Thoughts From The Hill…

Dear Friends:

Kyla, a brown-headed, dark-eyed fifteen year old, came to this summer’s leadership camp the second week in July. She travelled to Kentucky from California by way of Texas, urged to attend by her older sister, Courtney, who had been a camper in her teenage years. Like many of the other new young campers this year on The Hill, Kyla, somewhat enthusiastic but nervous, anxiously questioned the seasoned campers about the work crews, teaching sessions, and camp food. As she looked cautiously around on that first Sunday afternoon she had no idea what God had in store for her. Her life would change forever within the next seventy-two hours.

By late Wednesday evening, nearly 10:30 pm, when her room counselor called a small group gathering she was exhausted from the long day and had been eager to take her turn in the shower. Instead, she threw herself on her bed in the dorm room, back to the wall, head buried in her knees which were pulled to her chest. She wasn’t in the mood to discuss the evenings teaching. Her counselor, sensing something more was going on in Kyla than wanting to get cleaned up and in bed, ushered the other girls into another room for their bedtime discussion.

“Kyla, do you want to tell me what’s going on? ” her counselor, Deanna asked once they were alone.

“Nothing, I wanted to take a shower. I’m tired,” she answered, daring Deanna to ask for more. Then, without waiting for Deanna’s urging Kyla blurted out: “I just don’t understand what the others mean when they say they’re hearing from God.”

“Father, please give me wisdom and direction,” Deanna uttered under her breath, wondering how to answer such a big question from such a young heart. She picked up her Bible and sat down on the bed next to Kyla and quickly thumbed through the pages. She sensed Kyla was already hearing God’s quiet voice offering his love and salvation. She turned to Romans 10 verse 9.

“If you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you shall be saved,” Deanna read.

Kyla listened intently, not saying a word. Deanna started to explain God’s plan for all people to live as part of his family. A few minutes later, hoping God’s word had cleared some of Kyla’s muddled thoughts, she looked at Kyla and asked: “Do you believe the words contained in the Bible about Jesus as our means to Salvation?”

“I believe,” Kyla uttered softly from her very tender and pliable heart. After praying together, Deanna explained what Kyla’s new life in Christ would mean for her.

The next morning at breakfast, the newly transformed Kyla elatedly told friends and family of her Savior and life in Him. But the greatest evidence of Kyla’s change was the smile in her eyes.

We count it a privilege to work to provide a camp environment where students who have never entered into a place of salvation through Jesus can hear the gospel clearly. But we are equally passionate about presenting the truth for those young minds and hearts who desire to grow in their faith, understanding of God’s heart, and ability to be equipped to defend the gospel. We strive for them to learn to be discerning listeners to The Holy Spirit.

During this year’s camp Kyla and others had the opportunity to hear gifted teachers on subjects such as the reliability of Scripture and proof of the resurrection. They looked at how to study Scripture contextually and waded through the age-old debate of the purpose of evil and suffering. They heard of God’s value of human life, their life. They were challenged to think through and present their thoughts on many of these topics. But permeating throughout all the topics presented to these bright and energetic kids, was always the message we view as vital to their spiritual growth: As saved individuals, we are completely new creations; our old nature with which we were born was crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20).

Because we have a brand new self, we have been made righteous and complete before God. And further good news is that because we have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, we can have victory over the power of sin indwelling our flesh that can sometimes manifest itself in our daily behavior. It’s so critical for all of us, but particularly so in these young lives, to know how much they are loved and treasured by Jesus. They don’t have to walk around feeling as if they are a disappointment to God nor do they have to study the Bible, pray or defend the faith to gain his approval. Now they get to do all these valuable and beneficial things solely for the purpose of discovering the heart of this all loving powerful God with whom they will spend all eternity. Their faith is then matured, God is honored and pleased, and they are enabled and empowered to share some really good news as they navigate this earthly maze.