2 August 2014

Not Just for Cleaned-up Campers



“Yes, life gets messy sometimes. Everyone is not given the same chances in life. We are honored to be able to share God’s love with a wide range of people. We want to seize the opportunities that He gives us.”

Executive Director David Jaquess of New Life Ranch (Okla.) wrote those words in a personal email to me after I commented on his camp’s latest prayer update. I had written him because I was struck by the stories he had shared about the real-life situations of several people his team has been working with lately.  With David’s permission, I’ll share them below.

  • A 16-year-old girl, whom I have met with for nearly two years, ran away to be with a 30-year-old guy she probably met on the internet. She has made some contact by text, but won’t tell where she’s at or the name of the person she’s with. Please pray for her safety.
  • A 17-year-old girl is pregnant and trying to decide if she’s going to keep the baby or put him/her up for adoption. She has grown a lot spiritually this semester. Please pray for her continued growth.
  • A 16-year-old boy started in a growth group with us, and has proven to have tremendous desire to grow in his walk with the Lord. He shows great insight and passion during our Bible study discussions, and is growing into quite a good leader among the other kids. However, he keeps talking about the frustration he feels with himself, and the choices he makes when he’s at home and at school. He holds himself to a very high standard. He’s extremely bright, but is doing poorly in school because he lacks motivation in school. This stems from the depression and loneliness he feels when he’s at home due to tension and fighting going on between his parents. He feels alive when he’s with us at the ranch, but it’s hard for him to go home.
  • An 18-year-old girl in our youth group threatened to kill herself. After a long talk and a look at some new, hopeful options, she promised not to hurt herself, but, instead, pursue a new kind of life. On our van ride home, she said she wanted to give her life to Christ! Life is still hard for her. Please pray for trust and endurance as she walks in a new light.
  • A little girl in kindergarten and her first grade brother had their home invaded in a big drug bust. Their mom’s boyfriend is in jail, and their mother is keeping the kids at the house in great fear that, as an informant, drug dealers will come and try to harm her. Please pray for this family’s safety and for opportunities to share the love of Christ with them. The kids will be participating in our summer enrichment program in Colcord. They have great emotional needs, and, last year, they were quite a handful. Please pray for our summer staff and Soma’s (those in the last year of our three year Summer Leadership Training) to have great patience and understanding, as well as Godly words of wisdom to give them.

When I read the New Life Ranch update, I felt a deep appreciation for what the men and women in Christian camping across the U.S. do to touch lives, no matter how messy, every day, every week.

Over the centuries, the Church has developed a sometimes-deserved reputation for building great brick edifices, not just to house its people and activities, but to keep the world out.

The model of Jesus is quite different. He walked the streets and highways of His time, taking the opportunity to interact with others in the course of their daily lives, which were often complicated, to say the least. He spoke with the Samaritan woman at the well who had had five husbands and was living with a man she was not married to. He reached out and touched a man with leprosy, though this touch was prohibited because it would defile the person who touched a leper. He noticed the hated tax collector who had climbed a tree to see him, and invited himself to the man’s house for a meal.

That’s the model I saw followed in the New Life Ranch prayer update.

Thank you, David Jaquess and NLR team, and thank you to those who minister to anyone God brings your way, regardless of how “messy” their lives may be.

2 thoughts on “Not Just for Cleaned-up Campers

  1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Scott. And I’m grateful for a youth minister from your church who seems to have followed the pattern of Jesus, not hoping to avoid the messiness of unchurched kids, but stepping into their lives and demonstrating God’s love.

    Just like so many in Christian camping. I appreciate you all.

  2. I very much appreciate the thoughts expressed in “Not Just for Cleaned-up Campers”
    How true it is. Camp isn’t just for “Cleaned up Campers” just like church isn’t a “Hotel for Saints but rather it is a Hospital for Sinners”
    A picture of “Modeling Christ” to me is taking note how Christ gave special attention to people that weren’t “Cleaned Up” like the man with leprocy whom He touched and Zaccheus the tax collector whom He went and sat down to a meal with.
    I am sad to say this is not always the case.
    The youth minister at our church just returned from a youth summer camp. Even though the enemy tried to de-rail all the wonderful work being done . . the good news is that the Lord did great things amidst everything. Numerous un-churched teens became saved because our youth minister took time to minister to them.
    As it turns out, the majority of the resistance to ministry actually came from the camp director of the camp. The camp director was appalled and expressed great dis-satisfaction that we would bring “so many un-churched kids to camp” It is truly sad.
    There were a number of health & safety related concerns at that camp . . . but without a doubt the worst concern was the camp director’s forgetting what ministry is all about.

    Anyway, I love the sentence “Yes, life gets messy sometimes. Everyone is not given the same chances in life. We are honored to be able to share God’s love with a wide range of people. We want to seize the opportunities that He gives us.”

    Thanks for the message.

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