I recently returned from Sharptop Cove which is a Young Life camp in Jasper, Georgia. My daughter Maggie is currently working there as a nurse over the summer months. Last week, my husband Mac was able to be the camp doctor, so it was a sweet thing to see the two of them serving side by side.
Another sweetness to the week was watching the ministry of Young Life in action from start to finish. The heartbeat of this ministry is to reach high school students– particularly the kids who are living through all kinds of brokeness–broken homes, broken hearts, broken lives. Local Young Life leaders reach out to these kids all year long in the lunch room, at football games, after school, in their world. Then these faithful leaders recruit these students to sign up for summer camp, promising them the best week of their life. Each are desperate for real love, but are searching for it in the world’s “mirky mud puddles”, not knowing or not believing that they can drink from the living water of Jesus Christ. Can He really offer something better?
And so the buses arrive at camp, hundreds and hundreds of teenagers unload, and as the week progresses in Young Life style, the gospel unfolds…hearts are won…and angels rejoice.
The beautiful thing about this ministry is that the ones (YL leaders, staff, and volunteers) that are pursuing these kids were once, not too long ago, sitting in the exact same place as these campers. They too were wallowing in their brokeness; but then, the message of the gospel changed everything on the inside. Jesus redeemed their hearts in the midst of their mess, giving hope to what seemed like a hopeless unfixable life.
And now, drinking from living water, these redeemed people are redeeming people.
A wonderful truth: God can do great things through the faith filled heart, no matter how young or old their walk with the Lord may be.
For example, look at scripture: the woman at the well, after encountering Jesus, immediately ran back to her city and many believed in Him because of her testimony (John 4:14). And then there’s Zacchaeus the tax-collector, after sitting with Jesus, declared instantly that he would make restoration with all those he cheated on financially (from Luke 19). The disciples, likewise, were all a mess, but as soon as they were filled with His Spirit, they became His witnesses in Jerusalem and all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth (Acts 1:8). They didn’t wait years to figure it all out; and God didn’t wait years to use them. The Good News was too good to keep to themselves!
I ask you to join in with the sweet story of redeemed people redeeming people. If you only know one bible verse or truth about God’s character, share it with someone who is hurting today. It’s His Spirit in you that does the marvelous work, not your fancy words or well organized persuasion. When we share our hope, we grow in our faith.
On the last early morning of camp, I was sitting on my porch, enjoying the peaceful setting of the Georgia mountainside. And then, through the mist, along came close to a hundred teenagers walking quietly down the path. They were taking their “new believer’s walk”, with their leaders by their side; yes, they each decided, Jesus could offer something better. I sat in joyful silence and took it all in.
Thank you, Young Life leaders for your faithful pursuing love concerning these kids. You are an inspiration to me. I am praying for you as you are now back home, involved in their broken lives; yet now on the inside, they (and you) are not without Hope. Your Redeemer, Jesus, lives.
Get yourself up on a high mountain, O Zion, bearer of good news, lift up your voice mightily, O Jerusalem, bearer of good news; lift it up, do not fear. Say to the cities of Judah, “Here is your God!” Isaiah 40:9