Victory Baptist Camp, Flatwoods, West Virginia
June 22-26, 2009
The week at Victory Baptist Camp was ending, and we gathered together for a time of testimonies around the bonfire in the chilly Friday night air.
I was sitting towards the back of the bonfire, and I became more and more burdened as I listened to the campers sharing their hearts with all of us. One by one they related how God had shown them their need to spend more time in the Word, to have a better attitude at home, to give their all to Him. More touching than anything else was to hear them share their home life and their special prayer requests to be what God wanted them to be. My heart broke as I realized the hardships they were facing on a daily basis. Hardships and trials that I couldn't even fathom. The workers also gave testimony to the fact that living for self was not worth it, but living for Jesus was ultimate joy.
When my sisters and I arrived at Victory Baptist Camp on Monday, June 22, 2009, I literally had no idea what to expect. Monica had been in touch with Pastor Paul Beatty about some of the details, (I admit, they sounded pretty crazy!), but overall I was a bit nervous about what the week entailed. Not only were we (The Marshall Sisters) providing special music for the week, but we were each being put in charge of a room of campers. We had had our share of being counselors before, but usually we were on call for special music and most of the real counseling was left up to others. A basic schedule was handed out for the week, but as I was to learn, it could and would be changed as the need arose. It was up to us counselors to keep our campers updated as to the day's events. It looked like it would be an unpredictable week.
We started off with a lice check for all campers and workers. Then it was off to the races. The week included such activities as a tractor pull, high energy games at the pool, big-ball volleyball and soccer (The soccer game involved goalies using water hoses on a fire truck brought from a local fire station...), field games like "American Eagle", (during which several were painfully injured), an unbelievable obstacle course, "Backwards Day" (Dinner was served at breakfast, we wore our clothes backwards, etc.), and last, but not least, polar-bearing. Yes, that's right. That's when you get up at 5am and head to a lake to swim. You also try to catch the greased watermelon while you're there and hope that your team gets it onto the shore first without breaking it open. Needless to say, we had enough activities on the agenda to keep us from getting too rested.
Not only were there plenty of activities to be had, there were classes the kids could sign up for--one of which was a music class. Bro. Jesse Kraigel was here this week, and we helped him a bit with the music classes in the afternoons. He is always a blast to be around and his piano playing and solos added much to the atmosphere of the music and services. Of course, the week wouldn't be complete without the "Red Book", right, Bro. Jesse? (See, I didn't forget that book!) We had fun singing a song with him and Pastor Paul Beatty the last night.
Bro. Charlie Tenney and Pastor Bret Wiley preached this week. The messages they brought were on target and practical. The altars were full and the campers' hearts were tender towards the Word of God. There were nine saved and four surrendered to full-time work.
The highlight this week was watching three of my campers accept the Lord as their Savior. I had been worried about being the right counselor to these young, seeking girls...and all they really needed was someone to listen to them and to care. Seeing those three get saved was worth the bout of nerves at the start of the week!
Before the bonfire was deserted, I had also given a word of testimony. It was more like a word of encouragement, actually. I told them how I was unsure about my role that week as a counselor, how I had struggled with knowing what to expect, and how God had taught me a bit more about being flexible and willing to be used. Then I told them that I would be praying for them as they returned home to their own problems and family issues that I could not pretend to understand. I told them not to quit, as we had seen so many do over the years.
The Lord knit our hearts with theirs, and we left on Saturday with the wonderful knowledge that God had blessed this week at Victory Baptist Camp and had used us to play a small part in the lives of these kids.
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