I'm finally home from another great summer of camp! This summer I worked for Fuge in Glorieta, New Mexico as an 11th and 12th grade Bible study leader and led the volleyball and battleball tracks. I would say, looking back, it was probably my best summer of camp thus far. I've worked 4 summers now, and even though each summer was great and special in its own way, this summer was definitely a summer of growth and experience for me personally. I was challenged everyday by my peers and our leadership staff, and because of their example, it made me want to try harder and strive to be more like Christ in everything that I did. I was definitely a better staffer this summer because of who the Lord chose for me to work with. We had an awesome team out there and that showed in so much of the ministry we did.
I was in New Mexico for 8 ½ weeks and had 7 weeks of students. The first 5 weeks we have about 1000 students each week and then the last two we shrunk down to about 600. It's hard for me to believe just how many students I came in contact with in such a short period of time, and the things I was able to see Him do in their lives. It was incredible to watch students come to grips with addictions and admit bitterness they harbored, and then to watch the Lord begin the process of freeing them from that bondage, or to watch the Lord draw a student whose heart was so hardened against the Gospel to Himself. I was able to step back and watch 34 11th and 12th graders who are often easily swayed to be selfish and self centered (aren't we all?!), completely abandon their own ambitions and desires, for a sweet little girl with down syndrome who loved more than I ever knew a person could. There were many moments where I would get choked up because I was watching students minister to students which is one of my favorite parts of camp ministry, and see the potential that each one of them has to impact the Kingdom and to do things in this world that have eternal significance beyond what we can truly comprehend. I really can't believe I got paid to do what I did all summer, and I'm so humbled and thankful the Lord gave me the opportunity to serve for another summer of camp.
My staff this summer was so amazing and there isn't one person that I didn't walk away from without having learned something. I had two incredible roommates that made me laugh when I was struggling and who were just constant support and encouragers. They were such a blessing, more times than they probably realize. My director and so many people on our team were so centered on prayer and were so burdened for students and people on site this summer. It was beautiful to see and to know that I could turn to them for prayer anytime I needed it. There were quite a few occasions where we as a staff would find ourselves praying for specific students while trying to hold back tears. We really did bear one another's burdens this summer and now I feel like I have 35 new family members. I was never in need of love or encouragement because the Lord placed so many people that that came naturally for, and it showed me so much about myself and the walls I've put up toward other people over the years. It's definitely a process, but perhaps some of those walls began to be broken down this summer.
As a staff we faced some difficult things from pretty early on in the summer. Things that were really sad, things that were scary, and things that were just plain difficult to understand, but each time something new came up, we just gave it to the Lord. We were so tired and so busy with the craziness of camp, other than giving up, there really wasn't anything left for us to do but surrender it all to Him. He is so faithful! The Lord brought us through so much of the unexpected and brought us all closer together in the midst of it all. It was difficult the first couple weeks when it seemed that at every turn something scary or sad was happening, whether that be things with our students, our parents back home, or the unexpected happening to our Glorieta family. The Lord was so faithful to renew our hope and to continually give us the strength to continue ministering to the students He brought to us. It was only because of Him that we could go on, and only because of Him that we were able to be joyful in the midst of trials.
The 36 of us lived in a house on Glorieta's campus, tucked in one of the most beautiful mountain landscapes. The weather was awesome, no humidity and low temperatures for at least part of the day, each day. Glorieta is near Santa Fe which is one of the most spiritually dark places I've ever been. Those people need Jesus, and there's just not enough Christians out there to show Him to them. Santa Fe is a very "spiritual" place where everyone believes there's something bigger out there, but they're looking for God in the most random places. We had a bunch of M-Fuge groups go out into the community, while Centrifuge students stayed on campus, and they just had a huge impact. A few went and did habitat for humanity projects in the city, some went to nursing homes and built relationships there, while others went to apartment complexes and parks and spent time sharing the Gospel there. It was so neat to see things that we prayed for, salvations on sight, and conversations, come to fruition as the summer went on. God is good and answered so many of our prayers. I pray that next summer's M-fuge groups can continue the work that was started there this summer.
It was neat working a combo camp with X-fuge attached to it because we got to switch up our bands and speakers almost every week. Kim and Tony Merida were there for two weeks with Addison Road, and that was awesome. Addison Road jumped right into camp full force, and it was just nice to have a little piece of home with Kim and Tony being there. Wes Hamilton was the speaker the week that Charlie Hall was there and holy cow they brought it. So much of what Charlie was singing about and Wes preached about, had to do with freedom and just being made new in Christ, which is exactly what so many teenagers need to hear, knowing that the sin in their life doesn't have to define who they are, through Christ they can overcome anything. It's insane what students are struggling with and the pain they're carrying. That week was incredible for me personally as well. Besides Charlie Hall and Addison Road, we had the amazingly awesome Daniel Doss Band play for a week, and then the last 2 weeks of camp we had the Trae Castles Band lead worship. All four of those bands are incredible and everyone and their mom should check them out and support their ministries because they were just great…. Well except for drummers who kick stage managers and guitarists who hurt people, but that's a story for another day.
Overall, this summer was a reminder of God's faithfulness and a time where I could get away and remember the simplicity and beauty of grace. I think I lost sight of so much while I was in seminary. It's true that I learned a lot while at DTS, but I kind of got lost in all too. When you're talking to a student about the craziness of her life, all of sudden eschatology, ecclesiology, and all that other mumbo jumbo doesn't matter anymore. What matters most is that Christ died for you and wants to have a relationship with you, and He wants to save you from this bondage you've found yourself in…
I have much to be thankful for. The Lord blessed me so much this summer and allowed me to watch Him work in ways I never would have imagined. When I left in May I was sort of dreading the summer, but I know now that as I find myself back home, looking for a job, and unsure where to go next, that He is faithful, that He is sovereign, and that He does have my very best interests at heart. I know I can be at peace.