Part Two of "My Calling" Series...
It was 8 years ago when I was standing in the back of the outdoor chapel at Tanako. I had never been to a service that wasn’t led by an organ before. I kept thinking to myself, “This is church?” What was even more confusing was the emotions that I experienced at each worship service. Some of the older girls would cry and look for comfort in each other while I stood there thinking that I was in the midst of a cult!
The last night we had worship we were all gathered together and I was standing next to a few of the girls I had become friends with that week. It was all unplugged music with the lyrics on the screen. I looked up at the screen to see a blue background with a silhouette of a hand in the center. The lyrics in front read, “Here I am to worship, Here I am to bow down, Here I am to say that you’re my God.” That night was different than all the others. I started crying uncontrollably and didn’t know what to do. Before I knew it I had all these girls were surrounding me and giving me hugs. After the song was over, the singer announced that the night was over and if we wanted to go back to our cabins, we could. I bolted out of that chapel as fast as I could, hoping that Mike wouldn’t see me crying. At this point, I had not been in youth. This was my very first activity as a youth so he barely knew me and what he was going to face for the next six years.
There was the rule that we couldn’t go inside of the cabin without our cabin counselor so I sat on the steps waiting for Stackey to arrive. The girls came up to me again asking me why I was crying. My only response was that I was overjoyed that I finally made friends. “I’ve never had real friends before, and now I do.” That sentence was followed by hugs and more tears as we went back into the cabin for more stories and activities.
I’ll always remember that night as the gateway to my relationship with God. I was worried about so many things that night and as soon as I met God… it all disappeared. The ugly outfit I had to wear to the dance, the fact that I didn’t pack my flip flops and had to wear tennis shoes all week, the cute boy that didn’t notice me, and the youth minister that had no idea what he was getting himself into.
This was my beginning into an exciting time in my life. The theme for camp that week was “Not of this World.” I remember before we left camp that Mike said, “Remember the progress you’ve made in here. The world didn’t stop for the week you were in here. It was still going on and people won’t understand what you’ve truly seen and experienced.” I never knew what that really meant until I was dean of that camp six years later and said that same exact thing to the campers that put an imprint on my heart.
I could continue with what happened when I got home, but I’ll save that for the next part… Until then…
"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. (Romans 12:2)"