In the book of Hebrews, chapter 11 describes what faith looks like. It provides examples from the bible of people who had such strong faith even when those around them would turn from God’s promises if put in the same situation as to assure their own safety, freedom, or their own life. We can find endless examples of this kind of faith; through Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Sarah.
“All of these faithful ones died without receiving what God had promised them, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed the promises of God,” says verse 13. This reminds me that, everyone has the opportunity to influence someone else so vastly that their impact could very well change that person’s life completely. And, like these biblical characters, we may never even know or see the effects of our actions.

Now, there are two sides to this influence and I have touched upon them in the past. Obviously our words and our actions toward others can be so hurtful and condescending that they can lead someone into such deep emotions that they are scarred for the remainder of their life through such things like anorexia, depression, cutting, addictions, or even suicide.

But today, I want to look at the positive influence we can have on people. And this has been triggered by some of the guest groups I worked with during the Spring here at camp.

We have some pretty close interactions with the students while they are here; playing games, doing activities, eating together. We spend lots of time together. And it’s really pretty amazing because, on day one we know no one. These kids are all new to us, and we have the choice to either just be their leaders, go through the motions and dream about our evening time off, or we can choose to get to know the kids, treat them as our friends, and really make our time with them less like a job and more as a friendship. And it’s such a blessing to see the results of those efforts.

As one group was getting ready to leave, a young eighth grader by the name of Shaina, who had been in my small group for the past four days, approached me and asked, “Ben, when will I ever see you again?” As I told her that she just needed to come back in the summer and she could see me, she replied, “But you will be at the boys camp. I won’t see you even if I come to camp. I won’t see any of you ever again. Honestly, you guys are just so great, and so nice and so funny, you made me feel so important –like, I’m going to start to cry right now because I’ll probably never see you ever again in my whole life.”
A few groups before this, I was walking with a grade seven student. This group had already been at camp for a couple days, and this student had not been in my small group, but I did help instruct his group for one activity. As we were walking and talking, I said his name. As many students are quick to ask, ‘how do you know my name?’ this student posed a different comment. “That’s really impressive that you remember my name. I mean, I’ not even in my group yet you still have made the effort to get to know me well enough that you see me and can call me by name. I’ve been to some other camps and the staff there are just there to work and never get to know us. But you guys… you guys are different. You care about us, and that’s so cool.”

One of the last groups that we had this spring was just great. We had a lot of fun with them, and made some good friendships with them. Like a couple of the other groups, this group had a few students that even decided to add a couple of us as their friends to their Facebook page the day they got home. But this group in particular did something that really caught me off guard. As we were saying goodbye to them, they all piled onto their coach bus to begin their long drive back home. But before the doors closed, a large group of them filed back off the bus, camera’s in hand and wanted to take our picture. So, as their group leaders, we huddled in close with some of the students as well, and we smiled for the cameras. Even some of the teachers and parents were taking our pictures.

When I think of cameras, I think of capturing a moment. I think a photograph is a memory that can never be forgotten. And this is exactly what these kids were trying to obtain. We only had four days to get to know these kids, and in the end we became such role models and friends to these kids, that they wanted to get our pictures. They didn’t want to forget us. They associated their great camp retreat with the staff that worked directly with them. Staff that cared about them, and wanted to build friendships with them. Staff that, as one teacher put it, “are clearly not here for the money. You care about our kids, and we can totally see that that is because of your faith. Thank you so much, we will never forget you, and please send up a prayer every once and a while for us.” This coming from a teacher with a minimal faith background.
As Christians, we may not have lead all of our guest group students to a saving relationship with Christ, but we were able to demonstrate God’s love to them in the best of our abilities, and they saw that, and they will remember that. When they pull out those dusty photo’s years down the road, they will be able to point us out and say, ‘that guy was great. He really made that retreat amazing for me.’ And who knows what sort of influence I’ve really had on some of those kids. There could be something I said or did, that had impacted them so much that it was just a stepping stone unto the path toward an eternal life with God, I have no idea. But as Hebrews tells us, when we step out in faith, God too will step out. And we may never truly see the results of our impact, we may never experience the promises that God offers us, but we can strive to lead the type of lives that God can use to further His kingdom.

A man entered the office doors here at camp a few weeks ago. Telling his name, he asked the lady at the desk if she could possibly provide him with a particular man’s phone number or home address. He could only remember this man’s camp name because he had been this man’s cabin counselor over 30 years ago. He wanted to get in touch with him and personally let him know that those 30 years ago his counselor helped lead him to a relationship with Christ and now he was a pastor and he wanted to thank his counselor for all he had done for him.
As we step out in faith, we may never know what the type of impact we can have on the ones around us.

No comments: