Valley Vollies

May 23, 2018

 

One of the things I had the privilege of doing lately as part of the Forge Intern program at Camp Arnes was travelling to a partner camp in Australia. I served as a volunteer (which I will refer to as “volly” from this point forward to pay my respects to the locals) at Mill Valley Ranch for five and a half weeks. I came from a background of Outdoor Education and some administration, but these hardly prepared me for what I was to encounter in that small community an hour’s drive from Melbourne. God surprised me in some remarkable ways Down Under. I’d love to share one of these experiences with you. 

 

My area of focus as a volly was a bunkhouse leader. I had very little experience in leading a cabin but I was convinced this was an area I needed to grow in. So, I invested my efforts in learning. I’m glad I did. A particular bunkhouse leader’s meeting stands out to me above all the others. Mill Valley’s maintenance man, Bill, shared a fantastic object lesson about an ordinary coffee mug. The mug sat on the table but where people sat around the table determined what their perspective was of the mug. Those who saw just the round edges didn’t know there was a handle but those who saw it knew how to properly hold the mug by the handle. “It’s the same way with how we view camp ministry,” Bill said. 

 

He then went on to share from 2 Corinthians 3:5-6 which reads, “Not that we are competent in ourselves to claim anything for ourselves, but our competence comes from God. He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant – not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills but the Spirit gives life.” And if we missed the point Bill read further from 2 Corinthians 6:1: “As 

God’s co-workers we urge you not to receive God’s grace in vain.” With these verses in mind, he explained that the Spirit of God has qualified us as short-term vollies at camp to be ministers. It wasn’t a far cry then to consider that we were on a missions trip because camp is a mission field as much as the unreached peoples are mission fields. Bill then encouraged us that everything we need to be successful here at Mill Valley is available to us because God is for us (Romans 8:31). As vollies we’re here as missionaries. This has not come about from our own efforts but because of the prayers of others that are answered because God led us here. 

 

Hearing these words in an international camping context gave me fresh insight and purpose as I returned home to Canada and Camp Arnes. Indeed, it was Christ who said, “The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.” (Matthew 9:37-38). God sent me to Australia to become like the seed that fell on the good soil so that I could hear, accept and nurture the Word that was planted. My prayer is that this seed will continue to grow that it may bear fruit through ministry as a missionary at Camp Arnes.

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