As a young actor about to head off into the dark, cruel, real world of the American theatre, I have often wrestled with the old adage above. “You don’t have to go into ministry to do ministry.” I know this to be true of course, and I have seen and heard about many examples of this in my life, but very few hit as close to home as this last week did.
This past week, my college roommate, and one of my best and strongest brothers in Christ took the stage as Jack Kelly in Broadway’s new hit musical, Newsies. Not only that, but I was lucky enough to win the ticket lottery and see him perform in his first evening performance as a Broadway star. Out of probably one hundred names, my name was chose. The Lord was smiling on me that day.
I sat in the audience and marveled at what a rare feat this was for a young actor, to have only graduated college three months prior, and now to be headlining one of Broadway’s hottest shows. This is not something that happens everyday, or ever for that matter. From the start I had a feeling that the Lord was doing something really special, although I was unable to see how at the time.
During the performance, I sat next to his fiancé and we began talking about what a wild ride this has been. She began to explain to me, as silly as it sounds, how much his Twitter account had been blowing up with followers over the past week. In just one week, he had gained nearly 1,000 followers on Twitter. For Kanye West, this is a normal day, but for a kid from Ohio who just got out of college, this is crazy. At first, I simply viewed this as a cool statistic about how popular my friend was getting. But then, as I stood outside after the show watching him sign autographs, I began to realize the spiritual implications of what was going on here.
Every night, when he takes the stage in front of over 1,000 people at the Nederlander Theater, he is gaining influence. In our culture that is overly saturated with negative news media and social media, he has the chance to be a positive force in those mediums. He has the opportunity to be a positive role model for the young actors who come and see the show. He can tweet Bible verses that go out to more and more people each day. He is now a leader in the Broadway community, and therefore, one of the more influential people in all of New York.
The sheer potential for influence that began to flood my mind was almost too much to handle, and as I watched my brother sign autographs and take pictures, I realized that the Lord could not have picked a better person for the job. His ability to meet people, and talk with them, and make then feel comfortable and loved is truly a gift that the Lord has given him, and now he has the ability, and responsibility to exercise it on a much larger scale.
This testimony was an answer to prayer for me, showing that we all have a place to serve people on their journey towards Christ. Some are presenters of the Gospel, and some are simply meant to be influential and grab the attention of the masses, while others are meant to grab the attention of an individual. We all have a different place to serve and a different calling to fulfill. The Lord has callings to give out and favor to bestow, now if only His people would open their hearts to receive their anointing, and run to fulfill their mission.
Go see NEWSIES!
Sometimes it is so clear when God orchestrates something on our lives, or someone. Very few places have I experienced this more powerfully then at camp. I view it like this. Each one of us, as a child of God plays a different melody with the lives we lead. Our differing strengths and gifts and the way we relate to one another provide the instruments needed in order to create this melody. And out there, all over the universe there are billions of other melodies walking around, and God as the divine orchestrator will bring our melody in line with another to create a beautiful harmony, so that our life creates a dynamic, sweetly blissful opus that not only is a blessing to others, but it brings glory to God.
There was one summer where this happened to me unmistakably. I showed up to high school camp one summer already knowing every single camper on my team, except for one girl, we’ll call her Jamie. Jamie was a sweet girl, shy, with beautifully circular eyes. We met one another, and for some reason, I had the hardest time for the whole first day remembering her name, so I made it a point to always say hello to her whenever I saw her.
I cam to find during the audition process that she was a talented dancer as well, and when we were casting late one night it came down to deciding between her and one other girl for the final spot in the ‘specialty dance’ group, a group that would spend almost all of their rehearsal time with me.
The specialty dance is always one of my favorite parts about camp. I get to work with eight to twelve of the most talent dancers in camp, it’s a great artistic and ministry opportunity that you don’t get with the larger groups of twenty or bigger.
