One of my favorite movies is Braveheart, the story of a Scottish Knight named William Wallace. In the course of the movie we see horrible injustices perpetrated against the people of Scotland and Wallace's subsequent pursuit of freedom. While I would love to post a clip of Wallace's famous speech from Youtube, some minor language issues will prevent me from doing so. One of the key lines from that speech is "They may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom!"
The sentiment of Wallace expresses well my emotional overload after an intense three days of our Jr. Camp ministry. Each day our Peace family rose early and stayed late to make sure that over 120 children had the best experience possible in this ministry. The goal each year is to provide a camp experience for children who may not be able to afford camp, and ultimately that they will get to know and learn about Jesus. I am fully convinced that we have once again achieved our goal through this ministry. God blessed exceedingly more than we could've dreamed or imagined with 35 young people making decisions of faith and two baptisms!!!
Doing whatever it takes these days to share the good news with children who need to hear is crucial in a world in which they are bombarded with many messages via social interaction and the internet. This information overload can be good at times, but so many times they are receiving the wrong information. This week we had an opportunity to love these children through all of the activities that were provided and our supreme goal remained sharing the good news in all that we said and did. Similar to Wallace, the threat of seeing our people enslaved to this world is worth the expense, inconvenience, and exhaustion that such work often entails.
As with any battle, there are casualties. I feel like Wallace today after the battle seeing all of the sacrifice that was made and challenges that we experienced. We often do not publish the challenges for fear that they will detract from God's greater glory, but in this case I believe that it contributes even more.
-It started on the Thursday before camp when my laptop crashed. It was restored on Tuesday night (big thanks to my wife and some free hours of support from Apple), but by then much of the camp had "sailed" making several plans and preparation out of reach for 2/3 of the camp.
-We also suffered a pretty powerful lightning strike one day that fried some electronics/networking of the church. We are still sorting out what was affected by such a strike.
-Our older students were meeting in the lower part of the church when we realized that the A/C unit completely and utterly died during camp.
-Among these challenges, we faced thunderstorms every day of camp. For many ministries this would be a minor setback, but we do major outdoor activities that were very difficult as it not only rained but hailed at times!
This gives you just a glimpse of some of the things that transpired over the past three days. There was much more, but suffice it to say the spiritual warfare was more intense than I have ever faced with such an event confirming how much was at stake this year.
Unlike the story of Wallace who was eventually captured, drawn, and quartered, we experienced some amazing victories!
-Seeing 35 children make decisions of faith was absolutely incredible and totally worth it!
-Experiencing the glory of the body of Christ as we spent many hours together in fellowship, under stress, and often exhausted.
-Reaching new families who are looking for a church. Once again, I spoke with families seeking a fellowship.
-And, yes, we had a lot of fun! It is ok to be silly, wear watermelon socks, jump around on stage, and love these kids with the love of Christ!
I could go on and on, but the bottom line is that we remain laser focused on the goal of the gospel. May we continue to "...cast aside all that entangles us..." and celebrate lives changed by the Good News.