Friday, June 2, 2017

Disciples Make Disciples

A backpack always feels a bit heavier on those last few kilometres before reaching the parking lot at the end of the trail. You trudge your way out of the bush into civilization—sweaty, dirty and beat. Then you see all those newbies beside their cars, just getting ready to set out. Their expensive gear is clean; their bags are packed to perfection. Suddenly your weariness and body odour take on new meaning. Exhaustion is actually a badge of honour, strenuously and bravely achieved. You try not to strut past the newbies, but you have been there and back again. And seen a thing or two.

That is how a summer camp worker feels at the end of their time at camp. Whether it is a week or a whole summer, on that last day there is a deep satisfaction that something timeless and significant was accomplished. Tired and entirely out of clean t-shirts? Yes. But so very worth every late night, every homesick camper, every pot washed. A week at camp is a glimpse of heaven, and no one knows it better than the one who came here to serve and made it to the end.

Perhaps the thought has never come to your mind – to serve for a week or more at a summer camp. Don’t you have to be a particular kind of person to do that, maybe even a peculiar kind of person? In my experience, the people who love camp and arrive year after year are simply those who were brave enough to give it one shot—and got hooked. However, you are right to think that serving at a Christian camp requires a certain kind of person.

Let’s imagine that, instead of going to camp, you decided to go work at a shoe factory for a week. What would that take? It would be important to have an understanding of your end product. You would need to know what a shoe is and the process for making one. So what is the end product of a Christian camp? Jesus told us: As you go, make disciples (Mat 28:19). At the Christian camp, disciples are what we do.

In the original language the words “make disciples” are actually one verb, so perhaps a closer translation might be, “Go and disciplize all nations.” If that is too technical for you, try this: Disciples produce disciples. This is no shoe factory; it is more like a sci-fi flick where robots replicate themselves. Wherever there are disciples, you should expect more to appear over time.

So if you want to “make disciples” at camp as Jesus commanded us, you need to first be one yourself. The essence of discipleship is to say to someone, “Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1).

This is the kind of person a Christian summer camp needs. Are you someone who is willing to simply do life with a bunch of kids, confident that as they follow you they will learn to follow Jesus? Then we want you at our camp. Your identity as a disciple of Christ is more important to camp leaders than your ability as a chef, your lifeguard certification or any level of youthful energy.

By the end of the week, something timeless and significant will be achieved. Your weariness will be an eternal badge to wear alongside your fellow camp saints. You will have seen God do a thing or two in the lives of kids. You will re-enter the everyday world trying hard not to strut. And I am pretty certain that we will see you back here again next year.

(Published in Light Magazine, April 2017)

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