What a great week we had at Metro Camp this summer! Out of ten years of camp, this year is definitely my favorite. About 60% of the children who came with us were not affiliated with Shady Oaks, so we didn’t really know what to expect. Would the children get along? How much drama would there be? What behavior issues would we have? In the weeks leading to camp, I prayed that God would provide wisdom in these situations as they arose at camp. But guess what?! These issues didn’t come up at all! Our Shady Oaks children opened their arms and hearts to the visiting children. Everyone made friends. There was no drama. We didn’t have any behavior struggles. God moved in big ways!
But greater than that, God moved in children’s lives and hearts. We had five children accept Jesus as their Savior that week. Four of those children attended camp on full scholarships. I want to share the story of two of these kiddos:
On Saturday at camp, the gospel is shared very intentionally in worship and Bible Study. That night, the kiddos went to bed at 11:00 as usual. In the boys’ cabin, four campers were together on a top bunk having a whispered conversation. The counselors could tell God was moving, so they let it continue. About 12:30am on Sunday morning, one of the counselors checked on them. He discovered that two of our boys had used a flashlight and the Bible to answer the questions of two visiting boys. Those two visitors gave their lives to Christ in that bunkbed at about 12:30am! What a blessing!
When we returned to the church, I was telling Brad Orr about that situation. He shared a book that he had been reading with me. It was Letters to the Church by Francis Chan. In it, Chan talks about “releasing” children. When we read in Matthew 18 about Jesus’ reaction to children, we can see that Jesus highly valued children. I think God values children and their role in His Kingdom more than we do sometimes. God sees them as more than an obligation or inconvenience.
Chan shares about a ministry in Africa that uses 250,000 children to go into unreached people groups to preach the Gospel and heal the sick. In 2017, these children went to 169 unreached people groups! They share the Gospel in places where adult missionaries are killed! These children are transforming villages! Chan asks if we have been wasting our most precious resource – our children.
I agree with Francis Chan that we need to start reminding our children of the Power of God that is in them. We need to raise our expectations of our children. They can be powerful forces for Jesus! We saw this power in our children at Metro Camp. I don’t want to let that experience fade away as a one-time thing, but desire to see our children fired up to tell others about Jesus! Will you join me in praying for our children and students this year, that they will recognize the power of the Holy Spirit in them and will boldly share Jesus with their classmates and friends? Our children ARE the future of the church. I think it’s time we release them to do God’s work.