There’s just something about watching young people draw closer to God that really pulls at my heartstrings. Mind you, it’s the first time that I’ve experience it firsthand from the other side, but it’s definitely a feeling that swells up an inexplicable joy deep down. I say this because just last week, I was privileged to be a part of a team of counselors that helped out with the Hume Lake Camp that was held here in Chiang Mai. Let me tell you in all honest truths: I’ve never been so blessed watching the youth grow in their walk with the Lord.
A team from Hume Lake, a Christian camp based in California, have been coming up to Chiang Mai, Thailand every other year long before I’ve been here (at least way before 2006) to host a summer-like camp for the MKs and TCKs of Thailand. The week would normally be split in two separate camps (the high school and middle school camp). Knowing that I’m still partially hung-over from my statistic exams and endless thesis proposal (not even a bit of alcohol was consumed during those times, I assure you), I knew I wasn’t going to last a whole week. So I volunteered to be with the older students. After much praying with God and prodding the camp director, I was placed as the cabin counselor to fourteen 9th-11th graders from my alma-mater.
Let me tell you, we had fun! From a bit of sugar-high from cookies, to awkward questions and competitive board games, God opened the door for me to know these girls in a new light. I’ve known most of them more or less since I was in high school (they were in elementary!!!), but God broke the ice and not only was I able to connect with them, they were able to build stronger relationships with each other those 4 days and 3 nights.
I’ve always been partial to camps, as a bit over a decade ago, I accepted my relationship with Jesus Christ as my own while I was in one, namely Centrifuge. It was no longer the faith of my parents, but it was between me and God. It was a raw inner struggle that I probably would’ve been broken if I figured it out on my own. But God is faithful. At that point in time, He gave me the most beautiful youth pastor, Christina, whose joy and love for God just exudes out of her being. She held me when I cried and comforted me with the Truth when I blubbered out in frustration as any confused 8th grader would when smacked in the face with this ‘God thing.’
So when camper applications for Hume Lake came along, I was ridiculously excited. Maybe this time round, as a counselor, I could do what Christina did for me and help guide the girls along in their walk with the Lord. What I got from Hume was something completely different.
It was amazing watching these kids pour their hearts out to God and crying out for Him to forgive them and accept them. It was beautiful, seeing them find His grace for them and that He has chosen them to be a part of His kingdom. And that was mostly what I did, watching and seeing. Because from how everything turned out, that was how God arranged for me to be, to stay put, stop talking and let go.
I was so excited! I brought cookies, games and nail polish. I hung out with the girls and asked them questions. However when it came down to the core discussions during our cabin group time, God laid in my heart to split my group up and ask the four older girls to lead. While I was praying during their small group time, I made it a point to visit each group and it was heart-warming to see these high school juniors take the mantle and share their struggles and experiences with those in their groups.
I was so excited to do something, to make something happen, to be a part of each of their journey. But then God reminds me, it’s not about me. I’m not the one who would impact their lives. I’m not the one who would guide them throughout their journey. It’s God.
It doesn’t mean though that I was insignificant. I like to think of it more of I was one of the minor stage hands, pulling up and down all the levers on set, while God was the main actor and director in this play called ‘A Young Christian’s Life’ and it’s a beautiful masterpiece.
Hume Lake 2013 is just prologue for many of these young people. For some, it’s still the trailer of their Christian life. I don’t know how the story ends, but I’m sure it will be a deep and challenging ride, filled with plot twists, drama and intrigue, because hey! Who ever said being a Christ-follower was easy?