While we were casting, we originally made the decision to go with the other girl, who I knew from years previous, so I thought she would be a safer choice. But then, right before I got up to go to bed, the director told me that she needed the girl we had just cast for a different role in the show. So we made the adjustment, and at the last second, Jamie was added to my group, making sure that we would spend almost all our rehearsal time with one another for the rest of the week.
As the week went on, Jamie and I continued to run into one another. On Tuesday night, the counselors threw a dance. But not any normal dance, normal dances are not allowed at camp. This dance was a surprise wedding reception for a lucky chosen bride and groom. We sent to campers to change, and us counselors scrambled to set up lights, streamers, music, and a dance floor, as well as choosing the wedding party, planning the schedule for the reception, and of course, creating an entire wedding slide show, complete with Photoshopped Facebook photos of the “bride and groom” and their happy relationship together up to this point.
As you may have already guessed, Jamie was chosen as our bride, and because she was on my team, I was to play part of “father of the bride”. I gave a speech telling about Jamie’s birth story, and we shared a daddy daughter dance, during which I told her how proud I was of the woman she had become. It was hilarious, and one of the most fun dances I have ever been to. But little did I know, the words I spoke to Jamie during I dance, while playing the part at the time, I would truly mean them later in the week.
Rehearsal continued, and as I got to know the girls in my group, I discovered that all of them had been training in dance class for quite some time, all of them, except for Jamie. As we were learning choreography, I noticed that Jamie was having some trouble. She had all the ability she needed to do the moves, but she would allow herself to be psyched out if she were to miss even one step. After one rehearsal I took her aside and I said, “Are you intimidated?” Clearly mercy is not one of my gifts, but she looked at me as if she knew exactly what I was talking about.
“No,” she said, I’m just completely insecure about pretty much everything.” Her tone was matter of fact, and completely without emotion, as if this was a state she had been living in for a while.
“Well you shouldn’t be,” I told her, “You can do all of these moves just as well, if not better then everyone else on that stage. You’re good, and it’s beautiful when you do it. Don’t beat yourself up if you get one step wrong.”
I could tell this meant a lot to her, and that she may have been in the verge of tears, so we both did our best to finish our exchange for she was not one who liked to cry in front of people, and I was not one to comfort, another gift that is admittedly not my strongest.
The stage was then set for Thursday night, the last night of camp, most commonly referred to by counselors as faith night, and more commonly referred to by campers as crying night. I was to be giving the salvation message and I was going to tie it in with feet washing and planting ourselves in the living water of Jesus.
Now first of all, God moved in incredible ways that night, I saw and heard the Holy Spirit physically and tangibly in others. I heard people encouraging one another and praying for one another in ways that I knew were beyond our earthly capabilities. While viewing all of this, at one point I looked over and I saw a young girl who seemed to be weeping with exceeding passion. The only reason this sight struck me so hard was because I had looked over at this girl only five minutes before, and she had been totally fine, the only difference now, was the Jamie sat behind her, laying her hands on the girls back, and was praying for her.
It was at this moment that I began to see the orchestrations of our loving God. I saw her mouth moving at a frenzied speed, that, along with the other girl’s emotional reaction only could be explained in my mind by one thing, Jamie had received the gift of intercessory prayer, a gift that I myself have been given from time to time.
I soon turned away and began to pray and talk with other campers who needed a place to let go of their burdens, and about twenty minutes later I turned and Jamie was standing right in front of me. It took only a moment of our eyes locking before the water in her eyes boiled over into a full sob.
“I don’t feel worthy to have anyone wash my feet,” she said, “I try so hard, and I want to love God more, but there is no way that I could live up to the Christian standard.”
My heart broke as I heard this, yet I felt God place a very simple, beautiful answer on my heart for her. “None of us are worthy enough to have our feet washed,” I said, “But Jesus desires to do it anyway, not only because He loves us, but so He can plant us in that love.”
“And as for this ‘Christian standard’, the only standard that any Christian is held to is that we love God and accept His free gift of grace.” The standard is not to be perfect, the standard is to accept your natural imperfection and accept the gift of perfection through the grace of Jesus Christ. These were obviously the Spirit’s words in me and not my own. I have never been very eloquent in my speech.
