Student Fusion week 1: 275 campers. Pool closed because of filter breakage. Lift station down one day. Air conditioning unit in kitchen decides to quit. Walk in freezer stops freezing. Ice cream freezer goes kaput. Distractions, inconveniences, opportunities for discouragement. “But God.” Two words found numerous times in Scripture. Just when you think things are going one way, the Father lets you know He is in control, and He sees things differently. So many machines and conveniences that we tried to make work, but just couldn’t get them all done. We wanted to make sure that the 275 campers had every possibility to focus on the Lord this week; we just kept having distracting occurrences. But God. The Father didn’t let any of those things interfere with His interactions with the students or the staff. The students did not complain; the students did not bemoan anything; the students were focused on the Word and on the Message. Camp pastor (Dr. Michael Cramer) and the worship team (led by Jake Hueni) spoke into the hearts of the students—the students were open and focused. The pastors and leaders from the 14 different churches stayed centered on the Purpose, followed the lead of the Father and met the needs and concerns of the students. Result? Over 100 decisions for Christ; some first time, some rededication, and some open to following a call to vocational ministry. An incredible week, one for the books. Not sure how it could get better; the Father was definitely working in the lives of all who were here.
And then Student Fusion week 2.
Hard to explain unless you were here, but here goes. Different crowd, different camp pastor and worship team, different pastors, and leaders from across the state. Pool opened, lake good to use, all A/C units up and running, freezer and kitchen all up and running; staff and leadership all encouraged from last week and looking forward to this week. Monday and Tuesday we had incredible times of preaching and worship; lives being transformed. And then things completely out of our control began to occur; things we had no way to fix or change. Wednesday, we had dense, hazy smoke coming in from Canada (from Canada, for crying out loud!). Air quality issues: those with asthma had to be especially concerned. We could do nothing about it; we just had to be aware and cautious. So, we made it through the day of “purple haze.”
And then Thursday afternoon. During free time, when we had campers throughout the camp in various locations, a severe storm warning occurred. And it came in a hurry. We had the campers immediately go to designated places of shelter. The forecasters are saying we had a Derecho; a straight-line wind of nearly 80 miles an hour. For roughly three minutes winds whipped through the camp, the sound of limbs creaking and breaking, and no power. The staff, pastors and leaders worked in harmony to make certain all the students were in shelter and accounted for. Once the winds ceased, we had everyone go to the Worship Center to get a head count once again and to determine what we would do next. Can I just stop here for a second, and say how incredible it was to see how well behaved, how calm, and how thoughtful all the campers were as they responded during this emergency? But now, what do we do? We have no power—how are we going to do worship? We have no power-how are we going to feed 250 campers? But God.
God knew what was happening; He knew what needed to be done. He knew the hearts that needed to have all distractions taken from them. The camp pastor (Larry Hyche) and worship leader (Jake Brothers) began an acoustic set for worship…and the students responded. To hear the sound of all 250 campers and staff praising the Father after such a storm; to know that all who were here were safe; to feel the presence of the Lord in a very palpable way…. this is why we do what we do.
And how do we feed 250 with no electrical power? But God. You let your kitchen crew go to work and produce solutions. You let your Director of Operations (Rick Porter) fire up his smoker, and you start smoking burgers. You let the pastors and leaders from 20 churches minister to a generation that is wanting input. You let the Father continue to do what He does best as He calls tender hearts to Himself. It was an incredible evening of worship and fellowship.
Two weeks of incredible. Two weeks of seeing the possibilities and the future of SCBI. The students who were here—they are the next five years of SCBI. The pastors and leaders who were here (representing 34 different SCBI churches) exemplified what it means to be a “cooperating church”.
This summer has been incredible, and it’s only halfway over. I can tell you that the Father is at work—do not believe all the negative information you may be hearing on the news. Do not be distracted by all the chaos and turmoil that surrounds you. Though you may be up against a wall, remember “But God.” Know that the Father is in control, has been in control and always will be in control. Know that He is working this next generation for His plans and His purpose…and they are listening and responding to Him. I know this for a fact. I have seen it repeatedly here at your camp—Highland Lakes Baptist Camp and Conference Center.
Privileged to be
Team Leader for Highland Lakes
Dr. Jim Shields