Reflection: Pretty Good Counselor

In Day 2 of my CentriKid blog, I mentioned the Adult Gathering that we had on Tuesday.  I was way too tired that night to do justice to what we learned during that Adult Gathering so I decided to put it off until I had some time to invest in explaining what was discussed.  I think the Tuesday Adult Gathering was by far my favorite this year.   We opened the session as usual with the Camp Director, Ellie, giving us the pertinent info for the day and then Austin, the worship leader, took the stage and led us in a great time of worship and prayer.  Pastor James followed to spend some time with us talking about how we can take this week of camp and the relationships we form with the kids and continue to invest in their lives when we return home.

Throughout the Bible Studies at camp the kids were learning about the trinity.  The staffers may have not specifically said the word “trinity”, but they learned about God the Father on Tuesday, Jesus on Wednesday and the Holy Spirit on Thursday.  Pastor James pointed out to us several times the “trinity footprint” shows up in the Bible.  He mentioned Jesus’ Baptism and creation, and then he mentioned Isaiah 9:6.  That’s not a verse I usually think about when we talk about the trinity, but it certainly mentions more than one part of the triune God.

“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders.  And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.” – Isaiah 9:6

He wanted to spend some time focusing on the name “Wonderful Counselor.”  We attend CentriKid because we love kids and want to minister to them to see them grow in the Lord.  If we work with kids, wouldn’t we want to be a wonderful counselor or even a pretty good counselor?  He had us focus on Luke 24:13-33 to help us know what made Jesus a wonderful counselor and how we could use some of those traits to be a better counselors to the kids we minister to.

In this section of verses, we have two of Jesus’ followers walking to Emmaus.  They had been in Jerusalem and had seen all of the tragedy surrounding Jesus’ death.  These two guys had listened to Jesus’ teaching and understood that He was their Messiah, the one that was going to bring order to their fallen world.  All of their hope was in Him.  They were crushed as they watched Jesus being mocked, beaten beyond recognition, being hung on a cross, before finally being placed behind the stone.  They were in much pain after losing the source of their hope and joy.  They were in a dark place and had no answers as what to do next.

Their only reaction was to escape and to flee from the place that was the source of their pain.  We find these two disciples in Luke 24:13 on their way to Emmaus.  It’s only about seven miles away from Jerusalem, but it was far enough away that they could get away from the pain that loomed over Jerusalem.  Maybe in Emmaus the story of Jesus’ tragic death wouldn’t be on everyone’s lips.  Maybe they could get away for a few days, isolate themselves and try to bring some sense of normalcy back to their lives.

These two men were dealing with the same thing that a lot of kids at camp are feeling.  They have left a place of pain and have arrived at camp to experience escape.  Home for some of these kids is a place of low self-esteem; they don’t feel like they belong.  Others experience verbal, emotional, physical, or sexual abuse in their homes.  For some, home is where momma and daddy fight or are too busy and they feel unwanted.  The list can go on and on, but unfortunately some kids see home as a place of pain and desire an escape.

There are many forms of escape (some good, some bad), but the fortunate ones can experience that escape at camp.  At camp they are loved and people pay attention to them.  They can go to bed at night and not worry about their safety.  They can wake up in the morning and not worry about the next meal.  At camp they are equal to those around them and they feel like they belong.  For one week, camp is a place of escape.

Pastor James gave us six points from this section of verses in Luke to help us be wonderful counselors to these kids and continue to provide an escape for them even when they return home.

  1.  Walk where our students walk – As we see in verse 15, Jesus appeared to these two distraught disciples.  He did not reveal himself to them at first.  He physically placed himself alongside them so he was in a position to minister to them.  We can’t be beside all the kids in our student ministry at all times.  We might be overstepping our bounds to enter some of our kid’s homes, but we can be there for them at church or other events.  Through loving them, we can let them know that we are there for them if they need us.  Most importantly, we can connect to them emotionally so we can understand “where they are walking.”
  2. Listen before we speak – In verse 19, we see some of Jesus’ “wonderful counselor” skills in action.  He doesn’t immediately walk up, quote scripture telling them everything will be OK and send them on their way.  Jesus asks them, “What things?”  He inquires about why they are hurting.  He already knew the answer to the question, but He knew the importance of listening to them.  As ministers to students, we should do more listening than talking.  We need to hear the pain and confusion before we try to usher in the healing.
  3. Use Scripture to meet them at their point of need – In verse 27, we see Jesus quoting Scripture and explaining why all these things had to happen for His glory.  This should be a reminder to us about the importance of being in God’s Word and memorizing Scripture.  How can we minister as Jesus did if we can’t use our Scripture effectively?  We need to study our Bible and be able to find Scripture that will meet our kids at their point of need.  We need to be in tune with our Holy God to the point that He can direct us to the correct Scripture when needed.
  4. Allow them to set the timetable – In verse 29, we see these disciples asking Jesus to spend more time with them.  How awesome is it when your kids want to spend more time with you?  How awesome would it be if they wanted you to read more of the Bible to them or explain more of the Scripture to them?  Sometimes we find ourselves hemmed in by a schedule.  Sometimes we think that a Bible story has to stop when the bell rings or when it’s bed time.  We all know that kids don’t follow schedules very well.  If a child is engaged in the Word of God then we need to set aside anything we have going on and make that moment our highest priority.  We need to find those “teachable moments” throughout our day to make the Scriptures real in our kids’ lives.
  5. Always reveal Jesus – In verse 31, we see that Jesus opened their eyes and they discovered that they were talking to Jesus!  He didn’t skirt around the “Jesus” discussion.  He made the discussion all about Jesus.  How many times have we invested time in the lives of our kids at church by teaching them in Sunday School, providing for material needs that they might have and joking around with them to make them smile, but we don’t know where they stand spiritually with Jesus.  We need to reveal Jesus to our kids in every situation.  We need to discuss Jesus with them.  They need to hear us talking about our relationship with Jesus.  They need to see us studying the Bible.  If we are just someone that takes care of their needs or someone that makes them smile, but we don’t know where they stand with Jesus, then we have failed them.
  6. Equip and send – We see in verse 33, that after their encounter with Jesus, the disciples immediately left the place where they had fled (Emmaus) to return to the place of pain (Jerusalem) to make a difference.  Jesus had restored them and equipped them with knowledge to return to the place of pain with good news of joy.  This news would ultimately restore the hope of Jesus’ followers and give them the confidence to change the world.  The place of pain was transformed into a launching point to usher in the Kingdom of God.  As counselors, we are to do the same with the kids in our mission field.  We are to equip them with the knowledge and resources so they can return to their place of pain and make a difference.  Just think of the difference Jesus could make in some homes.  It won’t be easy, but knowing that Jesus is with us and will never leave us equips us to leave the mountain top of camp and return to the valley.

