Gideon said to Him, “O my lord, if the LORD is with us, why then has all this happened to us? And where are all His miracles?…Judges 6:13 (NKJV)
Fiascoes. Troubles. Hard times. Yes, this is all part of life in a church camp ministry. How do we deal with this each day? I prefer to stay home and pray and have my TEA CUPP with Jesus, while my husband Kent heads out to the battle. But sometimes I also must join him on the frontlines, and sometimes he also must join me in prayer.
Looking back at almost 15 years of camping ministry, it is painful to relive some of the fiascoes. Some were harmless as a group of 100 campers arrived a day early and didn’t bring bedding while we were having a day off, and our housekeeper tried to gather linens from other camps and patch up the situation until we returned (good work, Tim!). Some were scary as our cook drove to town in the camp Suburban for donuts, only to have the engine catch fire and burn up at the side of the road (we’re glad you are safe, Meadow!). Yet some fiascoes brought tears as we sent off members of our ministry team.
Every summer there is one member of our ministry team who can’t stay all summer, due to health, school, family or poor behavior. Those times are the hardest for all the ministry team, because we are one body serving Jesus here at camp. It sure hurts when the foot is cut off! But sometimes that is necessary for the rest of the body to continue functioning.
One summer there was a fellow who was so eager to serve and had big ideas for the camp. We appreciated his enthusiasm. However, on the side he was harassing some of the female members of the ministry team. That unacceptable behavior forced Kent to ask him to leave. The fellow needed a ride to town, but Kent didn’t want to drive him alone, so he asked one of our kitchen assistants to go with him. We have a safe-sanctuary policy of 3-deep at all times, so Kent had to take our young son along, too, so there would be 3 people in the vehicle coming home. So, this poor fellow had quite the escort out of camp that afternoon.
The rest of us were back in the kitchen working, wondering what was going on. As dinner was served and the ministry team sat down to eat in the kitchen, a thunderstorm rolled in. The rain pelted the old dining hall roof, pouring buckets of rain into the dish room.
The camp has another policy about privacy for all team members, so if one person is asked to leave, we don’t share details. We just mention they have left and remind the team to follow all rules in the handbook. As Kent returned and told the ministry team the fellow had left, we were all crying tears of sadness as the roof cried right along with us.
We ended that day with prayers…prayers for our departed team member, prayers for those still at camp, prayers for hurting hearts, prayers for this camping ministry, and prayers for that weeping roof (it still leaks, by the way)! And we thanked God for always being faithful in every fiasco.
You, who have shown me great and severe troubles,
Shall revive me again,
And bring me up again from the depths of the earth. Psalm 71:30 (NKJV)