I relayed this to her, and I could still sense her hesitancy. So I continued, “Here is what we’re gonna do,” I said, “I have not washed any feet tonight. And I would be humbled and honored, if your feet were the only ones I washed.”
From there the two of us walked over to the baths together and I washed her feet with tears streaming down both of our faces. I’m not sure if it was as clear to her as it was to me, but I was realizing in that moment that God had set us up specifically to meet one another. He had been orchestrating our lives in just the right way so that when our two melodies collided, we would create a beautiful worship hymn to his great glory. He’s doing it all the time, we just have to open our eyes to see it, cause when we do, He will open our ears to enjoy the music.
I begin with this title hoping to peak your curiosity. Truth be told, there is not much talk about sperm on a Christian blog, or any blog for that matter. It stems from a sermon I once heard from author Tony Campolo, while talking to teenagers he used an illustration that went something like this…
Did you ever want to see what a sperm looks like all grown up? Then look at yourself in the mirror. Yes, the truth is hard, but at one point in our lives we were all once a sperm. Not only that, but we were one in five million sperm. And there was a race down a long dark tunnel. And there was an egg at the finish line. And you won! It was you against five million and you came through with the victory! You made the Olympics look like nothing!
And as funny as it is, it is also science, and it is also God’s plan. We hear all of these amazing stories about people when they were born, how because of one rare disease or another they had a two percent chance to live and they came through. We look at these people and say, well, they really must be here for a reason. But what about the fact that all of us, each and every one of us, had a one in five million chance of being born and we came through? What about that? What about the fact that each and every one of us is a divine miracle?
Some people may try and say that things were just random, and maybe that is true, but it is not
what I believe. You know what I believe? You are not a mistake, you are not here by accident. Think about it, if your mother had a headache that night, you might not even be here today. (Think about that one, you’ll get it later)
Don’t try and tell me that your life is a mistake because the chances were so low, the deck was completely stacked against you and still, somehow, you can through. And not only somehow, but for some reason, and I believe it was for a reason, a very specific reason. And the Lord confirms this truth in Jeremiah chapter one when he tells the prophet, “before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and set you apart and appointed you”.
For Jeremiah, that appointment was to be a prophet among the nations. But for you, and for me, and for all of us, there is no telling what that appointment is. But what we do know is that for you, and for me, and for all of us, there is an appoint. There is a divine appoint that God has placed upon your life, no matter who you are, and your responsibility, and the reason you are here is to discover that divine appointment, and to devote your life to following and fulfilling it.
When you can commit yourself to doing that, I believe you will see God begin to work powerfully in your life. Because the other great thing about your divine calling is that God does not just pick us out from the sperm pool, choose the calling, and then leave us on our own. The Lord desires for you to find your calling so that He can partner with you in creating a better world. He desires for His Holy Spirit to dwell within us and to work through us in order to do His redemptive work in this world. He is active, He is moving, and He is in love with his children, desiring what’s best for them.
I wrote something a few summers ago for camp. That summer, I felt that the Lord was calling me to storm the hearts of these students and take back their identities for the Lord. In process of praying about how to go about that, the Lord breathed two spoken word pieces into my heart, one for the boys, and one for the girls. They have since become infamous, at least among the hundred or so people who own them, as a source of encouragement for those who are struggling with their purpose or their self worth, and I would like to share them with you now.
I share these words with you, knowing that they are meant to be spoken, but I pray that as you read them and pray over them that the Holy Spirit would speak them into your heart and that you would know without a shadow of a doubt that this is exactly who the Lord has made you to be, no matter who you think you are. Even when you were a tiny sperm, the Lord looked in a school of five million and He point you out and said, “I want this one. I choose you.”
