Here it is, the promised post about my sweet time in ole Weaverville, NC. Keep reading for highlights from my week (including pictures) and how the mission of Young Life changes lives (including mine).
First of all, you must know that this post may not make sense to you. Whenever I told people I was journeying 5 hours away with 8 of my high school friends for a week they responded with “good luck with that” and weird expressions. Let me say that if you were to tell me this was my life 2 years ago, I would give the same response. This is what is so beautiful about callings, something so foreign, strange and weird to someone is what makes the most sense to someone else. And it’s because of God.
In February 2014, after following God for about a year my dearest friend, Sara sent me a sermon from Young Life College. To this day she has no idea why she pulled out her phone and recorded the talk nor has no idea why she sent it to me.
This was the first Young Life “talk” I have ever heard. I wasn’t a believer in high school so the last thing I wanted to do was be involved in Young Life. Ironically, I thought Young Life leaders who came into our high school to eat lunch with us was the lamest thing ever….and here I am doing that exact thing. Anyways, the “talk” was by Bryan Spillman, a wonderful dude who spoke about John 5.
A story about Jesus, who was traveling in Jerusalem and stumbled upon a pool called “Bethesda”. I say stumbled for lack of a better word because Jesus really doesn’t stumble across anything. That day he intentionally saw a sick man, among man others who was also disabled, blind, paralyzed. This particular man had been lying at this pool for 38 years. This pool was a popular spot for the sick because it was known for its magical healing powers that occurs when the water is stirred occasionally. Jesus approached this man and asked him a life changing question, “Do you want to get well?” The man replied with excuses saying why he hasn’t gotten well before, not making it to the pool in time for healing, being pushed out of the way, etc. But Jesus looked beyond that, as he looks beyond our excuses everyday and told the man, “Get up! Pick up your mat and walk.” And the man did just that for he was healed.
So now you must be saying, great story Alexis but, what does this have to do with you being a Young Life leader?? Well, friends when I was in high school I wasn’t a believer, I too was like the sick man, paralyzed and blind to my sin and I actually lived in a town called Bethesda. When you google “Bethesda” you will see that it means a place of “shame and brokenness” but, it also has another meaning, “hope and mercy”.
I believed then and still to this day that this sermon, recorded and sent me in February was God, whispering into my soul, “I want you to go back to Bethesda (go back into a high school), go to the pool of shame and brokenness where you once laid (go be with high schoolers) for I have healed you (made me walk again) and I want you to share your story of hope and mercy (getting out of Bethesda) and be my vessel to ask high school girls if they want to get well.” And I did.
So here I am, over a year later literally by the grace of God taking these beautiful, wonderful and now redeemed 8 high school girls to Young Life camp.
Such a treat considering camps in general are the closest thing we have to heaven on earth, in my opinion. Because of the isolation from the darkness of the outside world, and being surrounded by nature designed for us to enjoy with our vulnerable make-up-free faces and we can truly feel the sunshine on our skin and the radiation from God’s people. A safe place, where joy multiples and love covers us. Camp is certainly a slice of heaven.
One of my favorite things throughout the week at camp was the musical guest, Ryan Long. When I first heard him play I was so memorized by his lyrics and melody of story songs. He has been telling his story using music at Young Life Camps for almost 20 years.
Also, to give you a little bit of camp culture I must share with you the “Young Life Mocha”. Which I indulged in about 2 or 3 times a day. A simple but delicious recipe of a cup of black coffee combined with a packet of Swiss Miss Hot Chocolate, and stir.
I would say the most challenging yet, most rewarding event of the week was the 5 mile hike up a mountain. Yes, you heard that right, I hiked a mountain!! It look about 2 hours to reach the 4,239 feet elevation and 2 hours to return safety to the ground for all 400+ of us campers and let me say, what a journey.
The hike took place the day after the Cross talk was given and provided an perfect example of what our relationship with Jesus is like. It’s not easy, and it’s certainly not promised to be easy, much like the hike. But, it is worth it for the (new) view of the world much like we got when we reached the top and throughout the up and downs of your journey to simply know that you are not alone.
I wanted to leave you all with the most powerful yet simple thing we did all week that you can take with you. Yes, it’s more simple then the Young Life Mocha recipe! It is to take 15 minutes. After the Sin talk and the Cross talk at camp everyone was instructed to go out settle somewhere outside at camp, alone and sit for 15 minutes. In hopes that you would be alone with your thoughts but, not alone when you saw the stars and felt the soft evening breeze. That you would have a conversation with God, whether it was your first or one of many. That you would say you are sorry and ask for forgiveness, that you would accept His forgiveness, that you would be ever changed by His love and that you would start or continue a relationship with Him. I wish this moment for you, I wish this moment for you everyday, that you are humbled by God and all He has done for you and that you will live in thanksgiving and no longer live in emptiness or shame. For He can heal you and that He asks you every day, “Do you want to get well?”
Friends, thank you so much for reading this post. I hope it brought you understanding about what ministry is supposed to look like and who God is.