By Aaron E. Ziebarth, Executive Director
We have concluded our programmed weeks of summer camp at Joy El. As I look back, I can think of many children who camp to our summer camps and found the hope of Jesus Christ. I saw how desperately they wanted it.
* Romans 5:8 shows us how much God loves us: “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
* Luke 19:10 makes the purpose of Jesus coming to this earth crystal-clear: “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.”
* And 2 Peter 3:9 reveals the desires of God’s heart: “The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.”
I am privileged to be a part of God’s work at Joy El. I have seen God do amazing things, and occasionally I wonder if He will repeat himself–you know, do something like He did it before. Often I expect Him to do it the same way, perhaps because we can become people of habit?
When I backpack or travel I like to bring a copy of John Stott’s Basic Christianity along. I usually reread a portion of it, and then I pass it along to someone who is seeking the Lord. These words from Stott recently stood out to me: “The point is that we can never take God by surprise. We can never anticipate him. He always makes the first move.”
True to his character, God did something unanticipated once again. During the first week of camp, Mini Camp (and Discovery Day Camp 1, Adventure Camp 1, Community Day Camp 1), God brought 32 children into saving relationships with Himself, and then 17 the second week of camp. Unbelievable and amazing!
One child at Adventure Camp was born addicted to drugs (as his mother was using them). Due to the influence of volunteers in Released Time, he chose to come to camp. He didn’t understand sin, and he didn’t feel loved by anyone. But that changed during his week at camp.
He told a staff member, “I am missing something.” He realized he was missing Jesus. After praying and beginning a relationship with Jesus, he said, “I don’t know how to live like a Christian; can you help me?” So each morning he and the staff member did their devotions together, and he began to learn.
He came to camp angry, and God’s Spirit gave him control over his anger during his week of camp. He left crying because he didn’t want to go home. He loved camp so much.
Stories like these happen quite often. This is the power of God at camp. And we know that angels are rejoicing in heaven for each of the 169 children who began a relationship with Jesus this summer.
As the children go home and consider attending church or participating in Released Time, will you please pray that every child who came to summer camp will pursue further growth in their relationship with Jesus?
Thank you for helping to bring children the hope of Jesus!