I hope I was able to relay Pastor James’ thoughts in a way that is as meaningful to you as it was to me when I first heard him speak it.  These six points have certainly opened my eyes to my ministry here at Fredonia.  I’m involved in just about every aspect of our Children’s Ministry in one way or another because of my kids’ involvement.  I hope I can take these six points and improve on how I minister to the kids I come in contact with.  I know I will never achieve the status of “wonderful counselor”, but maybe I can be a “pretty good counselor.”



Day 5: CentriKid 2013 is a wrap!

IMPORTANT: We will have our share time Sunday night at 6:30 and will have a meal and fireworks show afterwards.  All CentriKid campers need to wear their red CentriKid shirt for share time.  Come out and join us for a great time of fellowship!

We woke up to another wet and rainy day this morning.  We were instructed to eat breakfast and have our bags ready to be loaded onto the trailer by 7:45 AM.  The most difficult part about packing was trying to figure out what to do with all the wet clothes and towels.  Because of the rain the last two days, most of us had more wet clothes than dry.  The boy’s rooms were so humid for some reason that nothing would dry hanging inside.  Hanging the clothes on the rail outside to dry was an option, but not a very good one since boys like to prank and unguarded clothing can make for some great entertainment.  That being the case, I encourage all moms to stop reading this right now and quickly inspect your child’s suitcase for whatever might be starting to ferment.  I walked into a few rooms and I can guarantee that some fermentation started midday on Thursday.  Please return to finish reading this blog once you have adequately detoxed your hands.  I always pride myself with trying to pack light, but next year I will pack a few more clothes just in case rain comes our way again.  I will also bring a poncho, umbrella, change of shoes and waterproof camera.

The kids had to be at “the spot” at 8:30.  It started pouring down raining at 8:20 which put a damper on the kids making the trek across campus to the auditorium.  Fortunately, the rain broke at 8:35 and we were able to quickly make our way down the hill.  The kids left the auditorium to meet with their Bible Study group one last time before heading home.  While the kids were in small group, the adults were entertained with what the staffers refer to as “The Lost and Found Show.”  They held up the various items that have not been claimed from Lost and Found throughout the week while giving some really humorous commentary about each item.  It was like watching a Saturday Night Live skit of a QVC show.  They held up wet socks (no matching pairs by the way), wet towels, backpacks and other interesting items.

When the kids returned from Bible Study, we kicked off Closing Celebration with praise and worship music and the Foot Praise performance track.  We had several kids participating in the Foot Praise track.  Foot Praise is a track where the kids learn a dance routine throughout the week and perform it on stage the last day.  The other performance tracks performed last night during Worship.   We had several kids show off their skills in the Drama and Sign Language tracks last night.  I always look forward to the Sign Language track.  Last night they performed “10,000 Reasons” by Matt Redman.  There is something very worshipful watching these kids worship vocally and in sign.  It’s really awesome and both tracks did a great job contributing to last night’s worship.

Our astronaut host for the week, Magellan from the planet Calrissian, was able to finally repair his spaceship and gave us the sad news that we had to depart from planet CentriKid.  Before giving him one last Calrissian Salute, he informed us that we collected almost $2,400 for our mission offering this week!  Magellan said his goodbyes and then Pastor James took the stage one last time to summarize the message for the week.  He explained that on Tuesday we learned about the power of God the Father, on Wednesday we focused on Jesus’ call for our lives and followed up yesterday by learning about the omnipresence of the Holy Spirit.  He reviewed what we talked about this week; how all three work together to carry out the promises of God and they want to include you in their work.  He shared another “out of this world…BOOM” idea with us.  He reminded us that this beautiful world we live in was created in just six days.  When Jesus ascended to Heaven, He went to prepare us a place to spend eternity.  He’s been working on it for over 2000 years.  If He created all the majesty of our planet and universe in just six days, imagine what Heaven will look like after 2000 years of preparation.  Awesome thought.  He shared the Great Commission with us and encouraged us to return home and share Jesus and what we learned at camp with those back at home.

