by Melissa Meyers
Colossians 1: 22 – But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-
“Do you want to go to summer camp?” my mom said. Little did I know at that time what an impact that question would have on my life and my family. Coincidently, my eleven year old self had just finished reading a book set at a girls’ summer camp. “Sure,” I said. So my mom signed me up for the fourth-sixth grade Red Rock camp in Northern Minnesota.
I had no idea what to expect, but this was the first time I remember being away from my family for a whole week. I eagerly packed my bag, and one sunny June morning headed North with an elderly couple, a friend of my mom’s and her daughter, who were all attending camp that week from our church. It was an intergenerational camp on the shores of Lake Koronis with a dynamic adult, kids, and youth program.
What I didn’t know when I said I wanted to go to summer camp was that I would be attending a camp rich in a history of evangelism and revival. When I showed up in 1990 with my shorts, swimsuits, and pajamas tucked into my bag, I was part of the 68th year that a Bible camp had been held here. This particular camp had been birthed from camp revivals popular at the turn of the century.
And the moment I walked into my rustic cabin I was greeted by girls my own age, and my counselor, who were ready to make friends and show me love. Throughout the week, I who had always attended church with my family, for the first time began to connect the truth behind all those ancient Bible stories I had learned in Sunday School to my own life.
Uncle Chuck was the children’s teacher that week and with a paint brush, booming voice, and an ability to tell stories he lead me down a path to be able to understand that a loving and caring God wanted to be part of my every day life. ME. That little girl with blonde messy hair, the middle child, the daughter of a recovering alcoholic, who lived in an insignificant town and had always felt extremely unimportant. ME.
I can clearly remember to this day, 34 years later, the story he told and illustrated with his paint brush. It was about a tightwire walker crossing Niagara falls over a quarter of a mile to get to the other side of the falls. Then he crossed again this time with a wheelbarrow. While the crowd cheered on, he then asked if they believed he could push a person sitting in the wheelbarrow over the tightrope. “Yes!” came the cheers. With the rushing of water and constant sound of its powerful thundering force in the background, he then asked for a volunteer from the audience. At this, everyone grew silent.
Uncle Chuck used this story as an illustration for faith. Will we believe that Jesus is our connection to God? In this story the powerful waterfall was an symbol for what separated us from God, our own wrongdoings. He explained we are left with a great chasm separating us from God. Then he explained it in a way I could understand the truth as a child. By dying on the cross, Jesus had built a connection for us through his death and resurrection. By faith, we needed to get in the wheelbarrow and let Jesus carry us across to God.
At eleven, the truth that the God of the Universe wanted to be a apart of my every day life, and it was my choice to accept this and trust, washed over me as something immensely beautiful. And, I invited Christ to be a part of my life, I acknowledged I needed to be forgiven. Plenty of fighting with my sisters, yelling at my mom, disobeying my dad came to mind. Then a feeling of wholeness seeped in, and I understood something sacred happened that week at camp. In a familiar spiritual phrase, “I had met Jesus.” This did change the trajectory of my whole life. It would eventually lead me to serving in places I never imagined. But, that’s another story.
Bible summer camps hold a very special place in my heart and if you are invested in one, volunteering, working, pouring your heart out every day. Thank you! What you are doing does make a difference!
Melissa Meyers is co-editor of The Stir, wife to John, and mother to Malcolm (17) and Emily (14). She is a Neonatal Nurse and Creative Writer. She is the author of, Beneath the Ancient Dust: Inspirational Stories from Nine Years in Afghanistan. At Calvary, she enjoys teaching on Thursday mornings at Renovare. Her hobbies are coffee, reading, and taking long walks. She will accept an invitation out for coffee anytime.