For the past 27 years each summer I have packed students into cars, vans, and buses to attend a week of camp. In most cases we have driven over hundreds of miles to get there. So the question is why would I willingly subject myself to long days filled with teenagers and short nights of sleep? The answers are many. Relationships between God and others flourish when a student is taken away from the routine of their environment, i.e. electronics etc. It has been stated that many times it takes a young person 15 different ways of hearing the Gospel presented before it becomes clear to them. For thousands of students camp is that place in where they make personal decisions to follow Christ for the first time or rededicate themselves to following Him.
This past week 18 youth, mostly from Crosswalk, packed into vans headed to Camp Pondo located in the Big Bear Mountains, in Southern California. The camp theme was “Rogues to Rescue” highlighting the stories from the Gospels in which Jesus reached out to those who were considered outcasts. We explored the relational brokenness of the Women at the Well, the religious emptiness of Nicodemus, the desperation of the Demonic and the need to be restored from the story of Peter. I believe we all at times can identify with these rogues .The word Rogue means worthless, dishonest, vagrant. Without Christ in our lives we are lost and hopeless, each of us needs to be rescued by the passionate unconditional love of Christ. I myself am thankful that I was rescued from my brokenness and emptiness 36 years ago when I accepted Christ. My prayer for each of you is that you all experience the unending passionate rescue of our Lord Jesus Christ. Those of us who have been rescued have a story to tell others who are still living without Hope. We each have people in our lives that we can point to the Rescuer of lost, broken people. That’s what this summer is all about, the Gospel going forward!
The best moment for me was when three of our students responded to the invitation to begin a personal relationship with God. I was able to stand with each of them as they spoke out loud prayers from their heart to God. God did amazing things in the hearts of the students this week. Here are some quotes straight from the students themselves:
- “I love worshiping with other students my age, it makes me realize I am not the only Christian.”
- “Tonight when I go home I am going to go in my room and pray: Dear God, thank you for letting me go to Camp Pondo so I could meet you and get to know you.“
- “My life is never going to be the same because of asking God to be in relationship with me this week.”
- “I am having a hard time putting into words but I feel different and I know that I am changed.”
- “Each of us have brokenness in our stories that only God can heal”
- “Anna-Marie, can you get me a Bible ? – I want to keep learning about God’s adventures.”
In closing I would like to thank each person who participated: fundraisers, transportation, and most importantly the prayer for all of us as we were there.