I helped counsel at a junior high/high school Christian camp in Northern California this past Thanksgiving. It was cool. The end, thanks for reading.
In all honesty though, it was an amazing experience. Along with a couple of other new counselors, this was my first time ever counseling and working with this age group, and it was immensely eye-opening. Before the camp I felt so out of touch with what middle school/high schoolers were into nowadays and what they may be struggling through. I kept thinking: how do I relate to them? How can I help them understand their faith in Christ more? I prayed for months before the camp, asking others to help me pray that I would not bring large expectations of myself and of the kids there. I wanted to surrender to God and let him lead me and use me during the time I had with them.
Of course, that’s exactly what God did. Through other more experienced counselors and various events in the camp He helped temper my expectations. God provided me avenues to see him be glorified despite my inexperience (ex. experiencing one of my small group kids confess Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior). If I wrote about everything that went on during the camp this blog post would go on forever, so I want to touch on just a couple truths that I came to understand during my time there.
The Body of Christ is Vast
During my time counseling I came to see personally how unique and extensive the Body of Christ is. While working together with all the counselors at the camp, it was inspiring to see how all of us from different local churches and different backgrounds can all come and serve this camp and work towards a common goal: to have God be glorified in whatever we do and to reflect His glory towards the kids that we serve. It was encouraging to see that no matter how different we were that the core biblical doctrines that we believed in where all in agreement.
What besides the saving grace of Christ can unite so many sinners of so many different backgrounds together to beautifully speak into each other’s lives! Praise be to God that we can encourage each other with each of our unique experiences.
Fellowship is Powerful
When I say “fellowship”, it’s not just hanging out. It’s an active, intentional time getting to know other brothers/sisters in Christ and sharing each other’s burdens as fellow members of the Body. Koinonia.
κοινωνία: “Communion, joint participation; the share which one has in anything, participation, a gift jointly contributed, a collection, a contribution, etc. It identifies the idealized state of fellowship and unity that should exist within the Christian church, the Body of Christ.”
A gift jointly contributed. Wow.
One of the things that I actually enjoyed the most was to have our debrief of our day (even though we did this usually at the dead of night…when we’re all already exhausted and all we wanted was sleep…). It was kind of our time as counselors to have more intentional fellowship time and really share what work God has enabled us to do that day, praises we could share, or just to be silly and joke around with each other. I remember laughing so hard the last night we had together as we had our last debrief of the camp. We all just joked around and enjoyed each other’s company as we reflected on the craziness that we had the past week. For a little while that night I just sat there and just soaked up the moment we had together, as we all jointly contributed to this blessed time of sharing in each other’s burdens and joy.
Presence is Powerful
The first couple days that I was at the camp, I was struggling hard. I had a small group of sixth and seventh grade guys and as expected, I had no idea how to relate to them. The time we set aside to discuss the message was not very fruitful, and it definitely was hard to get them focused and have any substantial talk. However, something that I learned while discussing with other counselors about my struggles was that sometimes, just being a presence in their life and showing love to them is more powerful than having a long discussion of their faith with them. To simply lead by example as a big brother to these younger kids instead of pushing them to “take things seriously”, since they probably get enough of that at home. I was asked to think back to when I was that age, and see if I remember more theology I learned in middle school or if I remember more the relationships with other brothers and sisters I had. The answer was pretty clear.
Overall, in my reflection I realized that a good verse that summarizes everything I just said in John 13, where Christ gives a new commandment to his disciples at the last feast before his betrayal and eventual crucifixion:
“…Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me, and just as I said to the Jews, so now I also say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35)
Our calling to make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19) of course does not simply mean for us to preach with our mouths the good news but to show the world who we believe in by our actions also. (James 2:18) By who we believe in we as believers are joined together, by our union in the Body of Christ we fight the good fight together, and by our presence the world will know us by our love.
I helped counsel at a junior high/high school Christian camp in Northern California this past Thanksgiving. It was cool. The end…thanks for reading.