Reflecting on a week away with God
Happy July 4th! I have spent the last few days reflecting on this past week I spent with God at Hanging Rock Christian Camp. There are so many stories I could tell about the week…how we played paintball with some high school kids, how Nic, Jacob, Lindsey, and I all got our share of welts for Jesus. (I am copyrighting that phrase by the way for next year’s t-shirts). I could tell tales of awesome worship services, powerful small group experiences, wonderful camp food, and beautiful weather.
The stories I want to share with you are on a much deeper level. I would like to share a few victory stories from our week. The victory stories of personal conversations with students that will last an eternity. I cannot share names or particulars as I do not want to reveal personal confidences that we promised the students we worked with.
But I can tell you that God gave all four of us an opportunity to have influence with students this week that may have not only been forming spiritually, but influence that has saved physical lives as well. Some wonder what benefit playing paintball at church camp has. A game that mimics violence seems an odd match for a camp that promotes the love of Jesus.
It’s in that game that some other things are taught. Teamwork. Sacrifice. Mercy. Love. In the Gospel of John Chapter 15 verse 13 we find the words of Jesus as he instructed his disciples to love one another…
In playing paintball we teach the kids during the break times about the sacrifice that they may make in a game being a small microcosm of the sacrifice that Jesus describes. A sacrifice for a friend is the greatest kind of love.
In the process of spending quality time playing this game with these kids, we get the opportunity to have other conversations, which sometimes lead to the life saving counsel that we are blessed to get to give. We all had those types of influences this last week…with kids who were struggling, depressed with life situations hanging over them that were outside of their control and some that were by their own poor choices.
There was one student, who has been at paintball the last three years, who came up to me and said that if it weren’t for Jacob and I and the paintball camp experience that he has had the last couple of years, that he wouldn’t be alive. I can’t give more of the story – but suffice it to say as that boy walked away from me I was taken aback – you go into camp with ideas of bringing Christ to these kids to hopefully help them find the saving grace of Jesus…but you don’t really expect to save anyone physically. Our young people are dealing with real issues, real stress, real heartache. Pray for them please…they need that… but could I encourage you to take it a step further? Could I encourage you to build a mentoring relationship with a young person – by spending time with them, teaching them something about life, take them fishing, show up at their sports events and concerts and plays, show them in some way shape or form that their life has value to you. So many young people are not getting that from anyone…and you could be the very person that keeps them from checking out permanently. Show people Jesus by loving them and maybe even sacrificing something for them. This is the greatest love!