RestorationJuly 10th, 2013
This past week, we were at Twin Lakes Camp in Indiana. It was a challenging, but rewarding, week for all of us on the team. We were split up and each assigned to be assistant counselors – which meant that we were with the campers all week long. We ate meals with them, played games with them, and even stayed in the cabins with them. Since we were with the campers the entire time, we were able to build relationships more easily and more deeply than is sometimes possible. Because of this, we had some really neat opportunities to build into the campers lives. There are many stories we can share from the week, but I want to tell you about one of the campers that was in my cabin.
I was in a cabin with seven middle school boys, one counselor, and one counselor-in-training. The guys in my cabin were a fun group to be around. They laughed and joked around a lot of the time, but they also thought deeply about the teaching they were hearing. Eric, the counselor, and I had to work hard to try to respond with some of the questions they were peppering us with. They were not easy questions, either. It was obvious that several of our campers were really struggling to understand some hard topics, topics that I still wrestle with to be honest. It was a humbling time, because we didn’t always have the answers the campers were looking for. But, God was still working through our efforts. We had a certain camper who was the most likely to ask us questions and to follow up on our answers. He was really wrestling with the person of Jesus Christ, and how God could allow some people to be saved and not others. In his mind, there was a certain “unfairness” that he couldn’t bring himself to accept. As we listened and learned his story, we started to understand some of the basis for his questioning. He had grown up hearing about Jesus in a Christian home, but had rejected God and religion when he entered middle school. In his words, his rejection had to do with a spirit of rebellion against his parents. At camp, he was confronted head on with truths about Jesus, truths that force a decision one way or another. As the week went on, it started to seem like he just wouldn’t be able to get past the doubts that he had. Eric and I, as well as other counselors and staff, kept praying that something would help open his mind and change his heart. I was able to talk with him personally a few times, but Eric really took initiative and kept pressing him to think about what he was hearing. On Friday, the last full day of camp, it looked like he had made up his mind, and we were starting to get discouraged. My team and I needed to leave early Saturday morning, so I had said my goodbyes and was getting ready for bed. Eric and our counselor-in-training, Thomas, were outside on our small porch having one-on-one conversations with each camper to debrief about what they had learned from the week. As I stepped out onto the porch on my way down the hill to the showers, I heard the words I had been waiting for all week: “Brandon, would you pray with us? He wants to put his trust in Jesus.” Hearing him pray for the first time was one of the most powerful moments I have witnessed. All the doubts, all the questions, all the disbelief seemed to roll away. It was the most beautifully awkward prayer I have ever heard. When he finished praying, he had an aura of complete relief and contentment. We grabbed some other campers from our cabin and told them the news. Then we ran all the way to the bonfire where the high schoolers were, and he shared the story of his newly placed trust in Christ. All of our frustrations and exhaustion from the week were suddenly insignificant and completely worth it for that one moment.
We still left early the next morning, and I didn’t have much time to spend with him before then. But, the time I did get to talk with him was so encouraging for both of us. He had so many questions about what would come next. I told him as much as I could think of, and I was blessed to see his hunger to start growing in his new faith. As we are starting a new week of camp now, I am hoping and praying for more opportunities like we had last week. I invite you to join me and pray as well. God is doing amazing things through the camps we have the privilege of visiting. Pray for strength and energy, wisdom and opportunities to share it. Most of all, pray that we would be seeking God and be willing to join in His work of restoration.