I had forgotten how much I loved church camp until this past week.   Last Sunday through Friday I spent my days with a group of high school kids at Camp Christian in Mill Run, PA.   I must admit I am a little tired, but spiritually I am refreshed.


Like people in the church the young people came from a lot of different backgrounds which helped develop their individual personalities.  Some love living on the wild side (Like Tanner who would try to skateboard through the boys’ dorm every time my head was turned).  Some were melancholy (Like Sarah who went with the flow of the day).  Some were a little apathetic (Like Kyle who would rather be home working on the farm; and who one day found him napping in the dorm when he was to be at an activity).   Some were super Christians (like Penny who would speak up in devotions and would be the first one to serve without being asked.)    These different traits blended together and made for some interesting experiences through the week.


On Sunday I knew only one person in the entire camp; that was Lynn Wix.   So on the first day everyone was a stranger to me.   Of course I felt a little uncomfortable, but as I looked in these kid’s faces I yearned to know something about each of them.    Yet I was nervous because I wondered if my new acquaintances would accept me.   Could I still relate to them?   Would they welcome my thoughts or would they brush me off like an old antique?     I have to admit I am getting older and my grey hair doesn’t help me conceal that fact very well these days.  My fears melted away with each passing day.


By Tuesday the acquaintances had moved close to friendship.  Now the faces were not images of just another high school kid, they were icons of someone who had hurts and pains just like me.  They were someone that needed Jesus just as much as I do each week.   With that realization I came to the conclusion that this is the moment that ministry can now take place.   And it did.   


I ministered to some and others ministered to me.   To the ones I ministered to I gave a sympathetic ear or godly counsel.    The ones that ministered to me were those who were bold in their Christian walk.    How can a 15 year old kid minister to a preacher of 25 years?   Their love for the Lord encouraged me.  Their servant heart inspired me.  Their testimony put a lift in my weary walk.  Wow, how I have been blessed.


By Thursday we had built strong friendships with campers and faculty.   We had been with each other enough to see weaknesses and strengths in each other.   We had helped one another over some rocky terrains during the hike to the river and constructed some strong bonds on the obstacle course.   We shared some of our intimate feelings about our relationship with God, family, and friends in our discussion times. 


One thing for certain, we knew much more about each other at the end of the week than we did coming together on Sunday.   How did that happen?   Simply by spending time with each other, listening with the heart, and sharing the same space for a short period of time.  


This year one of the blessings of camp was that I gained friendship from people I had never met before.  These new-found strangers went for nobody to friends in only a week.  Now I am looking forward to next year to see everyone again.


What is your relationship with God like?   Are you strangers?   God is not a part of your life and you really do not see what you are missing.   Are you acquaintances?    God is like the greeter at Wal-Mart; you recognize His face and your throw your hand up for a quick wave or you nod your head to say a quick hello.  You know Him, but you don’t know Him.   Or, do you have a relationship with God?   You look forward to your time with Him.   You share intimate thoughts and quiet moments alone.  You feel lost without His presence. 


I do not know where you are in your relationship with God, but you know if things are right or not.   You know if you have drifted from where you need to be.  You know if you need to focus in on a deeper commitment.  You know if there is a sin that has created a gulf, something that is distancing you, from God.   I can encourage, give wise counsel, and direct, but you must be the one to make the changes to get back to the side of Almighty God.


I am sure you can come up with many excuses to why you keep your distance; why you do not develop a deeper relationship with God.  You and I both know it profits nothing by not being prepared.  God sent His Son to have a connection with you.  Do it now, before it is too late.


This past week our theme for camp was taken from a phrase the Lord repeats five times in the book of Revelation, “Behold, I come quickly.”    As faculty you get toward the end of the week and you ponder the events and experiences and you wonder if the campers “get it”.  Do you get it?   Do you know He is coming soon?   Are you prepared for the Lord’s coming?    My hope for you is the same for the campers---I hope you get it. 



Dear Lord, use Your Word to deepen my faith and help me to heed Your statues.   In Jesus Name----AMEN