After we were dismissed, the CentriKid staffers spread out and the kids had a chance to get autographs and say goodbyes to these great young adults that have invested in their lives this week.  It’s always sad to say goodbye to these staffers that you’ve grown close to over the week.  However, we couldn’t hang around for long because just a few hours later (around lunch), another group of CentriKid campers would arrive for an abbreviated weekend of CentriKid; lots of work to do and very little time to prepare.  It amazes me that they are able to get ready so quickly for the next group of kids.

The tradition of getting a group picture of our kids sitting on the Shocco Springs sign was just not meant to be this year.  Because of the rainy weather, we had to pose for our last group picture on stage in the auditorium.  After that, everyone loaded up and we headed west!  We stopped at Chik-fil-a for lunch.  I’ve got to say once again that the service at the Leeds, AL. Chik-fil-a is impeccable.  When we pulled up, there was already a church group there being served and our group of 52 just added to the chaos.  The staff quickly moved us through the line and within 15 minutes all of us were sitting down eating.  Those guys have it going on!  (We also found out that they would donate a percentage of our purchase to the CentriKid missions offering…wow.)  We arrived back at Fredonia around 4:00 PM and were greeted by family and friends.  CentriKid 2013 is a wrap!

I’d like to take a moment to personally thank Jeff High for all the work that he has put into preparing for CentriKid this year.  It is a very time consuming task and he paid attention to every detail, big and small.  All 34 of our campers had the time of their life this week because of his love and preparation.  His passion for making this a memorable and life changing experience for these kids is obvious.  I appreciate all you do and can’t wait to help you prepare for CentriKid 2014.  It’s going to be awesome.

Another special thank you goes out to everyone that donated resources and time to make this trip possible. Our church pulled together to not just cover the cost of the trip, but went above and beyond to provide extras like pizza two nights, OMC shirts for those that didn’t have one and other little needs that were taken care of that no one will ever know about.  For this one week, no one was in need of anything thanks to the loving generosity and support of our Fredonia family.

I’d also like to take a moment to thank our Fredonia CentriKid staffer for the week, Morgan (aka Megan).  She did an amazing job connecting with our kids and counseling the ones that needed to talk.  She took time away from what little downtime she had to invest it in the lives of our kids.  Every time I turned around I saw Morgan sitting at the lunch table with one of our kids or walking around campus with one of them.  She told us over and over again how much we meant to her and how we have truly impacted her life this week, but words can’t really sufficiently express the impact she had on the hearts of our kids.  It still amazes me how God is working in this group of young people that He assembled as staffers this year.  All of them did a fantastic job.

Centri2013_39Ken and JJ performing Foot Praise routine during worship.

Centri2013_40Hunter getting his shirt signed by the CentriKid staffers.

Centri2013_41Jeff finally slowed down enough to let me get a picture of him and Spencer.

Centri2013_42This is a great group of kids.  They represented our church well!


Day 4 (very late): Last night at camp.

Tonight in worship, Pastor James told us about NASA sending a rover to Mars and how years and years of work by some of the world’s best engineers resulted in a successful landing on the Red Planet.  After all the system checks were complete the time came for the highly anticipated first message from the  rover thousands of miles away.  The message that popped up on the screen that made a mission control room explode with cheering: “I’m good.”  That’s right, those clever nerds (and I say that with the utmost respect) at NASA programmed the multi-billion dollar project to report back “I’m good.”

Pastor James contrasted the Mars Rover mission to how God planned a “manned mission to Earth.”  The two-word message that Jesus shares with us in Matthew 4:18-20 has a little more impact than NASA’s message.  Jesus instructed his future disciples by stating his two-word message, “follow me.”  The pastor pointed out that He didn’t say “memorize this” or “be able to explain this.”  Many people find contentment by pursuing only small pieces of what Jesus expects of us as Christians.

Pastor James pointed out the following about Jesus’ two-word message:

  1. His message was clear and simple. (verse 19)
  2. His message was directed to a specific person (verse 18)
  3. His message was to be acted on immediately (verse 20)

He presented the Gospel using another great object lesson.  He held up a cluster of grapes.  He talked about how we make excuses during our childhood about not being ready to become a Christian and how we continue to make excuses as a teenager, college student, young professional and even as a senior citizen.  As he talked about the different stages of life we transition through he continued to pull grapes off the stem.  When he finished there were only a couple of grapes remaining.  The grapes represented our life and he pointed out that the longer we put off following Jesus the less of our life that we have to give to Jesus.  Do we want to honor Jesus by giving him a full life for Him to use or do we want to leave Him with an empty stem?  Jesus can use whatever we give Him, but what is He worthy of?

He also discussed how each of the twelve disciples had such different personalities and came from such different backgrounds that sometimes clashed.  He pointed out that God chooses people that have nothing in common to work together.  We can find that in our own church.

An invitation was offered and Pastor James made a statement that has really stuck with me and I’m sure it had an impact on others in the room.  He said, “The original Mars rover mission was a discovery mission.  God’s mission is a rescue mission.”  Now that was an “out of this world” (BOOM) idea.

We went back to our tight (meaning small, not cool) room for our church small group time.  The adults had to “prime the pump” a bit by sharing a few things that were our hearts, but it didn’t take long for the kids to speak up about what has been on their hearts this week.  We don’t expect a lot of talking from this group of somewhat reserved kids (that probably made some of you chuckle), but they surprised us tonight by speaking up and making some profound statements.  A few of the kids wanted to talk one-on-one with an adult.  A lot was shared and I hope no one left with anything still on their heart.  We had another exciting moment tonight when Rebecca came in with a couple of adults to let us know that she had been saved tonight.  The angels are working on their fourth chorus of the week!

