you win... you always do.

well it's been a while since my last post, and while part of me wants to apologize, there's a majority of my brain that says, 'i'm a youth minister, this is summer.'
so summer is my crazy time and i wouldn't have it any other way. summer for me means late nights with kiddos, early (yeah right) mornings into the office so i can get stuff done before hanging out with kiddos all day, and into the night as previously mentioned. but most of all, summer means church camp. seriously, i look fwd to camp more than christmas.
so this past week i was at teen camp (hence no weekly post) rocking out with a bunch of kiddos and my bros in youth ministry. fun was had, but most importantly God was praised in a way that still has me stoked. lemme see if i can explain.
to start of the week i was told that there were four kids coming from our church that i either hadn't met or had never attended anything here. awkward. some of us had reservations because of the stories that kids had come back with from previous years. yeah, enough with the negativity, everything was awesome. we bonded with the kids that aren't too involved in church and def built relationships that are going to be a huge blessing. and a couple of my guys really opened up and let loose for the first time since i've been here. dantheman typically judges the success of a youth event by how many kids cry, by his standards this was a great time. one of my kiddos was really upset by the soldiers laughing at Jesus during a Passion clip we showed, and that anger manifested itself later on that night when he asked the other kids point blank why they don't go to church, and later on when he revealed that he couldn't remember the last time that he told his parents that he loves them, or gave his little brother a hug instead of making fun of him. another kid really realized how much he holds back in the time we spend together and i think that really got to him. yet another kid really came out of his shell and got some great positive attention from the whole camp. he even won the camp 'hip-hip hippopotomus' contest. way to go rockstar. one of our girls was put in the hotseat one night and given a whole bunch of compliments, which was cool because she had a: earned it and b: never in a million years asked or wanted to be in the hotseat. what else... had another kid that wants to start studying about baptism, we had to resist the urge to go right then, but we decided it would be better to help him know what he was doing before he made the biggest decision of his life. the heart is there but the knowledge isn't. i think every kid that went from our group got what they needed. some kids needed to make new friends, some had to break out of their shells, some just needed to get into worship, and all of us needed to just focus our attention on God completely for a week. the most impressive and important part of the camp was our worship time. it's cool to see conservative and liberal churches get together and throw out all of the devisive stuff and just worship. dantheman and the wookie led our worship time which consisted of everything from art stations, clay stations, phones to talk to God, pennies to represent people we needed to forgive, rocks with our struggles on it to throw away, a tree where we attached what kept us from answering God's call that ended up being burned (think moses and the burning bush), an encouragement station for us to write two letters to a couple of kids that were kicked out the first day for bringing drugs to camp, feet washing stations... it was all awesome. so creative. it's the first time that i've ever been able to include my art in a worship time. talk a about a huge blessing for me. the kids got into it as well, one kid went to town drawing all kinds of stuff throughout the day to decorate the barn where we worshiped. and the singing... i can't even begin to describe. throw in a couple of really moving short videos and worship was a huge impact on our lives.
so the devil def played his hand to early with the drugs on the first night. the response by the kids was overwhelming and quite moving. we told all of the campers what happened so that there wouldn't b any rumors floating around, and they responded by embracing the message of the day, which happened to be forgiveness. i was moved when a 15 year old kid said, 'i'm not going to say anything bad about them because i didn't come up with here with the right intentions either. just because what i was doing isn't illegal doesn't mean i'm just as wrong.' wow. the youth ministers were speechless. the devil tried to get at the camp early but he made several mistakes. 1. he messed with a camp that was completely committed to God. 2. by keeping the counselors up the first night he forced us to rely on God for strength to get through the week. 3. he underestimated the amount of love that the camp has for each other and the love we have for God. there's some lessons to be learned there on our part, mainly being committed to, and totally dependent on God for strength is sooooooo necessary.

last but not least for me was being able to be around my friends and fellow youth ministers. what a blessing we have. we work so well together and encourage each other so much. i was looking around at our crew one day and realized that we were probably going to be working together for a long time. and then it hit... THIS IS MY JOB! oh man. i almost lost it right there. what a perfect mix of friendship we have together. i can't really explain it, but can you imagine being friends with everyone you work with, no drama, no talking behind each others backs, just blessing each other with laughter and encouragement and a shared passion. man, i really am blessed. i was having a rough time before camp but right now i feel on top of the world.

here's some of the other stuff that stuck out this week:

one of the kids that i haven't seen around much went from literally running away from people hugging him, to being the first give out hugs when the time came.
we were able to laugh during worship. i don't know how many guys i know that have a great sense of humor but put that aside when they get a mic in front of them in a worship setting.
the guys in my cabins broke a bunch of dvds and cds that one of the guys needed to get rid of.
the younger guys cabin did a skit where guys with guns came and cleared out all of the non-believers during a church service.
at campfire one night we had two chairs set up where people could either apologize or forgive whoever they needed to.
seeing my girls hanging out with so many different people.
praying for our mission team with just our youth group.
playing robert goulet for a skit one night.
laughing at every staff meeting.
eating it running up the ampitheater back wall and leaving a part of my leg on the wall.
the silence of the camp being empty.
being able to hear God in that silence.
the skits.
merle and burl.

well, it's too nice out today to stay inside. i'd love to stay and update you more on what's going on, but it's time i went and made some more stories.

one love, one heart.


Amanda said...

Wow DJ! What an awesome report back from yet another successful church camp! You make me wish I was a youth minister!! I'm so happy for you and the fact that you get to do what you love and are passionate about for the rest of your life with people you are so close to. What a blessing you have and what a blessing you are to all those kids and the rest of us who are encouraged by you. I can't think of anything that compells me more to follow the parts of my heart that lead me closer to God than seeing friends let God take thier lives and really use them. Thanks for sharing DJ, love ya!!

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