This was my eleventh summer on staff with SpringHill Camps. And besides the first one, this was by far the one that affected my life the most.
It’s hard to put words to experiences that hit so deeply, that alter the way you live and change your view on love. What you already know is that I’ve been passionate about “Rocking What I Got” and that my theme of the summer was LOVE. But let me try to explain more. Because the things I learned this summer were for all of us.
1. The Local Church is Life
I’m becoming more convinced that churches are the life-source for entire communities, not just for Christians. When we do Day Camps, I bring a team of the most amazing college students to partner with a local church and reach kids in the community (okay, go ahead and check out my cute staff now):
So, basically, this crew is SpringHill in a box [huge trailer + 30 ft spider mountain + lots of other cars]. We move from church to church, throwing a huge one-week event in the most massive, fun form of partnership you can imagine. I’ve been with most of my churches for 2-3 years now, and this summer, the beauty of what we get to do together really started to sink in. Week after week, as I partnered with my friends to reach kids, and as others from the church kept my team fed, housed, encouraged and loved, I realized that we ALL were getting to experience what it means to be the church in a life-giving, transforming way. If you aren’t deeply rooted in a local church, go find one like my partnerships.
2. Let God Have You, and Let God Love You
Image found here on Pinterest (yes, my new addiction I waited until after camp to start one and I LOVE it)
This summer, there was a point when I finally surrendered. I committed to God to be all-in. I remember it specifically because I was crying my eyes out–telling God I just couldn’t do this job or this life in ministry anymore. Isn’t it funny how our life starts just when we think we’re on the verge of totally falling apart? All along, He wanted me to give it to Him. To give myself to Him.
I’d like to say it was instantaneous, but this thing I’m on with God is a journey. First, I tried to surrender my self-preservation. God is calling me to a radical life- not one that stores up energy in storehouses. When I did that, He gave me more spirit and stamina than I have had in years.
Next, He opened my eyes to His love. Honestly, I thought I was really loved before. Wow. Lesson learned.
Finally, He’s getting all of me. I’m working on surrendering my plans, my life, my love. I’m listening now. And His ways are SO much better anyway.
3. No One Else Is Coming
Of all that we do at Day Camps, reaching kids that no one else is reaching continues to be my heartbeat. When I heard Geoffrey Canada of the Harlem Children’s Zone fame say, “No One Else is Coming” at a conference, I knew we had to use it as a slogan for summer. The premise is this: we can’t wait to impact a child, a neighborhood, a school. Truly, we must live as if this our responsibility, the last chance. No one else is coming.
When one of our little campers was asked what the hardest thing was at home, he said: “helping my mom pay bills to take care of the other kids.” He’s 10. We showered him with love, gave him opportunity after opportunity to play, build self-esteem, find REAL JOY and learn how to pray through life’s tough moments. I wish you could have seen the delight on his face all week.
The little girl I mentor LOVES camp. So of course, I brought her for 2 weeks (and her brothers and cousins). They now know Jesus as their Saviors through Day Camp. Every time I show up in the neighborhood now, more parents and kids are waiting for me at the curb. Oh, how they want someone to love them and share light. They, like so many other kids, have great hope and a new future because of their summers at SpringHill. Just look at her eyes sparkle! I love it!
And that, my friends, ends the long post about summer. I know I didn’t do it justice in words, but one thing is very clear to me: This is just the beginning…