(click on the link below to see the poems)GUYSGIRLS
I have seen God’s fingerprints very powerfully in my life lately through an opening of my eyes and hyper awareness to answered prayer. He has shown Himself not only to be real, but to be loving and active. I think a lot of us believe that God is loving, that is a common Christian conviction. But I think a significantly less number of us believe that God is active, that He is working and orchestrating in every moment. After all, Psalm 107 reminds us well that “His loves endures forever”. The verb endures is in a present form, meaning that it still is moving and enduring and active. Upon noticing this new sensitivity to God’s presence and movement in the world, I began to ask myself how and why I have become so much more aware then I ever have before, that question is what I will attempt to answer here.
I would like to believe that a lot of Christians believe in God’s love and they want so desperately to begin to see his love and strength and power working actively in their lives, and yet, we are most often left in the stands, watching and hearing about God moving in the world as if it were a spectator sport. But to be a part of God moving in the world, to be a part of His activity, the bringing forth of His Kingdom, we cannot be spectators, we must be players in the most serious of ways. We must step out in faith and begin to follow the dream or the calling that God has placed on our heart. When we begin to do that, we are drawing ourselves closer to His heart, and closer into an awareness of His presence.
Now, this is something we have heard before, that “God has a plan for your life”. And it is true, we find it to be true in the book of Jeremiah that “before you were in the womb, God knew you, and set you apart”. We believe that God has amazing things to do through us, and we even offer ourselves up for Him to do them, but we are missing a step I think, and it’s a tricky one, but an important one.
In order to truly see God’s fingerprints in your life, and begin to see day by day what his plan is for your life, you need to put God to the test, and renew your mind. If we want to see God do amazing things, we need to begin to ask Him to do them, and we need to ask for them specifically. When we ask God for something, when we come before Him everyday with our pleas, He will hear us and He will answer them. But we must dare to ask specifically, or we may miss the answer.
For example, if I were the pastor of a church, I could ask God to bless my ministry. That is a great prayer, and over the years I may be able to say that God as generally answered that prayer. I could pray that prayer, or I could pray that God would bring 500 news members to my church over the next six months. This is putting God to the test, it is not say, well Lord, if you really are powerful, prove it. It is saying, God, I believe that you have the power to make this happen, and I want to see you move, cause when you do I will use this testimony to bring you glory. Begin to ask the Lord to place specific prayers on your heart, because it is much easier to see His fingerprints when we pray specifically.
The next step after the prayer, is to begin to renew our minds, so that He may reveal to us the answers He has for us. Romans 12 tells us that we must commit ourselves to the renewing of our minds so that we may discern His good and perfect will. As you renew your mind, you will not only find your eyes more open to God’s answers to prayer, but you will find more confidence and prompting for the specifics of your prayers.
God is moving, but it is hard to see his from a static position, we need to begin to move with Him by praying specifically and renewing our minds, and then perhaps we will see 2 Chronicles 16:9 come true as the Lord shows himself strong and active our behalf.
The 24 Hour Musical is the ultimate musical theatre challenge in which a musical is announced, rehearsed, teched, and performed all within a 24 hour period. This past Saturday marked the performance of the second annual 24 Hour Musical for me and a group of other young Christians, but the planning for both the show and the event had been in the works for months.
This year, I had felt God putting the finances of the event on my heart. He gave me a number way back in February or March, that number was 5,000. $5,000 to give away to Living Water International in order to build a fresh water well in an area that does not have access to clean water. I asked the producer of the event what his donations goal was, without telling him the number God had given me. He told me that he hadn’t thought much about it, but he threw out a number anyway, guess what the number was, 5,000. Maybe it was foolish, but I took that as a confirmation.
I began to pray for that $5,000 every single day. I asked God that He would provide the money so that we could help to provide physical justice to people who were living abroad in squalor, and so that we might bring Him glory through our testimony of His provision.
As the project date crept closer however, the cost of the actual event was continuing to raise, and not very much fund raising money was coming in. Many others were beginning to doubt the possibility of actually raising $5,000 if we were already struggling to cover our costs. I continued to pray however, wrestling with thoughts of foolishness, standing on the promise God had given me.