Bro. Chris spoke about a few of the things we can do to make this “camp high” something more sustainable.  He gave us four points to help us:

  1. Stay in church; fellowship with other believers (James 10:24-25)
  2. Find an accountability partner.  Someone you can share your sins with.  When sins are brought into the light, they lose their power.  (James 5:18)
  3. Write a journal when we get home of our camp experiences and what we learned so we can reflect on the ‘mountain top’ experiences when we are in the ‘valley.’
  4. Be aware of the poisons in our life; those things that cause us to lose our fire for Christ.

We then continued another Fredonia tradition.  We honored our sixth graders with a little graduation ceremony by presenting them with Bibles.  Our sixth graders that will be moving up to youth are: Kevin Moody, Hunter Gammel, Chyann Wilson, Destiny Jackson and Ashley Forester.  We will certainly miss this great group of young Christians and can’t wait to see the impact they will continue to have in our church and on the world.

We dismissed with prayer and then feasted on pizza as we celebrated a great week of new births, firsts and lifetime memories.  Walking back to the dorm was a little less peaceful tonight.  There’s just something about the last night of camp that is full of a little sadness and much excitement.  Kids let loose as the play for the last time with friends that they have made or push the limits of their week of freedom one last time before they head home.  I saw kids (not Fredonia kids) running around squirting shaving cream, being loud and disruptive.  They were laughing and carrying on about the moment they were in right now.  I puffed up with a little pride thinking about how our kids were laughing, fellowshipping over pizza and carrying on just a few minutes earlier, but the smiles on our faces and the joy in our heart was from a week of lives being transformed and healed relationships.  These things are everlasting and are stored where rust and moth cannot touch them.

I’ll leave you with this thought for tonight.  I can’t claim it for my own because many people have shared similar thoughts throughout our week here at camp.  We have come together as a group of very diverse people this week (much like that group of disciples the preacher talked about).  We have taken the time to put away the distractions of jobs and commitments and focus totally on filling ourselves with Jesus this week.  This has resulted in healed relationships and spiritual renewal.  We have seen the body of Christ and our church family grow this week.  It is easy for these four new sisters in Christ to be shiny and new here at camp, but when they return home the world will attack.  They will be at war with their old selves and environment.  It is up to us as their brothers, sisters, mommas and daddies in Christ not only to circle the wagons of protection around them, but to nurture them into mature Disciples of Christ that can stand and fight for themselves.  We CAN NOT leave them to fend for themselves.  We MUST insert ourselves into their lives to be there for them when the evil one throws things their way, when the old self looks a whole lot easier to maintain than this complicated new and shiny self they chose in the sanctuary of camp.  Praying for these new creations is a start, but don’t stop there.  We must fight for them and be burdened for them daily as you would your biological sister or daughter.  We are a church ‘family.’

We will load the luggage at 7:45 in the morning and close out with Closing Celebration at 9:30 AM.  We will find out which team will win bragging rights for 2013!

Quote for today: Dillon says, “I didn’t even know there was an Orange Team.”  Hayes responds, “Yeah, that’s just something they came up with to make the adults feel young.”

Centri2013_32Yellow Team takes the field. Notice Breyden and Carley leading the way.

Centri2013_34Chyann survived her last year of OMC.

Centri2013_33These gals take this stuff seriously!

Centri2013_35Team Fredonia “after” picture.

Centri2013_36A great group of young people moving up to the Youth.

Centri2013_37Sisters in Christ.  See the family resemblance?  It’s the smiles.

Centri2013_38 The pizza was disappearing pretty fast. Stocking up seemed like a good option.


Day 4 (5:00 PM): Great and memorable day so far!

We’ve had a great day so far despite the rain.  I guess the rain just makes things a little more memorable.  We got up a little earlier than usual this morning so we could get a quick breakfast in order to be down at the “Fredonia OMC Salon” before it closed at 7:45 for quite time.  As usual the hair stylings were exceptional.  They would have made Jeff Slaughter proud.  Our stylists are great at using commercial products in ways not intended (or recommended) by the manufacturer.  Cups, pipe-cleaners, duct tape and other assorted craft materials were used to magically transform our sweet children into intimidating OMC warriors.

Fourth of July doesn’t go unobserved here at planet CentriKid.  While I was in the cafeteria we were led in the Pledge of Allegiance by an adult from another church.  After the Fredonia OMC Salon packed up, Jeff reminded us to think about our country, the soldiers serving now and our veterans.  We honored our resident veteran, Scott Hodges, by saluting him with the Calrissian Salute (aka the macarana I talked about earlier this week).  We had to do quite time in groups today because the kids quite time materials were soaking wet from yesterday’s rain.  If we had tried to unfold them they would have just fell apart.

We headed out to “I Can’t Wait…” in a slight drizzling rain.  Everyone was curious how the rain would affect the day’s events.  We had already gotten word that OMC had been moved up to 10:00 in order to try to beat some thunderstorms on the radar.  Our excellent CentriKid staffers had it all worked out to minimize the impact of the rain today.  They do such a great job of taking care of us!  Pastor James led us in the official CentriKid Birthday Song and Dance to honor today being America’s birthday.  Flags were displayed on the screens and the kids sang their heart out.

