7 ¶ As iron sharpens iron, So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.
Proverbs 27:17 (NKJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
Well, the Cash family has made it home from their week of working on staff at Bible camp. We’re exceedingly joyful but a bit exhausted. It takes a lot of energy to keep up with 32 middle-schoolers — and the cots in the barracks are not quite as comfortable as the nice beds that we have at home. We’ve been doing some resting since we got back and we’re almost back to our old selves.
For 30 years, helping at Bible camp in one way or another has been part of my summer tradition. Susan and I haven’t really given it much thought. Camp is just what the church does when summertime gets here.
But something happened in the past few years that made a big difference in the way I think about Christian camping. A young mother came to our church and began to worship with our congregation. She brought her husband with her and their babies. Gradually, she invited other relatives, and they brought their friends and family members. All in all, we have over a dozen new faces (all of whom we dearly love) worshiping with our congregation.
So one day I asked the young mother how, out of all of the congregations in the world, she had chosen ours. She said, “Oh, that’s easy. I knew you and Miss Susan at Bible Camp — when I was 8-years-old.”
To be honest, I’d forgotten that she’d been a camper so many years ago. I thought for a moment, and then I remembered her. I could see her clearly in my mind’s eye. She was the quiet little girl with the big brown eyes. The one who was never loud and who never drew a lot of attention to herself. The one with the very sweet smile.
And, in a flash, I had a profound realization about the Christian work that we do with children. We are all making an impression and exerting an influence. Even when we don’t realize it and even if we don’t remember it, we’re making a mark. It is both sobering and thrilling!
It is for that reason I am so very proud of and thankful for the fine staff members that I had this week — especially those who were college-aged and younger. There was Brooke (the Bible class teacher), who cheerfully led campers in calisthenics and the recitation “Gray Squirrel” each morning, and Jake, who delivered heart-felt and heart-stirring devotions (even when asked to speak at the last moment.)
There was Spencer, who taught the children about his mission trip to the country of Haiti, and who (along with Jake) directed afternoon-long marathons of “Capture the Flag.” There was Elizabeth, who so sweetly carried out anything and everything she was asked to do, and Madeline, who made a special trip home to search her closet for dresses for the little girls to wear on their “dates” for the Thursday night banquet.
And then there were our high-school-aged helpers, Melissa, Seth, and Lucas, who daily helped with the physical “grunt” work that has to be done to make church camp possible. Among these 8 dedicated workers, I’ve never had such a young group of staffers who carried out a week of camp with such thoroughness and love. Their kind and patient deeds will surely leave a mark.
I encourage you today to sign up your kids for a week of Christian camping. Perhaps you can volunteer to help in some way. It’s gonna leave a mark. But I guarantee it won’t hurt a bit.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and has spent the last 25 years being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi. (On week days he works at a public school.) He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 20) and Seth (age 17) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where the Preacher and his wife made a 10-foot-long ice cream sundae for the campers this week in a piece of gutter that they bought at Hailey’s Hardware.) He would love to hear from you in an email sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.