By Christa Hughes, Youth Outreach
We count the little successes. We hold fast to the hope that God is working in the hearts of children. It can be easy to believe that life change only happens miraculously overnight. But often we find in youth ministry that it is the answer to the simplest of prayers that shows God’s character of patience and faithfulness. Our heavenly Father will walk with each child every step of their journey.
Winston, 14, received the joy of an answered prayer. Last year, he was part of “Work Crew” - a team of young teenagers (some having been campers in the past) who now serve behind the scenes at UGM Camp. However, this summer, Winston was privileged with the job of junior cabin leader for the first time.
Trevor, the senior cabin leader, met with Winston and the other leader, Jonathan, for a month and a half to game plan for that week’s summer camp. Winston expressed his desire for the kids to really get into the Bible and “to be focused on the preaching and the sermons, and God really answered that. I just wanted them to learn more about God.”
This week’s camp theme was about the Gospel of Mark. The chapels focused on Jesus’ time on earth, his healing and his miracles, and what set Jesus apart as the Son of God. Every morning after breakfast, the campers completed activity booklets that went over the teachings in Mark, with quizzes, word-searches and puzzles. The campers were able to learn about Jesus in a creative way.
Trevor explained his experience with the first day’s devotional time:
“It was actually really neat because my last couple years I have had a very hard time getting the kids to work on the books and to pay attention during the chapel time. I remember walking into the cabin and just standing there, thinking, ‘Okay, what do I do?’ Then Winston just walks up behind me and goes, ‘Hey! do you need help on your workbook?’ and they’re all like ‘Yeah!’ And so, I just said ‘Oh! Great!’ and I went and did the same thing, and then Jonathon, our other leader, did as well.”
After that morning, Winston pulled Trevor aside: “Trevor! God answered my prayer!”
“Wait, which one?”
“Well I just asked that we could minister to these kids well and that they are actually listening and want to sit down and talk about their books.”
Trevor was a little worried that it might be a fluke for the first day, but for the rest of the week, their cabin enjoyed each morning’s devotional time. “It is kind of hectic, but it is really kind of cool when you are on one side of the room and a kid is like ‘Winston! Trevor! Jonathon! Come over here and help me with this page!’”
For one of the students, Jesse, the booklets encouraged his learning style. While sitting still might be a difficult challenge for 4th grade boy, Jesse said completing the booklets each morning was one of his favorite things to do at camp.
Winston asked Jesse why he enjoyed chapel. Jesse explained that his family used to go to church but it costs too much gas money. His family hadn’t gone for a while, but chapel reminded him of church, and he loved it. As Christ the Redeemer Church is in the school’s neighborhood, Winston naturally invited him to church the following Sunday.
Sometimes, it is the smallest little action that can make all the difference. While Winston and Trevor may have had an exhausting week of camp, their grins showed their joyful knowledge that God was working through them—and God’s work isn’t finished yet.
Every week at camp, the staff sees new and old campers. Some get to hear the gospel for the first time; for others, that week of camp becomes another way God re-encounters a child. Relationships strengthen and the local church is able to display the love of Jesus. And we are confident that God, who begins the good work in each camper’s heart, will bring it to completion in Christ.
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