I never had the opportunity to attend Camp YES as a camper, because when I was a teenager, we didn't know about it. It was only after I started attending Bible college that my family found out about the camp. I wish I could have been a camper, but I'm thankful for the opportunities God has given me to work at Camp. Sometimes I think I need a week away at Camp more than the teens do. I need to get my spiritual batteries recharged too, and Camp is a great way to do that. I go to Camp to help and serve, but I come away greatly blessed!
A couple of things happened this year that I want to share. They impacted me a lot, and really taught me some things. One of them was the Scriptures God gave me to use with my girls, which I've already shared. Another highlight of camp, and probably my favourite part, was when the teens gave testimonies. The campfire is the traditional testimony time, but a few evenings after the preaching service Pastor McClain gave time for testimonies as well. I can't explain how awesome it is to hear 15, 16, and 17 year old teens speak about how God is working in their lives, and how they just want to serve Him. It literally sends shivers up and down my spine. This year a couple of testimonies stuck out to me. There were two boys who gave similar testimonies at different times during Camp. They had both been involved in some pretty bad stuff: drugs, alcohol, vandalism. One even said he had gotten in trouble with the police. What struck me about these testimonies is that I've known both these boys for a long time. I know their families, and the church they attend. I always thought they were good kids! They've been in church their whole lives. They've attended Christian school. They professed to be saved at a young age. They've been on mission trips. They've worked at Camp many summers. They've had every opportunity to know God and to live for Him. Yet they messed up, and they messed up bad. I literally would never have thought in a million years that these boys were involved in this kind of sin. It shocked me! They were GOOD church kids!
Both boys spoke about how God has been working in their hearts, and how they have realized their sin. They gave testimony of how they have repented, and how they have been taking steps in their lives to get rid of the sin. When they shared some of the things they were involved in my heart broke for them. But, as they shared how they were turning to God for forgiveness and strength, my heart rejoiced! Praise the Lord for mercy, grace, and forgiveness. I John 1:9 is still in the book! If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
I'm sure it was difficult for these boys to stand up and share their struggles. They might have thought that others would judge them. I'm sure many of the others at Camp were like me and thought these were the good kids. What would we think when they confessed to all this horrible sin? It's funny though, no one reacted like that. No one got angry at these boys for messing up. No one yelled at them. No one told them they were stupid or foolish to do all those things. No one demanded they stand up and confess every sin publicly and beg for us to forgive them. No one disowned them. No one refused to forgive them. No one shunned them. No one humiliated them. Instead, I saw people, both campers and leaders, praying with them, hugging them, and encouraging them.
It can be a scary thing sometimes to "come clean" about our sin. We fear the judgement of those around us who think we're living like Christians, when really we're not. The Bible says that we must confess our sin and repent of it if we want to be in fellowship with God (I John 1). We can't let our fear of man stop us from doing that. There will always be those who judge, but we cannot let them stop us from doing what is right. I was greatly blessed to hear these boys stand up and say that they are forsaking their past and giving their lives to God. Does that mean they are perfect now? Of course not. Does that mean they'll never mess up again? Nope. They'll be tempted again, and they may even fall, but they are taking steps in the right direction. I was also blessed by the loving, positive, and encouraging reaction of those who heard these testimonies. If those boys do fall again, they need to know that there will be people there to help them get back up. I believe that the response of everyone else at Camp gave them that encouragement this week.
I have one more Camp story. Well, it's really not about Camp. It's more of a personal story, but it relates to Camp. Summer is a bit of a hard time for me financially. Less people take music lessons during the summer, so my income naturally declines. It's just the nature of my business. Of course, I know this, so I plan accordingly during the year to be able to have enough to live on during the summer. This summer has been particularly hard in this respect. I couldn't plan as well as in other years, because since I started my new business there were a lot more unknowns. Also, I had some unexpected expenses come up, and lost some income in other areas. It's nothing devastating or drastic, but it just makes things slightly tighter than usual. Taking a week off in the middle of the summer to go to Camp almost seemed a bit foolish considering how things are at work right now. I could very easily have justified working instead of going to Camp. I need the money! However, I've always sought to put God first in my life, and I believe going to Camp honours Him. Like I said earlier in this post, I need my spiritual batteries recharged too! God has always provided in the past when I've gone to Camp, so I'm sure He'll provide this year too. As it turns out, when I got home there were three letters in my mail from the Ontario Government. All three of them had cheques in them! Various tax rebates etc. I'm not entirely sure what exactly they are for, but hey, if the government wants to give me money, I'm not going to complain! Let me just say, that these cheques were completely unexpected, and I've never gotten 3 at once before. Usually I just get a GST cheque a couple of times a year. God is SO good! I could have made it without those cheques, and they didn't make up for taking an entire week off work, but they certainly helped. I'm just grateful for how God provides from such unexpected places at unexpected times!
As always the preaching at camp was amazing. I'll end by sharing a few things that were said that stood out to me.
~ We are sent to the world so that they can come to know God.
~ The 'world' is whatever cools my affection for Christ.
~ We're not 'better' than the world we're just 'blesseder.'
~ God does not want us to be isolated from the world, but He does want us to be insulated from the world.
~ The world will never sink a Christian unless you let it inside.
~ Prayer shouldn't be something God has to insist that we do, it should be something we crave.
~ If sin satisfied there'd be no addicts.
~ The Bible is still God's Word even if people stop using it and stop believing it.
~ Good intentions don't give you the right to disobey God.
~ The greatest thing a Christian can do is be more conformed to the image of Christ every day.
~ Conviction is God saying, "I love you so much I want you to become more like me."
~ Let fellowship, loving, and walking with God push the world out of your life.