My favorite stories are those in which it is evident that God is working out "the solution" to a problem before we even know our "need". Recently one of those events played out in my own life.
A couple weeks ago I began hearing in earnest about the upcoming Mennonite Convention that was to be held in Ohio. I heard particularly about our youth and their involvement with the convention trip. Hearing their excitement reminded me of the youth convention I attended at their age, but also it reminded me of Highland Retreat.
Highland Retreat is a christian youth camp I attended grewing up, and then in my late teens I worked there as a counselor. I remembered how it was at camp the years they had conventions, and many of the teen counselors would ask off for convention week. This always left the camp short of staff, and often they would need replacement staff for just the one week.
In the last several weeks, during my quiet time with God, I kept coming back to the idea of asking the camp director if they needed more help for the week. It seemed like a ridiculous idea. For starters, I'm at Sandal House, how was I going to get away for a week and leave my teen girls. I had also heard that camp attendance was down this year, it was very likely they didn't even need me there.
I kept telling myself how impossible the idea really was, and that I shouldn't worry about it.
The last weekend in June was the Highland Retreat Annual Steak BBQ Dinner that is a fundraiser for the camp. My dear friend Stephanie asked me earlier in the week if I was going to attend and could we go together. Once we arrived at the camp we went to find Ben and his wife Rebecca who both work there as summer staff and are old friends of ours. They immediately told us how attendance had increased for the next week very suddenly and that several girls had been put on a wait list because there wasn't enough female staff to have them come to camp.
I knew then I shouldn't hesitate. I immediately told Rebecca that I felt God was leading me to come that week and fill in, and I would find someone to cover for me at Sandal House, but I could come if they needed me. No sooner did those words come out of my mouth, then Stephanie said she would be happy to fill in for me at Sandal House for the time I would be away. The pieces fell into place so easily, within moments.
I spoke with the director of the camp that afternoon and we arranged for my time with them. The director was able to call the families with the wait listed campers and tell them they could come to camp the next week.
It was a wonderful week at camp!! I was placed in a cabin with six little 8-10 year old girls, and a co-counselor who was also an old friend of mine (she had come back to volunteer too).
During our time with these little girls they would often ask us to share stories with them. We would tell them of our old camp experiences (even some of the old pranks we pulled). The best stories were those of how God had worked in our lives, especially the times we experienced with Him at camp.
On Thursday morning we took our cabin on a hike. The hike turned out to be probably one of the best I was ever on as a counselor. Funny story, my co-counselor and I had been together once before as co-counselors, and at that time we had attempted a hike with a cabin, but were never able to find the trail head. We laughed at ourselves on this hike, because as simple as the hike was, we weren't able to find the trail head. We quickly came up with a plan B and hiked a different route.
This new route lead us directly up a ridge to the Wilderness Shelters found on the camp property. When I had been much younger I attended wilderness camp for many years and these shelters were like a second home to me. I took our campers on a tour of the wilderness camp grounds and showed them to my old shelter and my old bunk.
At the shelter a very special moment happened. We took the time to sit down together and share some Bible Stories, and from those stories I transitioned into sharing with the girls my own faith story that had happened right there in that very shelter. It was in that very shelter one evening when I was 12 years old that I asked my counselor to pray with me as I asked for forgiveness for my sins and invited Christ into my heart.
As I shared my story I looked around at those precious faces and prayed silently that one day they too would each have a similiar story to share. That they would know the joy of sharing with others the work that Christ has done in their lives. Who knows, maybe one day they'll be out in the middle of the woods with a group of little girls sitting around them listening as they share about the Love of Christ.