The pastor introduced us to today’s Bible study by asking if we have a friend that never seems to have a plan.  He talked about the game Simon Says and how sometimes Simon tells us to do things that we can’t do like touch the ceiling or tells us to do something that would hurt us (like poke yourself in the eye).  He reminded us that Jesus would never do that.  He would never ask us to do something He hasn’t equipped us to do or would never do anything that would cause ourselves harm.  The kids were then dismissed to prepare for OMC and the adults stayed in the auditorium to put on some last minute OMC war paint and prepare our Orange Team intimidation tactics….actually, we learned our team cheer (that just doesn’t sound as manly).  This year’s team was to the tune of “YMCA” by the Village People.  It was pretty lengthy, but surprisingly easy to remember.  Each team learns a cheer to chant before OMC starts.  They are usually pretty entertaining and set to the tune of a popular song that everyone knows.

We headed out to the recreations fields and waited until the kids arrived organized into groups by their team colors.  It always looks great to see all those bright colors coming down the hill like a parade.  I’ll have to say that Fredonia was the liveliest bunch while waiting for the kids to arrive, but there’s nothing new about that.  I’ve got pictures to document some of the antics, but I’m waiting to find out if the blackmail money is going to show up before releasing them to the public domain.

When everyone arrived, each of the teams ran through a human tunnel formed by Team Orange.  Some of them made it through the tunnel unscathed, but many came out the other end spotted with shaving cream.  Each team performed their cheers (all of which were both impressive and catchy) and then OMC was in full effect.  There were kids running around asking adults to perform all kinds of tasks like borrowing a shoe, dancing with them or jumping in the air.  Shaving cream and water balloons were flying as Christian music pumped over the PA system.  It was great!  I’ve got lots of pictures to document the carnage.  When it was all said and done Red Team prevailed as OMC champions for 2013.

We had very little time to get cleaned up, squeeze in some lunch and then it was off to track times.  The rain came and went several times so far today which has made a muddy mess in most places.  There are wet clothes hanging around the rooms and out on everyone’s balcony.  This rainy OMC day is a first for us at CentriKid, but it has certainly been fun and memorable.

We are glad to have a few extra folks with us today.  Kristen and Owen came to visit and Bro. Chris, Emily and Luke came over as well.


Day 4 (6:50 AM): Anticipating a great day ahead…

I’m pretty sure that folks that got a good night’s rest last night are in the minority around here this morning.  After Tuesday night and Wednesday night being as emotional as a typical “Thursday Night” at camp, the excitement has made it hard to end the day by laying my head down at a good time.  Nevertheless, the day still starts at 6:00 and God has plenty in store for today as well.

We woke up to rain this morning.  That’s going to make for a messy day, but as other adults have said around here, “if the kids were at home they would want to be playing outside in the July rain.”  Well, today they get to.  We’ve been told that OMC will continue outside as planned as long as the thunderstorms stay away.  That will be a first for Fredonia CentriKidders, OMC in the rain.  Sounds fun!

We will be eating a quick breakfast here in a minute so we can get our hair painted and war paint on for OMC before our quite time and “I Can’t Wait…” at 8:30 AM.  OMC will be this afternoon after 3:00.  OMC (Organized Mass Chaos) is a time where everyone gets dressed up in team colors and compete against each other by completing different task cards like borrowing someone’s shoe, grabbing two or three people for a dance party or doing 20 jumping jacks.  Each task that they complete adds up points for their team.  Of coarse, there is always plenty of shaving cream, water and other messy stuff.  Fredonia usually doubles the shaving cream content of the games!

Please pray for us today as we face this rainy day.  Some are tired from a week of activity and lack of sleep and need prayers of physical renewal.  Thursday is always an amazing day at camp.  We have lots of fun and get messy, but if you look past all of that you will see that it is also the culmination of all the Bible points that have been made this week.  The Gospel will become real to a lot of kids tonight.  The Spirit has been moving this week already and the rain can’t stop Him.


Day 3 (11:50 PM): The Fredonia family is growing…

Tonight in worship, Pastor James continued today’s theme by talking about the Holy Spirit.  He described how the same God that appeared to the Israelites as a pillar of fire by night and a cloud by day in the Old Testament is the same God that appeared to the disciples at Pentecost in Acts 2:1.  He went on to share the story of Elijah from 1 Kings 19, to show that God is capable of speaking to us through fire from heaven or a strong wind, but he can also choose to speak to us through a gentle whisper.  He used a rope to explain how the Holy Spirit can have a gentle pulling on our lives.

He continued in John 16 showing how we can know that the Holy Spirit is working in us:

  1. The Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin (John 16:8).
  2. The Holy Spirit explains God’s truths in ways that we can understand (John 16:13).
  3. The Holy Spirit leads us to glorify God with our lives by pointing everything we do back to Him in every circumstance (John 16:14).

He reminded us of God’s promise that He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).  He used an incredible demonstration using his set of keys and a volunteer from the audience.  It’s one of those object lessons that would never have the same impact if I tried to describe it to you so I won’t.  I’d love to show it to you sometime though.  God was certainly moving during the invitation time.  Hearts were being changed.

