“The kingdom of God will not advance unless its citizens make sacrificial decisions for the sake of others.”
Our friend Jesse Penna reminded the Summer Ministry Team about this kingdom principle in a counselor meeting at Camp Quaker Haven. We have found ourselves living inside this quote from the moment that we began camp-ing at our first camp in Rosebud Texas. Here at Camp Winiwaca our team was asked to lead recreation time for high school students. The balmy Texas sun showed us no favor as we sought to bring energy, excitement, and awesome experiences for students through games like ultimate frisbee and watermelon wrestling (yes, it’s awesome). I was delighted to witness each of our team members step up to the plate, own our games, and serve well in our respective roles during recreation.
In these first few days of the summer our identity as a group was still forming, and quickly at that. It’s astounding how rapidly formation occurs in the opening stages of ministry teams such as this one. As the team debriefed and processed life in the evenings we were quick to share with the group what was on our hearts and minds entering the impending season of ministry known as camp. Amidst a myriad of other emotions, excitement emerged as each of us began to realize the opportunity that awaited us in the next two months. Although the bookends of our team’s service had already been established the reality of “camp time” would soon take over. This idea is built upon the fact that our schedule and hours, or “time,” means something entirely different at camp than it does in our everyday living. For in camp time you live by the bell; you live by the next thing on the schedule and that’s all that really matters at the moment. The days are long while nights are short, and each week is a unique roller coaster of emotions.
All of this being said, our experience at Rosebud had a lot to offer our crew as we jumped into the beginning of a summer full of camps. It taught us to be honest with our teammates, to think quick on our feet, and that many exciting days were ahead of us!
Following our time in Texas, we began a pair of camps at Camp Quaker Haven in Arkansas City, Kansas. In this opportunity, the Summer Ministry Team got to invest in student’s lives in a different way than previously - by counseling. Suddenly we remembered that counseling is hard work! It requires a lot of intentional effort and responsibility. Yet, we have come to establish a high regard for the ministry of counseling students. We consider it a great honor, a tremendous privilege, and an absolute blast to journey with our campers each day as spiritual guides hiking into the Kingdom of God alongside them. In these excursions we regularly have God sightings, places we quite clearly see Him move and have His way in students lives. These findings revealed themselves in different scenarios as students asked very different questions at the end of the week than they did at the beginning, or when they exclaim that their shell had been broken in worship that night, and especially as they tell us about the things they are surrendering to God at camp. Of course we love working on our Chaco tans and hanging out at the pool in the afternoon, but nothing is more rewarding in our work than coming to the end of the week and getting to hear a student tell us how the Holy Spirit moved within them over the last few days. It’s utterly humbling that God would use us in small ways to partner with Him in what He’s doing in these students. Nothing is more satisfying to us than seeing students come alive in their God given identities as children of the King who spoke the universe into existence.
The Summer Ministry Team exists to represent Friends University as they partner with camps and churches by demonstrating the love of Christ through intentional service, investing in students, and growing in community. I am a proud member of the Friends University Summer Ministry Team of 2018. I am thankful for the chance to serve with each member on this team and for their faithful obedience to God in serving the church of today (high school and middle school students). I am excited for the adventure of journeying with others in the pursuit of making much of Jesus this summer. I’m inspired and thrilled to get to join 6 others from Friends University who want to make sacrificial decisions as citizens of the Kingdom of God in order that others might journey far and wide into the good life that Father first initiated and demonstrated to us.