Last week was one of the highlights of my ministry. I spoke at a camp in Orlando, Florida for a church from South Georgia. It was not the biggest camp I have ever done. In fact, was one of the smaller ones. It’s not even the first camp I have done in Orlando, although this church went to Walt Disney World. The last church went to Wet and Wild. Space Mountain > Lazy River and Sunburn. The hotel we did the camp at was a pain to deal with, but that did not even matter. Satan showed up long before we did. We faced some crazy opposition.
It wasn’t the flashy production or stupid camp games that made this week great. We really did not have any of that. (We did have Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles so that helped!) God has always shown Himself strong. When opposition comes, He just comes even stronger.
We shared some awesome moments together. Our time started with looking at the story of Zach Sobiach, living a story worth telling, and what happens when God rewrites our story. My little brother got to share his story and talk about being a friend that would cut holes in rooftops to get our friends to Jesus, We talked about about the unending love of a Savior, and refusing to live a maybe life. We ended our time talking about dreaming God-size dreams for our lives, and spent the day at Disney.
What had happened at camp really hit me after most of the group went home. Some of the students stayed behind to go to Animal Kingdom the next day, and asked if they could hang out with us on Twitter.
Walking from the Kilimanjaro Safari to Everest, Cheyenne and I fell a few steps behind the group (I’m a slow walker after a few 4 hour of sleep nights). She said, “Terry, I want you to know that this week changed my life.” I love my job! There is nothing greater than being on the front row of life change. Now, I know Jesus is who really changed her life, but He chose to use me to tell His story, and that blows my mind.
Cheyenne came to camp because her best friend, Kelly, invited her to camp. I spoke about the Cross on Wednesday night, and after the invitation the students went back to their rooms, and Kelly got to lead her best friend to Christ!
Life change happened for a few reasons:
The Table was set for Her.
People Prayed. People gave. People stayed up all night to drive a bus. People made food. Parents stretched budgets. Youth workers took off work. All of that set the table for students to hear the gospel. Students were called into ministry. Lives recommitted. Cheyenne heard about Jesus because all of that happened!
Camp was Awesome!
We planned a camp that not just students would want to come to, but they would want to invite their friends. Students also got to serve hurting families at Give Kids the World. And, HELLO, camp ended with watching the fireworks at Magic Kingdom! Jesus said in Luke 14, The Parable of the Great Feast, in verse 23 “…‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full.'” I think we forget that we have to be compelling. Jesus didn’t say to tell the people that we are having bad food and to come over, he said hey there is a feast, and it’s gonna be awesome, come and eat! Not only was the table set, good stuff was served on it!
Someone took the time to make Disciples not just create a Youth Group.
Kelly knew that camp would be a place where her friends would not just have a great time, but be exposed to her Savior. This did not happen because someone just filled the calendar with stuff, but rather were missional in raising up found people that find people. She had awesome parents, who I met, that poured into her.
Over 20 years ago someone said to me, be sure you can speak to this room full of 500 Kids.
In an old church sanctuary, kids that came to church on buses were gathered. Some people, like Mark DeWeese, believed in me, and my calling enough to allow me to preach for the first time as a 15 year old. A few years later a youth ministry veteran named Allen Wilson let me speak before the 500 kids in his youth group, and took a risk on me. Without guys like Mark and Allen, there may have not been a Cheyenne. Take a risk on some kids this week.
I have seen thousands of students respond to the gospel, but I will never forget Cheyenne, and her friend Kelly who invited her to go to camp.
(By the way, we are in the early stages of planning a week (or two) of camp next summer in Orlando please comment or email me if you want on the short list. My boys in Satellites and Sirens are already on board. I’ve already talked to Mickey Mouse. It’s gonna be stellar.)
If you are doing your own camp for students this summer or preparing already for back to school events, be sure to set the table.