Although Merge Camp was not top on my list of things to do during the summer, God has a way of knowing what we need and working things out. Plus, my 11 year old daughter was going and she’s irresistibly cute, so off we went.
Oh wait, what did you say Beth? I have to help Blue and Jonathan lead a bunch of boys? Okay, stepping out of my all girl box now (I live with four - my 3 daughters and a beautiful, amazing wife of 22 years).
In all seriousness, it was an awesome week of God showing me what it means to love others. “Evidence” was the central focus of the week. Evidence of God’s existence, evidence of God’s love, and evidence of God in others when their faith in Christ changes how they act, speak, and serve one another.
Merge Camp gave me the opportunity to see this evidence first hand. Kids I didn’t even know on Monday, began to show me evidence of God’s love by the way they treated each other, by their thoughtful and heartfelt prayers, by their tears and hugs, and by their willingness to open up and talk about some pretty deep God stuff. I got to experience God’s presence, and witness his Holy Spirit working in children’s lives, proving to me once again that He is indeed a loving, caring, awesomely powerful Creator. I saw evidence of God in these kids and I couldn’t help but love them. That is God’s way.
Contributed by Chris Sawyer.
I just got back from Merge Camp. This is the second year I’ve had this opportunity. I’m fortunate that my upcoming 6th grader still thinks I’m cool enough to tag along to camp with him. I was there with 17 kids and 4 other adults from Embrace, and about 300 kids and a host of adults from other churches around Alabama and Georgia. Merge Camp is awesome. We play, we learn, we eat, we sing, we love, and we even sleep a little.
Mixed in with all that fun is something more. The kids at Merge Camp are challenged to commit their lives to Christ, and to go back out in the world to share the message of the Gospel with others, and it is inspiring to watch them respond to that challenge. The amazing thing about kids is their ability to approach Christ in such an unburdened manner. The Gospel, at its heart, is not the complicated thing that we adults often like to make it out to be. And watching our kids was such a powerful reminder of that. They sing and dance and pray to God with a freedom from any complicating societal pressures that is refreshing and enviable. As the song says, they worship with “arms high and heart abandoned, in awe of the one who gave it all.”
Some of them do, for the first time, accept Christ. And they do it with tears of joy, and giggles and laughter, and grins that their cheeks can barely contain. While we, the adults, are supposed to be the teachers and mentors, it is in that moment, watching our kids, that I find the roles strikingly reversed. Because there it is, right in front of me: A perfectly delivered lesson from a perfectly created child of God that His love for me is not complex, or difficult or heavy. It is simple and pure and true and all I have to do is joyously accept it. If only we could all come to Christ as these children do.
"Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children.” Luke 18:16 (NLT)
Contributed by Blue Brawner.