This is a guest post by Angela Mannino, a student who has attended numerous children and youth camps at Mount Hermon.
Christianity has been defined as many things. Some say hypocrites. Some say extremists. Some say goodie-two shoes. For me, Christianity has been defined as a relationship with the Creator of the universe and the God that “the waves and wind obey,” not a religion with a list of rules and regulations that I have to follow in order to please a deity that may or may not punish me.
It is because of Mount Hermon programs, mostly Ponderosa Lodge, that I have developed this definition. I have learned in my eleven years attending Mount Hermon camps that God is not about making us do things or punishing us when we are wrong—which is quite often. God is loving while powerful. God is compassionate while jealous. God is giving while just.
I wasn’t living a godly life. I didn’t really accept all the things that God commanded and said. I didn’t understand that the Bible is the Truth and that is final. There’s nothing I can do about that. Before last summer, I was much more liberal and less in tune with the Holy Spirit. I didn’t read the Bible very often (in fact, I resented the Bible), nor did I pray (at all, almost). I watched things I shouldn’t have watched and read things I shouldn’t have. I indulged in the devil’s delights more than I care to remember.
All the while, I was attending church, leading worship for elementary and high school-aged kids on Sundays and Wednesdays. I participated in church functions and invited people to youth group. I guess you could say I was a stereotypical Christian for a while; my hypocrisy and defiance was so insane, it’s scary just thinking about it.
This place is life-changing. I came to camp last year expecting to be let down by people and not be included, which is exactly what happened. I had thoughts that people didn’t want me around and were annoyed by me. I let that get the better of me and it showed. People avoided me because I was completely shut off and unwilling to be moved. It wasn’t until Wednesday night, D.O.S. night (discipline of silence) that things turned around. After ten years of lying and crying, complaining and hating, God washed over me in one small motion, but a huge movement occurred within me.
This place is safe. My heart is secure in the Lord because of the people He surrounded me with there. Those people have helped me keep my camp high moving and getting better. Through them, I see God’s grace and God’s love. Thank you, Ponderosa Lodge.