Summer is closing and many children will go back to school with great memories of time at camp.
When I was seven years old, Mom and I drove three hours to Marianna, FL for kids' camp. It was to be my first experience.
To say I was terrified would be an understatement!
I had stayed overnight a couple of times with my best friend. But an entire week? Without any one I knew?!! Like most kids, I cried when she dropped me off. And I'm certain she cried as she drove away. But her camp experiences had been so powerful that she wanted that for me, too.
These camps were different. They were church camps. Filled with all the normal daily kid activities (swimming, games, bad food, clubs, etc.) our camps had an added element. Each evening there was a service designed specifically for children.
In fact, that evening service was the central point of this camp!
Faithful volunteer counselors endured long days of rowdy kid nonsense. The scorching FL heat. Long nights with mosquitoes and tiny bunk beds. All just for the opportunity to see scores of children meet Christ during those services.
Those volunteers already knew what I came to know. Reach a CHILD with the Gospel and you impact them for life! No price is too great for seeing that kind of harvest......even in one.
(That's why we responded to the call for help from our missionaries in Italy this summer. They had 100 children from nine different nations gathered, just waiting to hear the Gospel. We were honored to partner with them to share the Good News.)
Mom's hopes for her little girl were completely fulfilled.
I made friends with an older, more experienced camper. Ivy was nine. This was her third time! She and I made the most of every fun activity. But we also loved those services.
As a seven year old child, I had a powerful encounter with Christ that set the course for my life.
"Now, Sheri! That's a rather bold statement. You were only seven years old. Do those 'emotional' experiences ever really stick? Just how 'real' could that have been?"
Well, as I was getting ready for work yesterday I started humming a tune that I didn't recognize right away. I stopped to focus and realized it was the tune to a chorus I learned almost fifty years ago at that very camp.
The words flowed easily from my memory as though I had learned them this week:
To be used of God.....to sing, to speak, to pray.
To be used of God to show someone the way.
I long so much to feel the touch of Your consuming fire.
To be used of God.....is my desire!
My answer to that question? Yes, it sticks. And those encounters are obviously Pretty Real!