Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The Empty Cabin

Jesus was quite often surrounded by large crowds, and His ministry touched the lives of thousands. But He quite often did it one person at a time. Think of how he picked out Blind Bart and Zacchaeus from the crowds. Think of how he knew it when the bleeding woman touched the hem of His robe. Remember what He did for Lazurus. Jesus knew that taking time for one on one contact changed lives. It is a lesson many in ministry have a hard time with, because we get so busy and try to do so much (and because our culture puts so much emphasis on numbers). But it is a lesson I learned early on at Quaker Lake.

My first week as a counselor at a junior high camp (same week as the stolen luggage caper for those following this blog) I had a great cabin of guys who were very popular with the ladies. Paul, David, Jay, Joey, Leslie, Spencer and the rest all managed to find a girlfriend as the week went along, and by the all-important Friday night campfire circle they were all holding hands as they headed down the path through the woods. As we sat at the circle, one of the girls, Cynthia, got up to speak. As she shared, she talked about the one person who had made her week special, one person she would never forget. We all assumed it was Joey from my cabin- her boyfriend for the week. But as she finished with great emotion and some tears, she threw her stick in the fire (QLC tradition!) and ran back to hug...ME! I was shocked and a bit thrown off, and I could see Joey was upset. After the candle lighting and the long walk back to the main campus, we had our closing prayer and people began saying their goodbyes. I took Cynthia aside and talked to her about her feelings and about Joey. I tried to find Joey but he had left the area. After saying more farewells I headed back to my cabin just as the bell rang for everyone to do the same. I arrived to find that my cabin was filled with...no one. Not a soul! I walked down to the dock in front of the boys cabins and found Joey, who was crying. I talked to him, prayed with him, and helped him get past Cynthia's emotions and see what a great week it had been. After he headed up to the cabin, I started walking around the lake, and one by one discovered all of my guys- all of whom had been dumped after the campfire circle. I spent time talking to each of them, hearing them out and praying with them. By the time I got everyone back to the cabin, I was exhausted. Laying in my bunk later that night, it hit me that I had just experienced what it should be like to be in ministry. To feel the pain and sorrow, to offer hope and healing to those you are sharing life with is the core of ministry. It is a lesson I would be reminded of many times over the years that followed. This story is the reason that for years every summer one of my programs was called One on One, just a chance to spend time with students individually (and drink lots of milk shakes!).  And it is a lesson that I think captures the true spirit of sharing the living Christ.

Most of the people involved in this story moved on and I didn't see much after that. But you will hear more about Jay, who became a dear friend and co-worker at camp, and one of those mean girls (the prettiest girl at camp that week) who dumped one of my boys, and then went on to marry one of my best friends. But those are different stories for a later date, so keep reading!

Because of Jesus,

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