Wednesday, March 27, 2013

They Never Forget

“Is this Steve?” The voice on the phone sounded cautious and despairing. “I need to talk to you, man.”
When he introduced himself, I remembered him immediately. David* was a former camper who came here every summer until he outgrew our program about 8 years ago. I haven’t seen him since then, but I could tell by his tone that he was in distress. Immediately I laid aside what I was working on, and gave him my full attention.

David explained that he felt his life was going nowhere, and he didn’t know where to turn.
“I don’t know why, but I just keep thinking about camp, and I really wanted to talk to you,” he said.
I told him I was glad he called, and I listened intently as he expressed to me the struggles and anguish he’d been experiencing. As he spoke, I silently prayed the same prayer I pray before every summer camp chapel—that God would use my mouth to speak words of life. When he was finished, there was silence on the phone. It was my turn to speak, but I didn’t know what to say.
Then, slowly, like a locomotive pulling out of a train yard, the words began to come. It was just a few thoughts at first, but the Holy Spirit began to pick up momentum as I yielded to Him. Soon words of encouragement, hope, and restoration were pouring out of my mouth faster than I could think of them. Tears began to flow from David’s wounded soul as the words wrapped around him like a warm embrace. Thirty minutes later, as the conversation drew to a close, I told him that he was welcome to call any time, but also to remember that God is always there for him.

Why would David call me after so many years? I believe it was because South Mountain played such a significant role in the development of his faith. David was saved and baptized here at camp in 1998. He’s a young adult now, but the experience he had here with God is not forgotten.
This is why we do what we do. South Mountain Christian Camp is not about the hiking, the swimming, or the ropes course. It's about lives being impacted through a personal encounter with Jesus Christ. The activities, the facilities, and the setting all contribute to make it work, but these things aren't remembered long-term. What stays with our campers is the fact that they experienced God here. This continues to be our purpose today.
*name changed