From the Shores of Sugar Lake
Greetings all! The blog has been a little quiet over the last few weeks, but here is a special edition coming to you live from Walford Station, ON.
This week, Esther and I are on the shore of Sugar Lake at Aush-Bik-Koong Bible Camp serving with a day camps version of the camp experience new to the 2021 season. We have 68 kids being bussed in from the surrounding towns each day and we get to “present the claims of Christ to children… through the camping experience (Camp ABK Mission Statement).”
It has been a beautiful week and a blessing to be a part of it so, I thought I would share a few lessons learned over the past few days that will encourage us all.
1. God Answers Prayer
When this week started, the weather forecast was 40-90% chance of rain and thunderstorms every day, all week. Rain is a bummer at camp, but it can be worked with. Thunder and lightning, however, means no water, no fields, no fun. Ryan said to us early on, “We have no “plan B” if it thunders all week, so pray the weather improves.”
So, we prayed. We prayed the rain would come overnight, or after the campers leave, or not at all. And that is what happened. On Sunday night, before camp started, the rain fell in waves. The thunder rocked the cabin where Esther and I were staying and kept us awake longer than we wanted. But as morning dawned, the rain had rained itself out and the sun came out to give us a gloriously hot day. On Tuesday, it rained in a light mist, but the thunder that was expected never came so, the waterfront was open to enjoy. On Wednesday, there was a thunderstorm watch on for the area and, while we heard thunder in the distance, not until the last 30 minutes of the day did the rain begin to fall. And not until the last camper had boarded the bus or been picked up did the thunder and rain turn into a monsoon and pushed through the windows, knocked out our power, and left us in awe of God’s power and might. When I woke up this morning, we had a clear forecast for the rest of the week. God heard our prayers and moved the heavens to give us the weather we needed to run our program with only minimal improvisation. Thank you, Lord.
God hears our prayers. Sometimes, it is the first prayer like the weather change we experienced, sometimes, it takes months or years of praying. But God always hears, He loves us, and wants to give us every good thing He has like a Father to His children.
2. The Glory of Youth
ABK has ten summer staff this summer to make the work of Camp happen. Ten volunteers to do the work of what normally would be 20-40 people. These young people work from before breakfast to long after dinner time to keep camp organized, clean, fun, and engaging. They clean washrooms, wash dishes, sanitize surfaces, guard the waterfront, teach games, help kids learn verses, and pick up lost and found and garbage all with smiles on their faces and seemingly endless energy. Proverbs 20:29 says, “The glory of young men [and women] is their strength.” Only young people could do the job that is being done here this summer. God has prepared each of these teens “for a time such as this (Esther 4:14).” This work is not for the faint of heart. Please continue to pray for the staff and volunteers that God would be glorified in their work and that He would provide the strength they need for the final weeks ahead.
3. Planting Seeds Matter
This week’s day camp is for kids that come from within a short bus ride of camp, or close enough that their parents can drop them off and pick them up again. That means that some of the traditional groups of campers that might come from the churches that support ABK from the Sault to North Bay are not as likely to be involved. Rather, it is kids from the communities surrounding camp who are looking for someplace fun for their children to go to after 16-18 months of boredom. Most of the kids who are at camp this week have had very little or no interaction with the church, the Bible, or the words and work of Jesus in their lives before this week at camp.
The messages this week have been centred on the theme of “Treasure Hunting”. We have learned that the God who created the world has treasures for us that will last forever. Treasures like His Word and forgiveness for our sins. When we find that treasure, it is worth everything we have to get it, though God gives it freely if we only ask. Tomorrow, we will present the final piece of the puzzle, not only is our relationship with God our greatest treasure, but God treasures us. He loves us so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to live a perfect life and die for our sins so we could be forgiven and have a relationship with him. Is there anything better than being able to share that message for the first time with someone? Is there any higher responsibility?
The parable of the sower (Matthew 13:1-23) takes on a starker reality in this environment. You can picture the hearts of children as tiny fields, each ready to receive the seed of the Gospel. We can’t do it perfectly, we can’t stop thorns, or birds, or the sun from stealing our work, but we can faithfully plant the seed of the Good News. God loves you, you are a sinner, Jesus died for you, ask for his forgiveness and follow him. “God gives the growth (1 Corinthians 3:6).”
Please pray that the seed of the gospel would take root and spread to the homes and families of these children.
4. Kids Need the Gospel
Today in group time we asked the question, “what would you do if you found buried treasure?” and I heard more than one 8–9-year-old say, “I would give it to my mom because she doesn’t have very much money right now.” That breaks my heart. This week at camp might be the greatest treasure some of these kids get this summer. Some of these kids know the reality that the treasures of this earth are few and far between, and those we do get can be stolen by thieves, eaten by moths or vermin, or ruined by rust and decay all too well. These kids need the Gospel. The Good News is that the treasure hordes of heaven are theirs in Christ. With every heavenly blessing theirs in Christ, their lives would be transformed. I think all of us could learn something from the little girl who wants to give her imaginary treasure to her mom. We all need that kind of humility and poverty of spirit to see the treasures of Christ as they truly are. Eternal, invaluable, immeasurable, and superior to all other things. Pray these kids would be touched by God’s generosity to them in Christ.
“He calling to him a child, he put him in the midst of them and said, “Truly, I say to you, unless you become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. Whoever receives one such child in my name receives me." – Matthew 18:2-5