This past week, I went exploring some great uncharted lands, into the vast expanse of the great unknown. Sounds grand, but truth be told, I stayed here in Raleigh the entire week. But I still stand by my statement. I went for an amazing journey into places I have not been.
I'll start with what got me going on this whole idea - Andrew Peterson's new album Counting Stars. I got the email at the beginning of the week that it was going on pre-order. When I clicked on it (and I would encourage you to click here, too), I found to my pleasant surprise that it was packaged together with some other good stuff in seven different tiers. Some of the tiers included an immediate download of the album, even though it is not due out for another month. I simply couldn't resist and dove in. The album was not exactly what I was expecting. The songs for the most part were slow. But they swept me up in their beauty. The lyrics were contemplative but clear as crystal. The musical arrangements were tender at parts and sweeping at others. With each song I listened to, I got lost in treasure after treasure. One of the songs that hit me was "World Traveler". His first verse starts with his desire to get out of his small town as a youth and see the world. In the second, he got his wish, but it didn't compare to the journey he began with his wife, as he traveled the world of her soul and heart. His third verse describes the adventure of his children and the love he has for them. He finishes with a call for us all to travel the world that God has for us. And as I looked out on the week and campers we had, I saw it.
It was elementary week and we had over 80 first time overnight campers. Even beyond that, it became abundantly clear very early on that these children had either not been taught the Scripture very well or perhaps not at all in their churches and homes. They asked question after question, taking shots at all sorts of things in the Bible. We had to draw ourselves together as a staff and target the one thing these kids needed to hear - Jesus Christ died to save them and He was knocking on the doors of their heart, if they would only let Him in. We left that staff meeting with a feeling of both responsibility and excitement at the opportunity. I did my best to spend time with these kids through the week - playing ping pong and carpet ball, going swimming, just talking at Snack Shack. I got a look into their eyes and hearts and quite enjoyed the experience.
Then came the campfire on Thursday night. To the outsider, it probably wouldn't have seemed like much. But I stayed to hear what the children would testify. One child got up and spoke of how he came up on Tuesday and wasn't ready, but now he was. He didn't know Christ as Savior then, but after hearing the testimonies of those who asked Christ into their hearts, he knew that was what he wanted. Other children came up and spoke of what they learned - that our lives are not about living for ourselves, but putting God first and others ahead of them. While many were just repeating the same things in typical elementary fashion, it was refreshing to hear that they were getting it,.
On Friday at the evening banquet, Aaron called all those who had asked Christ to save them this week to come to the front. Twelve young people came up and the Dining Hall erupted. I wonder whether the angels and the saints in heaven didn't join in the celebration. Just as Jesus did 2,000 years ago, He called upon twelve to follow Him, and they came. How good it was to be a part of that!
I was walking down toward the craft cabin when I crossed a boy on his way up. I asked how he was doing and he said that he had just come from the cross at campfire where he had spent some time praying for a safe trip back to Florida. He knew he didn't need to be at a cross to pray, but as there was one there and not many places else, he took the opportunity. He was seeking God with such a simple thing as a trip, but he was seeking Him with child-like faith, a faith that had begun at camp this week as I found out. Already, he was living that faith out, and I was challenged in mine.
Yes, I went on adventures this week. I may not have gone hiking in the Rockies or crossed the oceans or seen the beautiful places in God's creation, but I got to explore childrens' hearts. I got to experience the overwhelming flood of God's love and light as it filled them up and broke through the darkness. If God has me set to stay at New Life Camp for the rest of my life, I will have been on greater journeys than any I could hope to have in New Zealand. The world of the heart and soul that has been set free by the blood of Christ has valleys, hills, forests, and oceans that are far more beautiful to behold. Tomorrow, the adventures begin again. And as I study God's Word and listen to His teaching this weekend, my course is charted, and my sails are unfurled.