By the time the week of the event arrived, I don’t think there was a single person who truly believed that in this economy we could raise $5,000 in donations at an event that attracts only 600 people, most of which are middle class families with many small children. It seemed as though everyone was a doubter, and even I had my moments, but that prayer kept popping up in my mind, so I would continue to circling, praying that God would come through.
During the event, time was obviously of the essence, but I tried to grab every extra spare opportunity I could to pray for the upcoming harvest. I did a few prayer walks around the building, and as the seats were filling up in the auditorium I was almost more excited to see what God was going to do out in the lobby more then I was excited to see what the performers were going to do on stage.
The first act was coming to close, the actors were doing wonderfully, when one of our event volunteers came over and whispered to me that we were already at $2,700. That made my Spirit do a bit of jump, but then I realized that donations probably weren’t going to double during intermission and after the show. People usual come to something like this and make their donation right away. Then God reminded me, just keep praying, and so I did. I sat in the back of the auditorium during the end of act one and I prayed for God to fill up that donation basket.
Two hour later I had the heart stopping pleasure of standing near the tech booth and listening to our show director announce that we had indeed reached $5,000, right on the button, exactly. I was overcome to the point of tears at how God had provided regardless of the circumstance.
Now I do not believe that because I prayed God gave the money, I don’t have that kind of power, no way. But I do believe that God delivers to those who are persistent in His will. I believed that He had promised $5,000, and so I persisted in that, not with as much strength as a I should have, against the odds, with the promise that if He did, that I would use the testimony of His provision to bring Him glory, that I would tell the story about when he came through in the clutch, down to the last dollar.
So brothers and sisters, I write to let you know that there is a God out there who is not only still capable of miracles, but is still performing them every day, and when we begin to listen to prayer persistently for those miracles, we can become a part of them ourselves, and then our story, your story, will be a story that bring glory to God for all time. Amen.
"So to begin my little "story" I grew up in a strong catholic household. I went to Sunday school every week and had religious education classes up until my confirmation every year. I never thought about my faith in Christ , I was just raised with it. I did what was needed for each religious milestone and thought I was the perfect catholic. Then I started going to church with friends who were Christian, which I thought was the same thing and catholic but is actually really different sometimes. I liked how it wasn’t so traditional but I was still getting the whole Godly affect. Then as I started getting older I started actually thinking about if I actually believed in God. My group of friends were so against religion and they were pulling me in one direction while my head was telling me that I knew God had to be there. In seventh grade my grandma passed and I really took it hard. I was so obsessed with being perfect to make it easier on my parents. I was constantly stressed about school and social life and then my weight. I was counting calories, skipping meals, and I lost a lot of weight. I still didn't think I was thin enough to be considered perfect and I would throw up anything I ate. In eighth grade I was sent to a psychiatrics ward for thoughts of suicide and bulimia. I was so upset with God. I was wondering "If he's there for me why would he do this?" I started believing my friends that he wasn't there. It was cool to swear, it was cool to drink, it was cool to go through guys like they were unlimited, it was cool to say you weren't a virgin, it was cool to be accepted for rebelling against God. And it was great for the longest time. I went to CYT camp every summer since 3rd grade, but I stopped listening to the religious part. Once I got to overnight camp, it was impossible to ignore. Each year I started realizing I have to clean up my act. Every year it would fail, but I kept getting closer. This past summer (my 3rd year) during the faith talk, I just sat and prayed and prayed. I said "please God I am so, so sorry I left you, and I want to come back home". And I could swear to you, I felt someone put their hands on mine and say "It's okay. You're forgiven and you can come home". It sounds like the cheesiest thing but I claim it as my God moment. From someone who went 4 years believing there was no God and being so against the mainstream Christian, I am once again a strong believer. I have rededicated my life to Christ and I can already feel a difference. Down the road, it won't matter how many friends you had, who you were dating or having sex with, or how "perfect" you were. Your life has no purpose if you're not living for God. I might not be the right person to be saying that but it's what I believe and I am so excited to reunite with God and start living the way he intended me to."
