My last post was part one about the wonderful experience Rob and I had at Young Life Camp as two of nine adult guests. As hard as it was to leave home and the office for a week with no responsibilities (spoken tongue in cheek, and in all seriousness), both of us came back better people for it! I encourage you to scroll down to the last blog — or not. 😉
Continuing with observations in no particular order, because I am overwhelmed with things to take away and apply in Tallahassee (this is really #5, but it’s above my paygrade to get my blog to start numbering there for a new post):
There were roughly 700 people at Young Life Camp. Over 600 were campers, a handful of full time staff (what an amazing job for these talented people), and A LOT of mostly high school and college-aged volunteers who gave their summer and paid their way there to work for free, so that kids could have a blast and hear about Jesus! Young Life exemplifies a servant’s heart. 700+ people — all provided comfy beds with crisp, clean linens, towels in the cabin, towels by the lake and pool (thats a LOT of cleaning and washing and folding EVERYDAY for the tawashies and laundry girls – makes my job at home look ridiculously easy). We all had our quarters cleaned (including the private bath each cabin enjoyed), 21 meals and countless snacks for all 700+ people all week long. Home cooked and served at a seated meal — baked breads, buns and desserts (at least twice a day). Linen napkins folded differently each night … teachers, life guards, actors, singers, hometown leaders (deserving a number all their own)… all serving the safety, comfort and care of campers with varying dietary concerns, disabilities and boundless energy — and all doing it to speak the Gospel to the campers and invite them to trust in Jesus. The staff and volunteers are all a tremendous testament to the power of Jesus in our lives, if we let Him. John 11:26 says “If anyone serves me, he must follow me; and where I am, there will my servant be also. If anyone serves me, the Father will honor him. As a mom, that servant’s heart came naturally when my children were young, and I held various “official” volunteer roles. But what about in my everyday life as a member of the sandwich generation? At the office? With my neighbors? The questions deserve my prayer that God will reveal intentional paths to serve Him and others in little private ways — while continuing my planned neglect, as I seek His will.
- At Young Life’s core are the volunteer leaders in each high school, Many of them are college students juggling academics, other extra curricular activities, the development of their own faith, jobs… and still they give an unimaginable amount of time to high school kids. They develop relationships and earn the right through love and caring to speak about Jesus. They don’t let the crazy busy pace of college or the culture stop them from serving. They sit at high school ball games, lunchrooms and hangouts. They make real friends. They prepare weekly for club and share their stories, all in the hopes a child will come to camp for “the best week of their lives,” to hear the Gospel and accept Jesus as their personal Savior. At camp they are in the trenches and the bunks. Exhausted, they rely on Jesus to answer questions, wipe tears, and to give them the stamina to pray and play hard. Their maturity of faith and their love for Jesus and the kids are both powerfully evident. But camp is only the beginning! They come home with the kids and lead them in Bible studies and the beginnings of a lifelong walk of faith. These YL leaders inspire me! What plan do I have to intentionally love people and lead them to Christ? Am I busier than the next person? 50 years are behind me. I’ve taught Sunday school and led countless Bible studies, but after camp I felt compelled to pray for forgiveness. How much more I could have loved and lived out the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20). Couldn’t I have at least one or two people God places on my heart to chase after for Him? To pursue in love, showing them Jesus in the process? Learning about their work and family, inviting them to church? And then never stop being available to the next one Jesus places on my heart? I want my “back nine” to count so much more for eternity!
- Rest. At Sharp Top Cove, despite the full schedule and borderline chaos at times, I felt rest — Sabbath Rest. I’m guessing others did too… like the little boy who said it was the first time in a long time he had felt safe while sleeping. Rest is important. It’s a gift from God, and a commandment. Currently I am under the weather and resting with Him.
- At Camp I experienced God’s abundance in wonderful ways. I don’t know the intricacies of Young Life’s budget, but I do know that they don’t carry debt to fund projects. They pray and build after the money is in — and then they celebrate God’s bountiful blessings! How? The average meal (and I’m talking about good food — even the adults with developed pallets love it) costs $1.71, because they are good stewards and they have a kitchen FULL of volunteer cooks, dish washers, bakers and servers — the body of Christ willing to humbly serve. Without them, camp wouldn’t work. I think God is powerfully multiplying some loaves and fishes here, because at Young Life Camp, we all felt His provision in every way (even in the weather that was forecast to be rain and more rain — but proved to be beautiful!). Psalm 65:11 promises “You crown the year with your bounty; your wagon tracks overflow with abundance.” At YL, they EXPECT God to show up and work miracles. They don’t believe they can accomplish His work without His Hand, nor do they want to. Whatever He provides, they work with it. And all credit, praise and honor goes to God. I’m not a nonprofit — so how can anything similar apply to me? Am I a good steward of all God has given me? Do I give freely of my time, possessions, and talents, specifically for His Kingdom? And most importantly for my life, am I actively joining where God is already at work — to use the gifts He has given me as part of the body? Sometimes, I’m too much of an island. I go to church and leave, and try to accomplish God’s will and commands with just the two of us. At camp, I saw the power of community working together, corporate prayer and worship. I think if I listen, He will call me to humble and stretch myself — to serve as the “pinky toe” (or wherever He leads me) of the body of Christ in whatever place He is already moving. This in addition to where Jesus wants me to act privately and personally.
- At Young Life Camp they meet people where they are. In Mark 2:17 Jesus said, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” It’s not the mission of Young Life to judge or fix people, but to love them and show them the way to Jesus. God does the rest. To accomplish their calling takes tolerance and authenticity. A few kids spout expletives and ridicule the process. They are loved in return. Many leaders courageously share their stories. Stories of anger, failure, self righteousness, promiscuity, pride, partying and the like. Stories of brokenness; stories like mine and possibly yours. But they don’t stop there. They share how through the valleys and mountaintops, Jesus restores us! He saves us and heals us. They share how much fuller and more abundant life is with Jesus — and the kids see it for themselves and know it is true.
The campers are attracted to the Salt and Light that is all over camp — or they choose to run from it. Whether the campers accept Jesus at camp, later in life, or not at all — they have heard and experienced His Truth. They have seen His reflection in the faces of His children, and it is beautiful. That is something I can definitely bring home to Tallahassee. I hope Pink Reflections (my blog) is a little part of reflecting Jesus to the body and those living outside their purpose.
Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Young Life.