We held a BBQ for our year round camp Staff on Sunday evening at Kahdalea. The evening followed a wonderful day of adventures in wild places with good friends and time for worship in our various Church services. It was a day full of peace, friendship, time spent outside, family and reorientation towards what really matters for each of us. The BBQ was the icing on the cake.
In moments of such happiness, when our goals usually tend toward life’s luxuries like planning the next adventure, maintaining already thriving friend groups, sharing the joys of the wilderness, etc., something as wretched as war seems a total foreigner in our lives, unable to make itself understood in our context. The images on the TV and internet searches about the invasion of the Ukraine and the rough, brutal death that war brings is hard to grasp as reality. It brings discord to heart, some sort of dissonance that knocks on the door of our consciences. How then, can we live so peacefully while our brothers and sisters are suffering so much?
As we gathered around our evening meal of burgers, Anne’s BBQ shrimp shared by the beloved Gautier family in Mississippi, and some potluck items, we reflected on our mission at camp and we shared prayer together.
Camp is all about learning how to love. The greatest hope we have is to communicate the Kingdom of Jesus and his mission of peace, patience, kindness, and authentic freedom to blossoming young hearts, campers and staff alike. Where else are children going to learn that violence of any sort is unhelpful in their search for true happiness? If they’re fortunate, perhaps they have a community that surrounds them with this sound pursuit of truth and a clear message about the worth and the dignity of each and every person. Strong families can instruct the heart of a child well, but every family needs help as it is a community, a collection of experiences that forms the minds and hearts of young souls. Camp’s mission is to be a space of encounter with love and the sound growth of love.
The conflict in the Ukraine reminds us that, while we are on earth, there is no lasting or perfect peace. “The poor will always be with you”, Jesus says. He teaches us that we can not eradicate suffering from the earth, but we’re called to speak love into it. Would love be love after all without the possibility of pain, of the opposite of love? How would we know our call to love if we never felt our own need for it? Moments of war show us our need for God, for freedom from the poisonous presence of darkness in the world. God calls his children to the battle lines of the human heart, to teach the world about his love through loving! This is tough, because love always involves sacrifice. But what else satisfies our hearts but love?
In our camp prayer, we pray everyday that God would help us to “help others at some cost to ourselves”. The heaviness in our hearts towards the suffering in the world is an invitation to love. Perhaps not always in tangible, visible ways, but also in the “heavy lifting” of prayer! We are taught that “if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it” ( 1 Corinthians 12:26), and again that “Every member has been given divine gifts to contribute to the growth of all; and as these gifts operate effectively throughout the whole body, we are built up and made perfect in love” (Ephesians 4:16). Because of the mysterious way in which we’re all connected in the Body of Christ, our efforts to do good anywhere effect people everywhere. God wants to heal the suffering in the world through your love! YOU are a part of God’s providential answer to the suffering in the world! Let us begin in our homes and in our communities.
We can’t always thwart death and pain, but we can tend wounds, speak words of encouragement, offer support and counsel to agonized minds, accompany a learning and distressed heart, touch a life with a faith-filled prayer, and reflect the shining dignity back to those who have forgotten their own worth. Have we not all been on the receiving ends of these gifts? Did they not make us grateful and full-hearted?
This is our call at camp. Pray, hope, heal, accompany the hearts that come through our gates so as to sow beauty and real friendship with God and others in the world. Perhaps summer camp seems like a modest place to spread the kingdom of Heaven, but we pray for grace to see the scope of the impact every act of love can share. Only God knows how far that goodness goes! Ours is just to sow the seeds. God can give the growth in his own way and in his own time. We’re along for the ride 🙂
As we prepare for another beautiful summer of growth, adventure, and friendship at CKC, let’s join together in recommitting our lives to His lead, and let us pray for all of those currently caught in the tearing acts of war.