that kid saved during camp. I kept noticing him. His attitude was not the best. In my little faith, I did not expect much. I’m glad God does not depend on my expectations. The last night of camp, that kid prayed to receive Christ as the solution for his sin problem. He told me afterwards, “Now I have so much joy!” What a Savior!
- We need to pay attention to detail: Some kids don’t just say they want to talk to you. Sometimes, they hang around, hoping you will talk to them. I learned I need to focus more on what the Lord is doing around me. By doing this, I had some meaningful conversations that would not have happened if I had just waited.
- As much as possible, involve the church people: It was great to see our church people come and help either in the preparation work and during camp as well. We need to make every church ministry a training and serving opportunity.
- We can all be used: Aura and I have different Spiritual gifts. Our ministries this week were not the same. But it was a joy to see her serve the Lord gladly either as a cabin counsellor, a kitchen helper, a spider killer (she is very good) or a water balloon filler. Even with all that, she had the joy of praying and talking to some of the campers. There was a group of young adults from the US that came to help this week. There was enough work for us all! The Lord made us with specific gifts to be used for His glory. If we have the desire to be used, He will use us.
I believe the Lord is always at work and I believe He is always trying to teach us and mold us. This year’s theme was the “Fruit of the Spirit.” God transforms the ones He saves. Always. So, whenever we can’t see God at work, and whenever we are not learning and being transformed, the problem is not with God. Sometimes we are not where we should be and we miss what He is doing. And other times we are not paying attention and we miss what He is teaching. I’m sure I could have learned a lot more. Sometimes I get too busy with myself. Nevertheless, I’m glad about what I got to learn this week.
How about you? Do you have some lessons from camp you would like to share with us? We would love to hear from you. Leave us a comment or send us a note.