Camp was a blast!
My first week long camping experience in the IGRC took place at the Beulah Youth Institute in Eldorado, Illinois. I served as the evening preacher. Reverends Sara and Gabe Wanck served as the morning Bible teachers. Both were raised at Beulah Camp. This was my first extended stay at Beulah. There are three things that stood out to me:
1. The hunger and enthusiasm the kids showed for the gospel.
2. The passion, richness, and depth of the worship.
3. The low participation of our clergy at the camp.
One evening I felt led to extend the invitation to Christian discipleship. Yes, an ALTAR CALL, for youth to make a first-time commitment to Jesus Christ. There were between twelve and fifteen youth that came forward to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Several others raised their hands and prayed but did not feel comfortable coming forward.
On another evening several youths re-dedicated their lives to Christ and at least four stated that they sensed a call into full time Christian service. How exciting!
This was one week of camp and at one location. I have heard reports that similar experiences took place at Little Grassy, and at East Bay. I have also been told that the IGRC camping ministry has a rich history of helping youth enter into a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Camp is also instrumental in helping others discern a “call into ministry.” Several pastors talk about hearing their own personal call at church camp. Why are there so few pastors active in our camping ministries?
Before going to sleep I thanked the Lord of the harvest for the churches, parents, volunteers, camp staff, counselors, and pastors that were used to help create a climate for the gospel to fall on fertile soil. As a seasoned evangelist I know that there are many links in the process that enables folks to say yes to Jesus. As I offered my personal thanksgiving I could not help wondering why more of our clergy are not present at camp to help reap the abundant available spiritual harvest.
Low hanging fruit is easy to pick and is just as good as the fruit at the top of the tree. I re-learned that lesson a few years ago while picking apples with my grandson. As I was carefully searching for the “most desirable fruit” he quickly filled his bag with low hanging fruit or fruit that had already fallen. I was prepared to move to the next tree, in search of the perfect apple, when I heard him announce that his bag was full.
As I examined his bulging bag I discovered that he had done a pretty good job of selecting usable fruit. I asked him how he filled his bag so fast and he said, “There are millions of them right here on the ground. I didn’t even have to pull them off the tree, just pick them up!” Lesson learned. Class dismissed.
Summer Camp is a time to pick low hanging fruit. While at camp I clearly heard Jesus asking for more laborers. The harvest is still plentiful and more workers, especially Clergy, are needed. All of our camps will benefit and grow as we rediscover them as fertile fields for making disciples of Jesus Christ for the transformation of the world. I had a blast! I hope that you will plan on becoming more active in our summer camping ministry. Your participation can change lives.