It all started when our mom made the deal.
I was 11 when our mom made a deal with my sisters and me that if we would go to a week of church camp just this first time, and we didn’t like it, she would never ask us to go back again.
We had been grumbling and complaining for weeks- not wanting to spend a week of our summer break from home in the unknown, so when she made the deal, it seemed fair to us. How much could happen in one week?
My mom knew exactly what she was doing. She knew that if we would give church camp a try, we would go back the next year without a fuss.
I’m not sure that she was ready for exactly how much we loved it.
Our parents took us to church camp on a Sunday afternoon after church. The hour-long car ride was pretty quiet; each of us lost in our own thoughts…that nervous anticipation that is a part of childhood. What if no one will sit with me at mealtime? Where will I sleep? What is vespers??
This was in the “olden days” before everyone had a cell phone and when we said goodbye to our parents that afternoon, we knew we wouldn’t see them for a whole week.
The following Saturday morning when mom and dad came to pick us up –the car was full of the noise that only 3 highly excited little girls can make. We were practically shouting over each other to tell everything we had done for the past 7 days.
We were full of chigger bites, sunburns, and addresses of new friends we had made that wonderful week. We told about the skits we had done, the jokes that had been played and we sang the new songs we had learned. We talked about the lessons we had learned and about the missionary for the week and decisions for Christ that were made.
Mom never had to ask us again. For the remainder of our time at home, we went to church camp every summer. We loved it so much that it was the cornerstone of our summer—we planned everything around that week. And when we graduated from high school, we each spent that summer on staff, living at the camp for 3 months.
That summer working at camp sealed the foundation of my faith for life.
Listening every evening to the teaching of the best pastors in the Atlanta area, and meeting missionaries from around the world was life altering for me. Over late night kitchen raids, I heard the missionary stories that they didn’t share with the kids during their messages. I got a glimpse into their life as they lived out the call that God had placed upon them. God was there, through them.
That’s part of His deal, you know.
When we get to a place where we can quiet outside life for just a little while-God can speak to us, guiding our next steps, in our encounters with His people. God shows up through their lives to us. 30 years later, missionaries are still some of my favorite people on the planet!
Camp is where the faith of my parents was forever transferred to me. I have never forgotten that it was there that God reached out to me and I am forever grateful for the direction that my life took after that summer.
Over the years of my adulthood, whenever the opportunity presents itself to be in a camp environment, either as staff or participant -I jump at it. Partly because of the connection to my past great experience with camping…bunks, sleeping bags and meal lines takes me back to wonderful memories.
But mostly, I go because I know what happens when a Christ-follower steps away from the busyness of life-looking for time to focus on meeting Him…in prayer, in fellowship, in study…but, most of all in solitude and silence.
I love those who love me,
And those who seek me find me.
We show up…He’s already there.
That’s the deal.
This guest post was written by Stephanie H. She is an amazing Jesus follower living in Maryland. Stephanie writes frequently on her blog titled “Front Porch Tales” (www.mallardsrunfarm.com) where she shares Christ-centered life experiences through her engaging form of storytelling.