The week before camp I had another camp where I was the counselor for foster kids and giving them a week to have the life of a normal kid. It was super God filled and touching and it was so hard leaving, very emotional and heartbreaking to the max. Anyways, during my first camp (the foster kid one) I kept asking God to let me feel the EXACT pain He feels towards His hurting children, and I had felt it all week. So coming back was super challenging and I did NOT want to go to High school Camp at all.
So I get to camp Monday and I was just very to myself and not wanting to do anything. And throughout that whole day I would start tearing up and getting emotional because I was still feeling the pain God feels towards His children. It was hard for me to enjoy my camp time when I was feeling the pain of so many around me. But throughout camp I started realizing that its a gift that I can feel Gods pain because its such an incredible way to reach out to people and love on them in the ways they need it.
Ok, I have another one. So these past few months I had been struggling with feeling Gods love and mercy. I knew with ALL my heart that I wanted to pursue Him and desire Him, but it seemed that every time I prayed or worshipped Him I couldn't get anything out of it, so when camp came around I was at the point of wanting to just give up. I knew I couldn't meet all the standards of being a Christian, I felt that I was below all that and too unworthy. So faith night came around and we campers had the opportunity to get our feet washed and right when I heard that I had this shaky, uneasy feeling inside of me that stiffened my whole body. All night I was walking around all stiff and shaky. I had never experienced it before. All my emotions just went on pause and I couldn't cry or feel hurt or happiness or anything. Quite frankly it scared me. And every time I walked past the area where they were washing feet I got bad anxiety. I was pacing around trying to get up the nerve or even get the desire to talk to someone about it, I finally got the opportunity to talk to one of the counselors and by the point I started bawling and had no idea what to do with myself. I come up to him completely drained and scatter brained. And it came to conclusion that I had felt so unworthy and below the Christian lifestyle that I felt it would be wrong for me to get my feet washed. He explained to me my gifts and how God wants to use me with them first of all. And second, how NO ONE there deserved to get their feet washed, and we were all so unworthy of it but that’s the beauty in God; he WANTS to do that because he loves us way too much to not want to serve us. And thirdly, how he feels that the biggest and only standard that is important for us as Christians to meet is the desire to want God which I had, and that changed the way I looked at things. So, he brought me back and he personally washed my feet and prayed over me. The whole rest of the week and still up to this point I feel completely at peace with life and who God is. As he was praying for me that night I just sat there in peace and comfort. God is so good and the way he used the counselors this week was incredible."
"Well, I don't really know how to start. On Monday, I met this one girl that looked like she needed a friend, I wouldn't say that's God working in MY life necessarily, but in hers. My mom always says I'm good at making strangers my friends, I think God gave me that quality so I can impact other people's lives. On Tuesday, I can’t really say anything big happened, He didn't really do or say anything to me that day. Wednesday, lol this is gonna sound cheesy but he gave me the courage to pick up a dead fish! Thursday; this is the big one, faith night, my favorite night of camp every year. That's what I ALWAYS look forward to. Right when we started worshiping, I broke down. I didn't know why at first, but when we started singing "we are", I could feel Gods hands on my shoulders. He was trying to tell me something, I didn't know what but I could feel it. So I first went to two different counselors. To just cry with one, and for the other to pray over me, and God impacted me through that night. They changed my life. I think that's what God was aiming for, because my dad and I don't have the best relationship, so he gave me a man to look up to at camp, and I have kept in touch with the other counselor since the first day I met her two years ago. I tell her everything, like a sister. God gave me both of them for some crazy reason that only He knows about, but I thank Him for it. And lastly, Friday, I didn't mess up one word or dance move when I was in the very front! God impacted my life in many ways over camp, there's my story!"