We left worship and headed to our small group church time.  Several people shared about how God has worked in their lives this week at camp and how God has started working on them even before camp.  It never ceases to amaze me how perfect God’s timing is.  We weren’t in the room very long before we had our first “out of this world” moment of the night (you’ll only get that reference if you are actually here at camp this week – BAM).  The door opened up and in walks Swayze Browning with a big smile on her face letting us know that she was saved tonight.  We have another sister in Christ in the Fredonia family.  I can’t describe the cheers, hugs and tears that were expressed after her announcement, but it could only be surpassed by the rejoicing that the angels are doing right now because a lost sheep has been found.  Not much time passed before Todd spoke up to let us know that Taylor had something to announce too.  Taylor had professed Jesus as Lord and Savior of her life some time ago, but she realized tonight that what she had wasn’t real.  She knew something was missing in her life and tonight she excitedly announced that she had surrendered her life to Jesus.  I hope the angels have several stanzas to their chorus because a lot of rejoicing is going on in Heaven tonight.  Again cheers filled the room, tears of joy were shed and hugs ensued.  It was a great night already, but that wasn’t the end of what God had in store for us tonight.  We continued to share about how God has touched each of our lives this week.  Some have been filled to the brim by setting aside a week away from distractions to focus on God, others have made a deeper evaluation of where they stand in their relationship with God and others have renewed friendships that have been damaged over time.  God is working in this group this week.

There are a couple of things that I have to close out tonight’s blog by saying.  First off, everyone back home can rest assured that Fredonia has been represented well this week.  We have a great group of kids that know how to behave when they are away from home.  They know the difference between when it’s time to have fun and when it’s time to get serious to worship.  We received a compliment tonight from a camp staffer about how our kids enter worship in a reverent manner and that stood out because that can’t be said for all the churches here.  These are great kids and represent Fredonia well.

Secondly, God has put something on my heart this week that I’m sure I’ll share again during Sunday night share time, but I shared it tonight and I’ll share it here.  Today during our adult gathering station time, one of the stations helped me focus on the body of Christ and how each one of us contributes to that body with our gifts and talents.  All of us have been placed at Fredonia because we have something specific to bring to the table that God has enabled us to do.  Not only that, we are a family.  I realized the impact of that last night we I typed that Ashley was my new sister in Christ.  When I think of this body of Christ as a family I try to relate it to my own family.  I’d like to think that if one of my sons was hurting that I would hurt with them.  If one of my sons were afraid, I’d be there to comfort them.  If one of my sons wasn’t saved then my heart would be burdened until they came to know Christ.  Do we take this body of Christ concept seriously?  Do we hurt for those that are in our Sunday School class that hurt.  Do we comfort those that sit on the pew with us when they are afraid or struggling?  Do we take the time to get to know the person across the church from us to find out what’s going on in their life?  Do we burden ourselves to the point that we will do everything in our power to bring one of the lost souls in our church and community to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ?  I say all of this on the heels of VBS.  That was an amazing time where we saw the body of Christ come together for one week to do amazing things.  Let me remind you of the quote Bro. Chris mentioned from Facebook where a little boy asked his brother “What is VBS?” and the brother replied, “You know, it’s like church but the adults put effort into it.”  We have an amazing church, filled with amazing people that have amazing talents that God has given them.  I know that we are in a position to do amazing things for the Kingdom of God if we are only obedient.  I’m excited for the future of Fredonia.  Pray for your new sisters in Christ: Swayze, Taylor and Ashley.  Pray for our church and pray for those kids that have to leave camp and go back to a less than perfect home.

Centri2013_26Happy “Birthday” Taylor! You are a new creation in Christ.

Centri2013_27I’ve learned that girls hunt boys in packs. I’ve see this behavior on Animal Planet

Centri2013_28Chandler is having a blast.  So glad he could come with us again this year.

Centri2013_29Rebecca with her new friends.

Centri2013_30Kevin waiting on worship to start.

Centri2013_31Little did Swayze know this morning that the angels would be rejoicing for her before the day ended.


Day 3 (5:00 PM): Not gonna rain on this parade…

Spirits were high this morning.  I don’t know if our bodies have adjusted to the sleep deprivation or if it’s the excitement of our new sister in Christ from last night carrying over into this morning.  Either way, it has been a great morning.  Breakfast was great as usual, although some chose to eat ice cream for breakfast.  At least it’s a milk product.

We had our quite time in small groups then headed to the auditorium to get our Jesus cardio with “I Can’t Wait…”.  One of the best parts of I Can’t Wait is seeing the latest video from our friend, Peach.  Peach (person wearing a crazy peach outfit that looks more like a lemon) does some crazy stuff.  He makes chaos and disaster a laughing matter.  The whole room is usually rolling with laughter after watching Peach.

Today our small group quite time and the kid’s emphasis for today focuses on the Holy Spirit.  Pastor James explained that when Jesus walked the Earth, he was never in more than one place at a time.  That was a limitation of his physical body.  The trinity makes it possible for God to fulfill His promises of never leaving us and always dwelling with us.  People all over the world have needs at the exact same time and the Holy Spirit is always present to meet those needs no matter how many people need Him or where the need is.  Pastor James also made us take another oath (remember the one from Day 1 about the correct pronunciation of Revelation).  He had us pledge to NEVER refer to the Holy Spirit as an “it” and to always refer to the Holy Spirit as “He.”  He seemed very adamant about both of these oaths we’ve taken.

The kids headed out to their small group Bible study with their CentriKid staffer and the adults stayed for Adult Gathering.  Pastor James explained that the kids would be learning more about the Holy Spirit today and how God led the Israelites with a pillar of fire and a cloud.  Both of these offered protection and guidance for the Israelites as they travelled.  The Holy Spirit does the same thing for us today.  The kids will spend today learning how the Holy Spirit uses prayer, God’s Word, parents and teachers to direct their path in life.  Once he was finished, the adults had adult worship.  Wednesday of camp is usually “station day.”  The adults randomly move around the room to five different stations that have been set up with cards to read that help you analyze your walk with Christ.  Some stations have objects to help you experience what is being taught. Today’s stations focused on recognizing our talents, surrendering our talents and life to God and recognizing the authority of God.  It’s always a great time of self-reflection.

