by Linda Rex
One of the blessings of being camp chaplain is the opportunity I have to share life with people and children of all ages. Camp ministry is an intense experience to say the least. And even though my body complains about all the unaccustomed activity, I love being able to help out in this way.
Last week at The Rock summer camp, I was able to participate with Stephen Webb, the camp director, and my co-chaplain (and next year’s camp director) Dennis Elliott in presenting a series of chapel messages based on the theme “Truth Is!” This curriculum was designed to address the post-Christian culture’s view of truth being relative—something we create and adjust according to our situation and circumstance.
Our first chapel “What is Truth?” was presented by Pastor Webb and emphasized that in our search for truth and meaning in this life, we need to go to the right source. When Jesus stood before Pilate the governor and was asked by him, “What is truth?” Pilate had no idea that he was standing before the one who was the personification of truth. For truth is not just a concept or idea. Truth is a Person.
Dennis took this concept farther in Monday’s chapel message as he began to talk about “Truth is God”. Truth is not just a philosophical concept or idea. When we define truth, the basis for all that we know and believe as truth finds its source in God. This gives us a solid foundation on which to build our lives and make our decisions.
On Tuesday the topic for chapel was “Truth is a Man.” In this message I sought to show that truth is not something we create, though we have attempted to do so since the beginning of time. Truth is the Word of God in human flesh, the Person Jesus Christ, who is the exact representation of the One who is truth. Jesus lived, died and rose again as a human being, having experienced everything in life that we do. When he ascended, he sent the Holy Spirit to live in human hearts. Through the Spirit in us, we have truth in our inner beings, a truth that is understanding of and able to adjust to every situation. We don’t have to figure out what is truth and what is not truth because we have God living in us and through us as Jesus Christ in the Holy Spirit.
Wednesday Pastor Dennis encouraged everyone with his message “Truth is Unchanging.” We can live with assurance in relationship with God moment by moment because God isn’t transient or fickle. God is trustworthy and faithful and loves us completely and fully.
Thursday’s chapel began with worship, which was interrupted by the lights going out. A spotlight came on, and the campers saw three presentations of tragedies that people face in life: a doctor announcing the death of a loved one, a single mom who can’t take it any more, and an abusive husband and father. Then Pastor Steve asked the question “Where is Truth When the Lights Go Out?” He explained how Christians throughout the centuries often had to worship God and serve him without the luxury of bibles and music and all the normal trappings of church. The campers broke up into separate groups and participated in a group worship like the early Christians.
Friday I had the opportunity of introducing the chapel time “Truth is Worth Sharing.” Using the story of the Samaritan woman who Jesus met at Jacob’s well, I talked about the importance of sharing the truth. We encounter truth in Jesus Christ, for he is where God’s story and our story meet. When we are fully known by God and fully loved, we naturally want to share this story with others. After my chapel message, many campers came forward and told their stories. It was wonderful to see all the ways in which God had been working in their lives.
What was really inspiring about our camp experience was all the ways in which the theme of truth ended up being woven into many of our fireside chats and LifeTalk lunches. Each day after chapel, the campers participated in several activities including an open activity time during which they could visit the camp store and spend time with campers they would not otherwise see. Activities during the week included arts and crafts, paintball, archery, zipline, low ropes, field activities, swimming, and dancing, and a talent show.
One of the highlights of the evening activities was the “Night of the Spear.” The men and boys made their way through muddy trenches under barbed wire, climbed a wall together, swam across the lake and made their way to a forge. There they worked together to create a spearhead. The women and girls gathered together and had snacks and talked. The older women and I shared our stories, telling how God met us in the truth of who and what we were, and what it means to be a woman and the shaft that balances the spearhead. Earlier in the week the girls had drawn designs on quilt squares and these were all tied together into a banner. At our last chapel on Saturday, we saw the completed spear with its banner hanging over the stage where the worship band was performing.
Our final banquet and dance was another highlight of the evening activities. The boy dorms escorted the girl dorms to the gym where the tables were set beautifully and dinner was waiting. The staff served the campers, who had an opportunity to practice the etiquette skills they had been taught earlier in the day. After dinner, the floor was cleared and the campers and staff enjoyed dancing to music emceed by Bill Winn.
I am very grateful that I could participate with God in his ministry to the children and staff at The Rock. It seems that I come away having learned more and grown more than I ever expected. Sharing life and truth with others is a privilege and I am grateful to all of those who shared with me last week. You each were such a blessing to me!