Camp is all about adventuring in God’s creation and taking steps closer to Him, this summer just over 120 campers made a first time decision to follow Jesus and be Christians. Truly a life transforming moment for all of these campers. This is one campers story as told by her counselor Abby.
“The first night of campfire, the Ranch Camp Lead talked about how the gospel relates to our purpose on earth. She talked about how every person is a sinner and how Jesus died for everyone to save us. During campfire, my camper Emma began to cry. I later learned that her tears were because she thinks she is a good person, and that Jesus should accept everyone for who they are, sin and all. If God is so loving, why can’t He love people as they are with their sin?
Emma is one of the smartest young girls I have ever met. She asks huge questions; about God’s origin, how ancient religions collapse and if that will happen to Christianity, about how we know God is a “He”, etc. I knew that it would take lots of letting her think out loud and processing the logic of the gospel in order for her to understand it.
As the week went on, the gospel continued to be shared, and each time Emma was bothered and confused as to why she would need a savior. The concept of everyone being a sinner doesn’t seem to click with her.
Then Friday afternoon came. In our small group time, another one of my campers talked about how she wants to share Jesus with her friends because she is so grateful that He saved her from her sins. Emma begins to cry, and I send my girls to walk with another counselor so that I can walk with Emma.
Again, Emma cannot understand how she can be a sinner, she’s a good person. I asked her if she has ever lied, had stolen something, called someone stupid, or simply thought of calling someone stupid. All those things are sins. She counters that she hasn’t committed a major sin, like killing someone, so she should be good enough for God. I explain how God is completely PERFECT. His bar is set so much higher than we could ever reach. Even the tiniest sin is below His perfect standard. I explained how just as her parents make the rules because they made her, God gets to make the rules because He made us, and He made heaven. It’s only fair He gets to set the standard for what He created. It takes a lot of analogies (parent-child analogies, a just judge, potter creating something, height requirements for a rollercoaster), but she slowly begins to understand that every sin that she has ever done, even before she could think, keeps her from Heaven with God. Jesus died for all of those sins, and came down to our level and brought us up on His perfect salvation to be with God. Emma sits in silence several times throughout the conversation, just thinking.
I let her process, ask me questions, logic her way through the gospel. Soon, the tears start again. She quietly says, “I don’t want to be a sinner anymore. I want Jesus to save me.” After an hour long conversation, a week of tears and gospel talks every day, we were able to pray together. During our prayer together she tells Jesus she is a sinner and that she believes that He died for her. She wants to be clean and be with Him in Heaven.
When we open our eyes, she has the biggest grin with joyous tears streaming down her face. She takes a big sigh, and I remember this specific quote from her. Earlier in the day, she had said that camp was one of the best weeks of her life. After that prayer, she says with a smile, “I know what the best week of my life will be. When I get to see Jesus in Heaven!”
As told by Abby Risma, Ranch