Time and time again, I’m reminded of just how much I forget.
Often the Lord has to get my attention, in a solid-spruce-two-by-four-across-the-back-of-the-head kind of way, just to “rock” my memory. I just get so busy with family, ministry, work, various time-stealing activities and the general “have-to’s” of life that God has to remind me of the last great thing He did, and even where He did it.
I have found this to be true specifically regarding camps. I have had the pleasure of speaking at, planning for, participating in or directing over 350 camps in the past 18 years, including many Foursquare camps. In 2011 alone, I will have ministered at 17 camps by Christmastime. Those times could all become a blur, a medley of sounds and distant memories that have a faint familiarity accompanied by a vague recollection that something important had happened, somewhere along the line. Thankfully, that is not the case.
About three years ago, at Foursquare’s Camp Cedar Crest, I had an epiphany, an “ah-ha” moment, when a young lady who was a representative of Life Pacific College (LPC) was sharing her testimony. She told her story from the front of the sanctuary while positioning herself in the exact location where she had been standing 10 years earlier, when she felt God call her to go to LPC and to minister to children or youth after graduation.
I realized that day how important camp is and how many people, covering multiple generations, have that same kind of “spot” at camp—the place where they crossed over from being pre-Christian to becoming a Christ follower; from being self-led to being Spirit-led; and from experiencing captivity to discovering a freedom that only occurs when God does something so significant that it changes the landscape of one’s life.
Memorials of God’s Handiwork
Her story made me think about the Israelites. They experienced unearned freedom, victorious battles, rushing water from a rock, provision in the form of manna, water wells turned sweet, and leaders rising up from within the ranks.
Each of these triumphs had a festival, feast, celebratory day or monument to commemorate what God did at a specific time and at an identifiable spot, so His people would remember He met them in the midst of their greatest times of need: “Don’t forget that I was there, I AM here, and I will be there forever. Remember. Please remember!”
When they were escaping from their captivity and had to cross the Jordan, God made a way where there was no human way. Then, in the very place where He had delivered them, He had them take rocks from the dry bed of the Jordan and build a memorial. (See Josh. 4:4-8.) So, whenever they would see a memorial, it would “rock” their memory (pun intended).
Have we forgotten that camp is a place, a memorial, a spot for people to return to and remember what God has done in their lives, in their family’s lives, and in the future generations that will follow them, all because God provided for them on that spot? The added benefit is that, on returning to camp, people have the opportunity to revisit what He did and then experience what He will do, if they just remember that He still does! (See Heb. 13:8; Phil. 1:3-6.)
Time after time, God meets people in the midst of their greatest need. We, as The Foursquare Church, get the incredible privilege of partnering with God at these pivotal points of what is a very personal process. Through Foursquare maintaining amazing camping facilities, organizing retreats, and facilitating camps and getaways, we make room for thousands more to encounter God and discover their own memorial spots of transformation, freedom or purpose.
I had the opportunity to oversee a combo camp this summer. As I was building the team, I was specifically looking for young leaders to fill lead staff positions. I had the incredible opportunity to place three gifted young female leaders in three key roles: Jennifer Thigpenn (camp director); Kimberly Wheeler (worship leader); and Abbie Balman (head group leader). All three were pastor’s kids and had been to camp many times through the years, but this was their first time running the entire program.
As the camp began, all three had an “ah-ha” moment as they remembered that they had been together, 10 years earlier, as extremely shy girls sharing a room at a Pastor’s Kids Getaway. Melinda Scott was their room leader, and they talked about how she had encouraged them throughout the weekend to become leaders and learn to be strong women of God. They have a shared memory of Knott’s Berry Farm, the laughter, the encouraging words, Melinda Scott challenging them and now, the memory—the fruit of those earlier words—of their time together leading a successful camp.
Where is your spot, the place that God called you into ministry, or where He healed you, or where He touched your life? I have purposed in my heart to visit my old spots at camp and ask for God to do a new thing, in a new spot.
I have to say that, after 350 camps, it is not as easy to remember, but I’ll never again forget that there is still an incredible need to create an environment for people to come to “the mountain” and spend time, face to face, with their creator—to rediscover their spot, stand on their spot, and remember.
By: John Cox, NextGen coordinator for Foursquare’s Pacific Coast and Valleys District