Several weeks ago, Charles wrote a great post about why church camp matters. I wanted to echo his thoughts by sharing how the Lord worked at our camp two weeks ago! Our theme this year was The Born Identity. Identity is a very important concept in the cultural zeitgeist. Sexual identity, gender identity, racial identity…it’s everywhere! We wanted to challenge our young people to find their identity in Jesus Christ. So many teenagers are seeking their true identity in friends, sports, games, or a job; these aren’t bad things, but we need to find our true identity in being a Christian.
My Pastor is the director of Northwest Sr. Camp, held at Graceway Baptist Camp in Goldendale, WA. For us staff guys, that means there is a lot more to do for camp than just preparing our church! Churches need to be contacted, materials need to be ordered…it can be overwhelming! Sometimes when we get to camp, we are already exhausted from months of preparation. That’s how I felt coming into the week. To be honest, I was looking forward to getting home and being able to put camp behind me for a while!
That isn’t how I felt when I left camp, though; I felt exhilarated! God moved and worked at camp in a way that I wasn’t expecting (to my shame). Many were saved, and many more made decisions for Christ. Teenagers heard (maybe for the first time!) how they must biblically respond to our culture’s obsession with homosexuality and transgenderism. They were challenged to reflect Christ and find their identity in Him! As a youth pastor, I came away feeling challenged, convicted, and refreshed. Here are three ways God used camp this year:
- Many Decisions Were Made for Christ. We had a total of 91 decision cards this week, 17 of them for salvation. Keep in mind these weren’t the only decisions made at camp; I know in our group alone we had several decisions that did not get recorded for one reason or another. We began to run out of decision cards on the last night! These decisions are why we have camp. The whole point of camp is for God to speak to young people, and for them to respond. It was amazing how God spoke through the preaching!
- Our Youth Group Grew. This was an incredible week of camp for the Foundation Baptist Church youth group. For some of our teens, they had to overcome some personal struggles just to come to camp; but when they stepped out and obeyed God, He blessed abundantly! They began to grow and change even during the week. Some of our teens got things right that they have been struggling with since I’ve been their youth pastor. Our teens worked hard and stepped up in the preaching and music competitions. Most important, we had one young lady get saved! We also grew together as a youth group, making decisions together, praying together, and drawing closer to God and each other! It was amazing to see so many of our young people coming to the altar and making decisions for Christ!
- God worked in our counselors, too. Do you ever have those times where God convicts you of all kinds of sin in your life? It hurts! It’s humbling! It’s painful…but it’s so good! These last two weeks (camp and revival), it’s been like God has been bringing stuff to the surface that I had tried to hide or ignore, and showing me that I need to get right with Him on those things. It feels like ripping a band-aid off…but it shows that God is working in my life, and I’m so thankful for that! I know that God spoke to my Pastor and the other counselors as well. That’s one of the amazing things about camp; you go for the teens, but God works in your life, too.
Ministry can be tiring; there are times when it feels like you’re spinning your wheels and not getting anywhere. There are times it seems like others are seeing much more fruit in their ministries than you are in yours. I wanted to share this testimony to be an encouragement to you! Maybe your ministry is going through a great season right now: people are being saved, things are exciting, and you can’t wait to see what God has next! I hope that your further motivated and delighted by hearing how God has worked in our camp. If you are struggling right now, then I hope that this testimony just serves as a reminder that God is still good and still working in people’s lives! We spend a lot of time talking about how we can grow and improve, and that’s great; but sometimes it’s just right to stop and praise God for what He’s done!