We met for lunch and then off to Track times.  We had prayed for the rain to stay away, but God had other plans for us today.  I know “Plan B (or C)” is something that the CentriKid team has in their back pocket for events such as this, but nobody could ever prepare sufficiently for what to do with 800 soaking wet kids.  We all ended up in the auditorium playing “rainy day” games.  Things were a little chaotic at first, but quickly fell into place.  The CentriKid staffers did an amazing job of shuffling around the schedule and getting everyone into a dry spot and having a good time.  I’ve got to hand it to this group of teenagers and twenty-somethings.  They are great at their job, love our kids and love serving the Lord.

Now we are watching the sky to see what is in store weather-wise for the rest of today and tomorrow.  I’m sure schedules and attitudes will need to be flexible over the next day or so.  I’m excited about worship ahead at 7:00 PM.  Good things are in store!

Centri2013_20Working on this morning’s quite time devotion.

Centri2013_21Wrapping up recreation time.

Centri2013_22Crazy boys having a great time at CentriKid!

Centri2013_23Flamingos stand on one leg, Carley stands on one arm…

Centri2013_24Sophie and Ashley are a little water logged, but still having fun.

Centri2013_25Anna Beth and Carley showing those hamstrings who’s boss.


Day 2 (11:55 PM): Happy Birthday Ashley

(There is SO much I want to say about this day, but even though this will be an extremely long blog it will be abbreviated from what I had hoped it could be.  Lots to tell on the first full day of camp.)

Two words to sum up today, busy and awesome.  First on the agenda this morning was breakfast at 7:15 AM.  Of course, there was a lot of preparation that led up to the first event of the day like trying to rouse kids that stayed up WAY TOO late on the first night of camp, color coordinating the boys so they wouldn’t embarrass the family and reminding them to get out the door with shoes, Bible, backpack, water bottle and name tag.  The lack of sleep initially resulted in a few bad attitudes, but by the time the chicken tenderloin, powdered eggs and biscuits were consumed, all was good.  Everyone was happy and ready for the first full day of camp.

Immediately after breakfast, we broke up into our quite time groups.  This is a time for the kids to gather together in small groups to study a daily devotion that prepares them for what they will be learning through recreation and Bible study the rest of the day.  Today we focused on God’s creation and how we can know God just by looking around at the amazing world He created.  And to top it off, He loves us most out of all creation! (Psalms 19:1-8)

After quite time we headed to “I Can’t Wait” at 8:30.  It’s hard to explain this event if you’ve never experienced it, but the best way I can describe it is… it’s a cardio workout focused on Jesus.  It’s a great opportunity to wake up by worshiping, dancing and playing games.  Ashley Forester was called up on stage to play a game.  She did well, but came up short in the end.  I’m pretty sure the other people cheated (not really)!  Camp Pastor James gave us an introduction to what the kids would be learning about throughout the day.  He discussed how the Old Testament tabernacle was basically a tent.  This was the dwelling place of God.  The fact that it was a tent meant that it could travel with the people.   Where the people went, God’s presence went also.  It’s the same today as it was in Old Testament times.  God’s presence is always with us because He dwells inside us.  He summed it up by saying….”life with Jesus is in-tents”….get it? (intense)  The kids dismissed to Bible Study and the adults remained in the auditorium for adult gathering.

The adult gathering is one of my two favorite parts of camp (the other is church small group time at night).  Adult gathering is a time for the adults to be ministered to through a time of worship and message.  Today’s message was outstanding.  Pastor James focused on a name we have for Jesus, “Wonderful Counselor” (Luke 24:13).  He continued by using Jesus’ encounter with the disciples on the walk to Emmaus to describe to us six traits that make Jesus a “wonderful counselor” and how we could use those traits to be wonderful counselors to our kids here at camp and back home.  It was SO good.  I’ve got extensive notes and may just have to blog about that when it’s not approaching midnight.  Great stuff.

After we finished up, we met the kids returning from recreation and ate lunch at 11:15.  After lunch the kids headed out to their tracks.  This year each kid participates in three tracks.  There are a wide variety of tracks ranging from Art Studio, Kitchen Chaos, Sign Language to some outdoor tracks like Basketball, Flag Football, Archery, and many, many more.  The kids did a lot of walking to and from tracks, but it looked like they were having a great time…well, they smiled when I took pictures of them anyway.  They came back from their last track at 3:15 and finished off with another Bible Study where their Bible Study staffer tied all the day’s events together to recap the central message of the day.  After Bible Study we had The Party at 3:50.  The Part is a time for the 3rd graders (Yellow team),  4th graders (Green team), 5th graders (Blue team) and 6th graders (Red team) to compete against each other in on-stage games and earn points for their team’s weekly overall point total.  They also earn team points during the morning recreation time.  At the end of the week, the points are tallied and the team with the most points wins.  They are awarded bragging rights for 365 days.

Today was our day to go to the lake during Hang Time.  Hang Time is pretty much the only hour and fifteen minutes that the kids don’t have to be somewhere.  The rest of the week I’m sure the kids will use Hang Time to spend all of their money in the gift shop and snack shop, but today we filled the time in the lake.  Most of the kids and several adults got in.  The lake has lots of inflatables to climb and jump on.  There is certainly plenty to do while you’re in the water.  It feels like the longest 30 minutes of your life!  I would talk more about this too, but I’m using too many bytes in this blog already.

