When I started hanging with team at Contact last fall, I got excited about everything that we do at Contact!
Except Camp Mo...
I am not a fan of the outdoors or camping. I love admiring the beauty of nature, for sure, but I like to do it through a window, in air conditioning, on a couch. Especially in the summer. When I first heard about Camp Mo, I had my first and only experience of wondering if Contact really was the place for me.
Obviously, that didn't last. God calls us to uncomfortable places all the time, and following God into uncomfortable places is one of the best ways to grow as a Christian. So, with dread in my heart for months, I accepted that I'd be headed to sleep on a cot under a big top tent with a bunch of middle school boys in the middle of the Missouri summer.
Now that we're back, I can honestly say that I still really hate the outdoors and camping and the summer heat! But the trip wasn't about me and my preferences (no matter how many comments I made; hopefully they were funny and not obnoxious), Camp Mo was about taking 27 middle schoolers away from the city and the pressures of their lives and about allowing them to be kids surrounded by Christians.
Camp Mo was often a struggle. We faced a lot of challenges with discipline, hurtful speech, and wanting to go home... and that was just the adults! More times than I'm proud to admit, I was short with a teen, or I let my voice go from gentle to harsh, or I dismissed something I should have engaged with, but I hope that, despite the weaknesses that constantly slapped me in the face, God was able to use me. I hope that I was an example of Christ for the majority of the week. I hope that I was patient and kind. I hope the youth that came know that I think they are amazing and that I love them.
Because I can't even imagine what it's like to be one of our teens. When we were dropping a couple of them off on Friday back home, there were four police cars at their apartment complex. One of the kids said, very calmly and matter-of-fact, "Oh, there was probably another shooting." WHAT!? How can you be 12 and that's commonplace? How do you live in that environment? How can we show you Jesus?
I don't have the answers. I know that God is powerful and is among us and is working in these kids. I also know that I'm not following Christ everywhere He wants me to go; sometimes it just seems so hard or incovenient. My wife was at a conference while we were at Camp Mo, and she sent me this quote during the week. "When a flower doesn't bloom, you fix the environment- not the flower." What can we do, as Contact Mission Church of Christ, to make sure these kids we GET TO pick up and spend time with are blooming?
In the coming weeks, our interns are going to share thoughts and stories from the summer, watch for the first one this coming Wednesday-ish (6/21, probably). As you read those stories and reflect on the mission of Contact, consider how we can help these flowers bloom.
Grace and Peace,
PS - There were a lot of really fun things, too! We had a lot of great classes, fun times swimming and fishing, delicious meals, and bonding out the wazoo. I started typing and heavy stuff came out, so I let it happen, but I would rate the trip a positive overall. Hopefully the interns who write about Camp Mo will speak to a lot of those great things!