"Going into High School camp 2012 I was lead by my previous understanding of last summer, although, as soon as I stepped through the doors of Linder I could feel something was different. I was more excited than ever to be there. The Lord works in so many incredible ways. My camp experience was truly a blessed one and one that I cannot get over. I felt ashamed during devotions and praise time because I knew that in the past year I lost my way so many times. I tried to stay on track with the Lord yet it failed more often than not. I was insecure, lost and headed to being someone I'm not. It seemed though, that it didn’t even matter. I was showered on with new understandings. God was working through me this week to let me know that he still had my back. He taught me about faith, love, community and the power of prayer, shining a light through the most amazing team of counselors I could have ever asked for! The empowerment and friendships that taught me and brought me so much needed confidence and love were so blatantly present, I couldn’t have asked for more. Each memory from camp will never be forgotten and I strongly believe He placed upon me friendships that will last forever. I know going out into the world each and every day will be a struggle, I will sin and I will not always remember to look to God; but from one short week I now will keep the notions in my head that we NEVER walk alone, that no matter how many times I lose my way, God will ALWAYS be there when I return. And also that I need to pray, follow his path, trust him and praise him for he is the one who will get me through each and every day.
If you've never been to High School camp, change that. It is the most blessed and rewarding experience. All I can honestly say is, Thank You God."
"My first instinct of camp this year was "This camp is only for a show; singing, acting, dancing with nothing else." Within the first two days my assumption was correct, however I didn't want it to be. I had been praying and praying for the past year, and two days to somehow get closer to God, but I never felt like I was connecting with him. It felt like a phone call gone straight to voice mail every time. Wednesday night: purity talk. Since this was my second year at Spotlight camp I knew that this night was extremely emotional for not only the campers, but even the counselors. The night kicked off with one of the counselors speaking. Before he began, I told myself that I wasn't going to cry because, I wasn't with God in my heart. Within 30 seconds of the counselor speaking, I could taste the salt from my tears and I could feel the water on my face. I now understood why my calls always got rejected: I showed up as a whole different person. Think of it like this, when somebody calls you and the number shows up as 'Unknown' or 'Unidentified Contact'. God knew that I wasn't being myself and who I really was because I wanted to "impress" and "be cool" to the people I knew outside of camp. Yet, God didn't ditch me. God had always been there to pick me up when I fell. Whether I could hear him or not he would say to me "Here, let me help you" or "Do you want to stay here a while? That's ok, I will still help you up." My emotions got the best of me, now knowing how foolish I was. But the main message wasn't that you can make bad decisions all the time and that it is totally ok, the message was "You always have a ticket home." In my point of view, God is my home. I now have a ticket that I keep in my wallet that is with me at all times that says Destination: Home, Fee: $0.00. It is a reminder to me that even when you have burried yourself in the biggest hole possible, God is there to get you home for absolutely no fee. After the purity talk, Thursday night came by and we had a guest speaker. The year before I had remembered having a guest but I never got connected to the message. This nights theme was Commiting to God. I hadn't done this before and this was my chance. I knew within this short amount of time I was changing my entire life, literally. I chose the path to God. Within seconds all of the devotions clicked together, every speech made by the counselors had made absolute sense. Every single one, had connected to me all along. Another thing that I learned that night was love. The entire night consisted of me hugging people I had never spoken to, I didn't even know their names. People had even been praying for me! Not knowing a clue who I was. Counselors poured their hearts out to everyone. In that moment we were all being loved by God, and each other. But there is one thing that I will never forget. The guest speaker had been speaking about how he had no idea what his talents were, until one day he was sitting in the same camp that we were when he was young, and God had spoken through one of the counselors to him. The counselor had looked him straight in the eyes and told him his abilities and he never forgot it. The next day, I had just finished cleaning up the chapel for the showcase on the last day. One of the counselors called my name to walk with them. I had thought the least of it thinking they were asking me to hold a door open or something of the sort. They put the bucket down that they were holding, looked me in the eyes and said "What do you want to do?" I thought to myself "What does he mean? Do right now? Do in school? What?" I just looked back with a confused expression. He responded with another question saying "Do you want to pursue something in dance or musical theater?" I said "I love both, but I really want to do something with dance." Rather than just an "Ok" for a reply he said "Good. Because when you dance you have honesty to your moves. Instead of just performing and thinking 'Look I'm dancing, and look how good I am', you show the true emotions through the movements for everyone." I knew everyone included God. Never again will I forget those words. I have been told that I am a talented dancer by people who think none the less of it, but I could tell that when he just told me that, the meaning was 100% true. While performing I thought of those words and performed for God. I sang for God. I smiled for God. Spotlight taught me many lessons. Lessons that I will remember for the rest of my life. Lessons that I will remember through high school, adult hood, college, and my final days. My first assumption had proved me wrong. I walked into camp thinking one thing, and walked out of the chapel on the last day with a completely different mind set. The main point I got across at Spotlight can be put into 7 simple words: I love God, and God loves me."
