by Aaron and Stephanie Ziebarth
From Aaron: We are right in the middle of summer camp season. This means a lot of hot dogs, chicken nuggets, pizza (and some vegetables too). It means archery, swimming, giant swing, splashground, Adventure Village, cabin bible studies and chapel. Our staff has been going all out, serving campers. Most excitedly lives are being changed.
A highlight of our week is the closing parent (and grandparent program).
This last week two of my children were at camp. My wife wrote about her experience on Friday night and I want to share this with you – it will give you a glimpse of how God is working at Joy El.
Last night I remembered afresh how fun it is to be inspired by young people. “Out of the mouths of babes” is a popular phrase, originating in Matthew 21:26 and referring to those times when we are surprised by the wisdom of youth. Last night it might not have been as much wisdom as innocence—yet aren’t the two often linked?
This all happened at the closing program for Jumpstart 1 (for sixth through ninth graders) at Camp Joy El (www.joyelcamps.org). I was there to pick up my son and daughter, and I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Here are some highlights:
Worship: Led by a few of the college-aged camp staff members, the students were very involved: jumping, raising hands in praise, doing actions that accompanied the words, even putting their arms around each other and swaying.
Scripture recitation: The cabin groups took turns sharing the Bible verses they had memorized during the week. It was neat to see both junior high girls and boys doing this. There was the silly “Queen of England” accent. However, there was also the group, comprised of half Taiwanese campers, who quoted John 8:36 in both Mandarin and English. What a cultural bonus!
Testimonies: Two young people shared how God had worked in their lives that week. One young lady with long, red curls approached the microphone with her written testimony in hand and her junior counselor by her side. As she emotionally struggled to get out the words, a woman in the crowd said, “Oh, it’s OK, honey!” and her junior counselor rubbed her back. But, between the young lady and her junior counselor, she shared a powerful testimony about how God had worked in her life, bringing her great healing from a trauma she had experienced. Someone in the crowd gave a loud, “Amen!” before everyone burst into applause. The young man who followed shared a testimony just as powerful and appreciated.
Overall, the whole experience was utterly edifying. I had visions of church and how it’s so easy to get comfortable, standing stock-still during worship, sitting quietly during testimonies and sermons. These young people were actively engaged from start to finish. We can all learn from that. We can all learn from their unhindered innocence and enthusiasm.
As I departed the worship center, I ran into a friend and her daughter. The daughter giggled, “I like the lost-and-found part. They make it such a production!” I nodded and smiled in agreement.
Even the lost-and-found part of the program was fun last night. I can’t wait to go back next week, when my younger daughter is a camper.
[Originally published at www.echopilot.com]