Thursday, July 17, 2014

Coming Home

The first night of camp, Samantha looked like a frightened squirrel trapped in a cage. Her wide eyes darted around, trying to take in her new surroundings. It wasn't long before she began to talk about wanting to go home. This response isn't unusual for campers who are unaccustomed to new experiences, but, most of the time, these campers settle in after the first day and really begin to enjoy camp.

Two nights later, however, Samantha approached me after chapel and asked if she could talk to me. We sat down in the chapel room, and she explained that she was in foster care and wanted to go home. At first I thought she was telling me that she wanted to leave camp. When I began asking her why she didn't like camp, she corrected me.

“No, I like camp. What I mean is, I don’t want to be in foster care anymore. I want to go home to my mom and dad.” 

She went on to describe the poor life decisions her parents had made, resulting in their incarceration. She asked me to pray with her that, now that her parents were out of prison, she would be able to live with them again. 

I talked with her for a few minutes, and, together, we agreed to pray for three things: 1) that her parents would follow God and get their lives back on track, 2) that Samantha would be able to join them in their home once again, and 3) that, even if she is unable to join her parents, God would give her peace, comfort, and a sense of belonging, no matter where she lives.

As Samantha left the chapel room that night, her countenance was changed. The frightened squirrel was nowhere to be seen. She was now full of the peace that surpasses understanding—something that can only be accomplished through the work of God. She found a home in His presence.

Please be in prayer for the hundreds of campers here this summer. They all have unique needs, and, for many, the pain runs deep. But God is meeting their needs and it’s exciting to see His hand at work in their hearts.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Exclamation Point

It was a moment you might find in works of fiction but could never orchestrate in real life. It was as if God wanted to add an exclamation point to the end of the story. If you haven’t been able to follow our ten-month journey of rebuilding our high ropes course after it was destroyed by lightning last summer, let me just say that God’s fingerprints have been evident throughout the process, concluding with the ribbon cutting on the new Upward Tower last month. That’s where the exclamation point came in.

At the beginning of May, we were on schedule to have the new tower ready in time for summer camp. As I began to think about a ribbon-cutting ceremony, I thought how wonderful it would be if our primary benefactors for the project, Gary and Vesta Edmonds, could be here for the occasion. It was very unlikely because the Edmonds spend most of their time traveling all over the country. Around mid-May however, they contacted me about coming for a visit at the end of the month. It seemed too much to hope that the tower would be completed by then, but I was at least excited that they would see the project progressing.

Amazingly, God gave us great favor and amplified productivity so that it was finished the very week that the Edmonds arrived! We arranged for a ribbon cutting ceremony at the end of the week. Representatives from the businesses, churches, staff and campers gathered for the occasion. We presented a plaque to the Edmonds, gave them the honor of cutting the ribbon, and prayed a prayer of dedication. 

Climbers of all ages then took to the tower, scrambling up the various routes and riding the zip lines to the ground. Finally, the Edmonds, who are both in their 60’s, decided to give it a try. Just as they reached the top, distant thunder began to roll, so I announced that these would be our last two climbers. As I hooked them up to the side-by-side zip lines, I reflected on how God had worked in such a special way to allow these two precious people to be here for this day. Then, as they rode the zip lines together, bringing the perfect conclusion to the day, I looked up at heaven smiling and said, “Ok, God. Now you’re just showing off!”

God works in miraculous ways all the time, and sometimes he adds that exclamation point just to make sure we know that it’s He who is at work bringing everything about. I pray that you see His fingerprints in your own life as well.