January 25, 2017
I am glad you asked. The impact of one week of camp on the life of a camper is immeasurable. One camper at a time, the Lord is using counselors to share His love, His forgiveness, His promise. It then becomes our job to pray that the Lord’s will be done in the life of that camper. On occasion, the Lord allows us to see the fruits of our labor, the fruits of the RGC ministry. On occasion, letters like this arrive in the mailbox and testify of the good work of the ministry that was multiplied because some crazy young person sat on a picnic table and shared the love of Christ with her camper.
I received this letter and I would like to share it with you:
“Hey Miss Angie!!! How have you been?… I recently started a new job at ‘a ministry in Pennsylvania’ and as I reflect back on how I got to where I am, I can’t help but think about the impact Rhodes Grove made on me and how being a camper and then a counselor there has molded me and shaped me into who I am today. So, here’s a little story for you…
As a child growing up in a broken home was hard, living with verbal and physical abuse by the parent I lived with was even harder. I didn’t know how to escape and summers were always the hardest because you are home all the time. However, ‘one summer, I started attending camp at Rhodes Grove. I went to regular overnight camp and fell in love’. My counselor was amazing. She only knew me for a short time but she got me, she saw through the pain in my eyes and directed me to the feet of Christ. I was hurting because I couldn’t forgive a father who left, I couldn’t forgive him for the hurt he caused, I couldn’t forgive him because he “didn’t want me”… I just couldn’t forgive. That week changed my life forever, I cannot tell you who the speaker was, I cannot tell you what they talked about, but I can tell you this, my counselor invested in a life she had never met, she listened to my hurt and dried my tears, but most of all she explained to me what it meant to truly forgive. Sitting on the picnic tables outside of the A-row cabins, (yes before they were called the highland cabins!) I prayed, I prayed that the Lord would help me forgive my father for “abandoning me”. The following Sunday after my week of camp I called my father who I hadn’t spoken to or seen in over a year and asked if I could come to his house. I stood before my father and said, “I forgive you”. After saying these words, I can honestly say that all the hurt, bitterness, anger, frustrations, feeling of failures, were gone, the Lord had healed me from this burden of (un)forgiveness and hatred toward my father. I was a child forgiven by my heavenly father who LOVED me despite my failures, and wanted to carry me. However, it took me forgiving my earthly father to truly see this. The Sunday after camp changed my life because of one person who invested in me; one person who took time to truly listen and not give up. As I grew in the Lord during the next school year I decided that I wanted to allow the Lord to use me… as He used my counselor the summer before.
I’m not sure if I truly wanted to make an impact or if I just wanted to get the summer out of my house away from my abusive mother but, I started working at Rhodes Grove as a kitchen staff and moved up to counselor from there. When I became a counselor (in God’s timing and when my heart was in the right place), it seemed as though I always got the kids that were hurting the most, the kids that needed to know what forgiveness really looked like, to see who Christ truly was. I vividly remember sitting on the same picnic table I sat on with my counselor a few years before and talking to one of my campers. This camper was struggling with cutting and other self-harm issues as she looked to forgive her mother for the same things I had to forgive my father for. We talked for hours, (pretty sure we were up past curfew…oops!). We cried, we prayed, we laughed and we just sat in the presence of the Lord. The next morning in our staff meeting as we sang “bind us together” I began to cry in awe of what the Lord had done the night before. He used a story of a broken, hurting teenage girl to plant a seed. I took some time to myself that morning and asked the Lord to use me in ways I never imagined possible. It was in that moment as I cried alone in my cabin (not sure how I found alone time in a cabin!) that the Lord made it very clear that he wanted to use me in fulltime ministry to help hurting and troubled youth come to know and love the Lord.
…I had the honor of sharing the story that Christ was writing out in my life with so many teens, sharing a story of triumph through trials as I walked through life with them struggling just as much as they were but making it through each day with the hands of Christ carrying me. Our RGC students and staff became family, for many summers e learned to live in community with each other, we laughed together, cried together and grew together. You see, Rhodes Grove changed me, it rocked me to the core. So many tears were shed on those grounds, tears of pain, tears of joy, tears of triumph, but through those tears came stretching that I never thought possible.
In Romans 12:1-2 it says: “Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is- his good, pleasing and perfect will.” In ministry we offer our lives, we offer everything we have for the throne of Christ. Because of Rhodes Grove Camp, and some crazy teens deciding to live out these verses, my life was changed. As I embark on this new adventure of being in fulltime ministry, I can’t help but reflect on where the Lord has brought me from! He has taken my broken pieces and healed my hurting stubborn heart. I share this with you to say THANK YOU! Thank you Rhodes Grove Camp for changing lives and allowing the Lord to use crazy teens to change lives. I am honored to be one of those lives changed and I can only pray that I might have in some way been one of those crazy teens that planted a seed and changed a life through the love of Christ!” (sic)
Submitted by: Angela Monn