“I remember being so shy and quiet when I first came to camp that I almost didn’t come back” Marta said. “Now God has given me the opportunity to speak into the lives of girls who face the same challenges.”
When Marta first joined the 4.12 Program, she was a very reserved student who did not want to be at camp. During her first summer serving as a 4.12 student, I served on the summer leadership team at Joy El, a Christian Retreat Center in PA, as the Female Junior Staff Coordinator. This shepherding role is responsible for the female 4.12 students who serve during summer camp. Part of this role includes meeting with each female student one-on-one during the weeks they serve to mentor and disciple them in their walk with the Lord. This allowed me to have the privilege of meeting with Marta one-on-one during the first summer and talking to her about some of the struggles she was facing. To this day I still remember how few words she spoke during our first one-on-one meeting. However, I continued to meet with her as she served, trusting that the Lord would continue to work in her life. I prayed she would find boldness and a desire to serve at camp. After her first year, I was unsure if Marta would continue in the 4.12 program, but the Lord began working in her, and she rejoined her second year. This is when I saw that she was starting to notice what God was doing in her life.
As the Lord continued to work, Marta continued to serve at Joy El. He also led me to return to the role of Female Junior Staff Coordinator for two more summers and this opened the door for me to continue meeting with Marta. Each summer I saw her continue to grow and develop in her relationships with staff, campers, and Christ. During her later years in the program, she stepped up into multiple leadership positions and even began pouring into younger students in the program. We often looked back on that first one-on-one meeting and would reminisce on how far God had brought us in our mentoring relationship. Then something happened that neither Marta nor I expected.
In my current role as the Director of the 4.12 Leadership Training Program, I now supervise and hire for the role of Female Junior Staff Coordinator. When the position became available for this past summer, I began praying over who would be able to step in to shepherd the 4.12 female students. The Lord quickly brought Marta’s name to mind. When I approached her about the position, joyful tears came into her eyes and she began praying about the offer. Soon after, Marta accepted the position and this opened the door for her to have a very fruitful ministry with the female students during the summer.
At the end of summer, Marta excitedly told me about how God had been working through the meetings she was having with one student in particular.
“She reminds me so much of myself” Marta said. “I can see little level one me sitting on that same porch and needing the Lord’s courage. It makes me so happy that I can now be that person for someone else.” Through their one-on-ones, Marta was able to come alongside this first-year student and encourage her in the same way I had once been able to do for her.
It has been over 7 years since Marta and I first met. However, through God’s power He has now multiplied her ministry to mentor and lead over 40 girls to more deeply pursue Him. Beyond this summer, Marta has also felt a strong calling in her heart to pursue full time ministry. I am excited to see her continue to build the kingdom of God through ministering to His people.
I am grateful for the discipleship that happens in the lives of campers and staff each summer here at Joy El. Through hundreds of one-on-one conversations, God is changing the lives of many others like Marta. Thank you for your prayers toward the work God is doing!