It has been my privilege over the past three years, to serve on the board of trustees for the Rock Lake Christian Association. My relationship with the camp extends back far beyond those three years as it impacted the life and Christian upbringing of my wife Jody, all four of our children, and now we’re beginning to experience the fruits of such an impact upon yet a third generation in our family as the first two of our grandchildren are experiencing camp at Rock Lake. This year was Benjamin’s first taste of camp (Kindergarten) as he and his Dad spent an overnighter. Ben had a wonderful time, met some new friends and learned about Jesus in a camp environment.
Brooklyn, a second grader, stayed three days and nights – with no parents! This was Brooklyn’s second year at Rock Lake, so she was (in her mind) a seasoned pro! She also met some new friends and took to camp like a fish to water! But the thing that thrilled my heart more than anything else was this: on Tuesday night, after coming home from camp, about bedtime (for her) I got a phone call from Ryan, her Dad. He told me what a wonderful time Brooklyn had at camp, but what he’d actually called about was, before bedtime, Brooklyn wanted him to read her the story of the lost sheep. That was one of the stories they learned about at camp and she particularly liked it. Ryan knew it was in Matthew but wasn’t sure exactly where to find it. So we come to the conclusion she was talking about the Matthew 18 parable of the lost sheep, also in Luke 15. So he hung up and read her the story. Later he called back and told me how excited she was about the things she had learned at camp. Brooklyn is an exceptional reader for a second grader. She has a children’s bible with lots of pictures and narratives written in story form, but it seems that Brooklyn came home with the request for a Bible, “a real Bible with chapters and verses…like yours…”. She wanted an Adventure Bible, like the ones they had at camp.
In years past, other children have come back from camp with similar experiences, some with stirred desire to be baptized, some simply renewed faith and a closer walk with Jesus. Each year I see so many of our kids going off to camp and coming back again renewed and invigorated! And so many of these kids would most likely not be able to go were it not for the generosity and compassion of this congregation. Every penny spent is a penny invested in these young lives, in the Kingdom of God. Every hour of effort encouraging, teaching, supporting is an investment in the future, in the Kingdom of God.
Somebody said, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” I have no idea who said it, but they’re right. That’s why those first, early impressions are so, so important. They’re what sets the crease, the imprint.
The things we’re taught early on in life have a chance to set in. Those things you were taught in kindergarten; ABC’s, spelling your name, saying “please” and “thank you”, and “excuse me”, those are things that have stuck with you throughout your life. You don’t have to stop and think about those things. They’re engrained in you. That’s why those childhood years are called “formative” years.
So when you see our youngsters come up front in the sanctuary with quivering knees and recite scripture verses they’ve committed to memory, to earn points for camp….or When you find yourself wondering if all that work that goes into VBS is worth it… or You start to wonder if any of those kids in Sunday school classes are getting anything at all out of it…. Seeds are being planted. Training is underway. Kingdom work is being done! And it’s not going unnoticed! It’s ALL worth it!
Proverbs 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it.
(Thank You for Giving to the Lord by Ray Boltz)
I dreamed I went to heaven And you were there with me
We walked upon the streets of gold Beside the crystal sea
We heard the angels singing Then someone called your name
You turned and saw this young man And he was smiling as he came
And he said friend you may not know me now And then he said but wait
You used to teach my Sunday School When I was only eight
And every week you would say a prayer Before the class would start
And one day when you said that prayer I asked Jesus in my heart
Thank you for giving to the Lord I am a life that was changed
Thank you for giving to the Lord I am so glad you gave
In Christ, Rick