For this week’s post, I’ve asked area director and camp speaker at Washington Family Ranch Creekside Mariah Warner to share a story about her experience at camp. It’s an incredible perspective of what goes on behind the curtain at camp and the amazing opportunity that the camp speaker has to share (and listen!) with those attending campI begin each week at camp not by speaking but by listening. In fact I think the camp speaker should really be called the camp listener. Leaders share the hurts and the hopes of their kids. Kids share their stories and their pains. Summer staff and work crew constantly want to share their testimonies of the Lord's faithfulness in their lives. I hear assignment team kids saying lines from program in the halls and spouses praying over us as we head out to camp. Before the club message, I hear one last thing. Kids begin singing “Your Love is Deep” or another song lifting up Jesus' name. They start the week unfamiliar with the tune and not sure of what the lyrics mean, but by the end of the week I can hear their voices booming as they stand outside waiting for the club room doors to open. Then after a day of listening to people, I step out on stage and listen for the voice of the One who made those people. He whispers bolder truths than I feel comfortable sharing. He prompts me to remember stories from my middle school time that I have long forgotten. I hear Jesus whisper in my ear possible conversations that may have happened at creation or at the cross. I have one crucial job. Be the middle man. My hope and prayer every minute is to simply stay out of the way as the gates of heaven flow from my mouth and hope washes over kids — brown kids, hurting kids, tall kids, quiet kids, grown-up kids, bearded middle school kids, kids with green hair, kids with braces, kids on crutches and any other kid. The words aren't as important as the WORD. With the Bible in hand, I watch as walls come crashing down and kids come rushing to the throne. And at the end of each day, tired from hearing the hurt, sharing the hope and trusting the Source, I curl up in my bed and whisper, "Please, Lord, let's do it again."On day three when the sin talk is given in the morning and the cross talk is given that night, many people see my face. Hundreds and hundreds of kids and leaders. Often times in ministry, what isn't seen is as important if not more important than what is seen. For example, on day three, everyone sees me on stage speaking while behind the curtains the program team sits and prays while I speak. They pray over my words; they pray over the room; they pray over each student and leader; and they pray over all that is to come for these young ones. We pray not only for these kids to meet Jesus, but we pray for the kids whom they one day will lead to Jesus.At the end of the week we have a special moment that’s cause for celebration. Every family has a time of celebration, and every army has a battle to fight. We celebrate as a family when captives are set free and the lame walk. Our friends reading this blog may not get to stand with me on stage or put your hand on the curtain during club, but know that this morning we handed out nearly 150 Bibles to new believers. I looked them in the face and said, “Someone you might never meet bought this for you. It is that important and so are you.”To you, dear friends, know that kids you may never meet have met a God they can never forget, and it is happening all over the world at this very moment.
Washington Family Ranch Creekside opened its doors in 2011 and has the unique opportunity to specifically host middle school kids. Learn more at washingtonfamilyranch.younglife.org