“This year was my 3rd year going to camp, and by far the best and most life changing year. I made so many new friendships that will last a lifetime and strengthened my friendship with God. In the past years, camp has been a huge mountain top for me. I come so close to God for a quick five days and when camp is over I would climb down the mountain and go back to my normal everyday life. Going to church, praying, but not really having a close relationship with God. This year however, I feel is going to be very different. I now have a strong desire to do more to come closer to God. I want to make an effort to make Him a bigger part of my life. I came to this realization on the last day of camp. The power was out and everyone was singing, praying, or writing a letter to their future self. Looking around everything was so peaceful and I could feel God’s presence in the room. I knew God wanted to have a closer relationship with me and I made a promise to Him and to myself that day, to work harder to make that relationship strong. I want to thank all the counselors for inspiring me and helping along on my journey. I also want to thank all my fellow campers for being there every step of the way. I never have, and never will ever walk alone.”
"Thanks so much for all you did for us at camp. Hearing the counselors speak about God was what I needed to help me remember about having faith. I have had a lot of change in my life this last year and have gotten discouraged and sad about it. I know the counselors aren't God or were not trying to act like him, but they were speaking about God, and it helped to get me back on the right thoughts, it helped me remember why I do things and what I want to be like. I felt like the devotions were a way for God to be reaching out to me. I loved being surrounded by people who talk about church, Jesus, and growing spiritually. I love how the counselors are older and share their experiences with the campers. I felt like I could open up to the counselors and I can call them all friends. Middle school can be tough but when we have good people in our lives (like the staff and peers from camp), it makes the hard times easier. I know that God has a plan for me. I am moving to a new state, away from all those I have ever known, my role models, friends, family- I have faith that it will all be okay. God, will be with me holding my hand. I know I need God in all the times of my life. I also needed camp to help me remember what is the most important thing in my life and I have that no matter where I am or who I am with!"
"A year. Many may think its a long time, many may think its short. A year could be prosperous, a year could be deadly. Then I entered into high school. This year. One of the toughest of years of my life. I leave an environment that I've been in community with for 8 years that uplifts Christ, loving and cherishing Him. For me, this year was like a drought. I felt that God wasn't there. Wasn't there to satisfy my lonely heart. You can guess what I did. I filled my heart with worldly possessions. I turned to worldly possessions. But I wanted more and more. I completely spit him in the face everyday, lie to Him every waking hour, kill His heart every second of a minute.
A week. Many may think its a long time, many may think its short. A year could be prosperous, a year could be deadly. Then I came to camp. This week. I found a love that stitched my broken heart. A wonderful love, an indescribable love, a love not centered around me, but centered around others. The love of Christ. Now my drought was becoming a fruitful garden, a sign of life. A sign to warn the devil "Oh nu-uh Satan, I am a son of God and I am loved and nothing on this planet is measurable to the caring, loving, kind love of MY father." And there is one other thing I learned from camp. We need to build community. Because without support of our brothers and sisters in Christ, we are hopeless."