We ate supper and were back to the auditorium for evening worship at 7:00 PM.  Evening worship is different from the rest of the day.  The staffers ask the kids to enter the auditorium quietly and reverently.  It’s handled much like a church service.  The worship time is great and the kids can feel free to worship however they want.  After prayer and singing, Pastor James delivered a great presentation of the Gospel.  He started out by explaining how some people’s names have meanings.  He went on to explain that Jesus means “God will save us” and that Immanuel means “God with us.”  He talked about how Jesus can’t be ‘with’ us unless He saves us and cleanses us from our sin.  Our sinful nature cannot enter the presence of God and Colossians 1:21 states that we are born with a sinful nature that alienates us from God.  He used a great illustration of getting ketchup on his white Sunday shirt and how his mom wouldn’t let him enter God’s house wearing a stained shirt.  He couldn’t enter the presence of God because he was stained.  However, verse 22 turns the bad news into good news.  He took off the ketchup stained shirt and replaced it with a spotless shirt.  He demonstrated how Jesus removes those stains from our life (sins) which allows God to dwell with us.  The plan of salvation was presented and people responded.

We left the auditorium for our church small group time.  Jeff started off the conversation and Morgan (aka Megan), our CentriKid staffer for the week, shared her testimony.  (She does a great job and has really made an effort to connect with our kids.)  We talked for a while and then the best news of the week explodes through the door.  In walks Ashley Forester with a big smile on her face letting us know that she had been saved.  Praise the Lord!  I don’t know all the details, but I know God moved in her heart, a couple of our ladies were there to minister to her and God removed the stain from her heart.  The day’s lesson is now real in Ashley’s life, Jesus dwells in her heart.  Pray for Ashley as she starts her walk with Jesus.

Usually Thursday night of camp is when we hit this “camp high.”  It’s usually the night that all the tears flow and excitement wells up, but it’s just Tuesday.  I can’t imagine what God has in store for the rest of the week.  There are over 1000 souls here at Shocco Springs this week.  Some need Jesus to come dwell in their hearts like Ashley and some just need to make more room in their hearts for Jesus.  God is at work here this week!

Centri2013_14Ashley participating in an on-stage game during I Can’t Wait

Centri2013_15Madison and Konner learning mad skills

Centri2013_16Peyton watching the ball in baseball track

Centri2013_17Morgan, our CentriKid staffer on the Left.  Unidentified female on the right…her name might be Megan.

Centri2013_18Chris showing these “young whipper snappers” how it’s done.

Centri2013_19Happy Birthday Ashley!

Day 1 (11:30 PM): Getting in the camp groove…

We finally got all settled in our rooms and made important decisions like who gets to sleep close to the AC and who gets to use what outlet to charge their electronics.  Some decisions required arbitration, but fortunately no tears were shed.  Our assigned supper time is 5:45.  I’m afraid the cafeteria peaked too early.  They served chicken strips tonight (the staple of every kid’s diet under the age of 15).  Hopefully, they will surprise us with tomorrow’s menu, but they set the bar pretty high tonight.

We attended Opening Ceremony at 7:00 PM.  We continued the tradition of Fredonia claiming the front rows on opening night.  We were welcomed into the worship auditorium with flashing lights, loud music and high fives from camp staffers.  The excitement was great!  It was a great way to let the 3rd graders (newbies) know that they could let loose and worship however they felt led.  We were introduced to our host for the week, a marooned astronaut from the planet Calrissian (inspired by the Star Wars namesake I presume).  Instead of clapping, he welcomed us to interact with him with the Calrissian Salute (which, for anyone born before 1985  it would be referred to as the Macarana…maybe it’s making a comeback).  We watched several videos that taught us some of the CentriKid Camp rules and how we could prevent catching the “Space Crazy.”

We were introduced to the mission emphasis for the week.  Our offerings this week will go towards one North American mission, Graffiti 2 Community Ministries in New York, and one international mission, East Asia.  We will learn more about these ministries as the week progresses.

Our camp pastor, James Jackson, was a great speaker.  I believe the kids are really going to connect with him.  The scripture for the week is Revelation 21:3 to go along with this week’s theme, “Out of this world.”  Pastor James discussed how the creator of the universe wants to dwell with us.  You can look around and marvel at His great creation, the tall Red Woods of California, the highest mountains, the deepest oceans, and the vast universe, but out of all creation Genesis tells us that we are His special creation.  He used a passage in John to explain why we are here this week.  The games, the loud music, the drama and the preaching are all to point us to Him.  (He also encouraged us to rid the world of the incorrect pronunciation of Revelation…it’s not RevelationS.)

The kids were dismissed to meet with their Bible Study leaders and the adults stayed in the auditorium to get filled in on some important adult stuff.  After the kids returned, everyone was dismissed and we went to the Bazooka Ball area.  We sat around the fire pit (no fire) and filled out all the track times for each of the kids until it was time to play Bazooka Ball.  The kids divided into teams and had a blast battling each other.  Bazooka Ball is kind of like paint ball, but the balls are large foam balls.  They shoot really well, but they don’t hurt when you get hit.  It was a great time and everyone had a blast!  Can’t wait to see what tomorrow has in store.

Centri2013_8Austin and the band leading us in worship.

Centri2013_9Camp pastor, James Jackson

Centri2013_10Filling out tracks around the fire pit.  We learned that phone lights come in real handy in situations such as these.

Centri2013_11Skylar has obviously seen Mr. Jeff too excited about shooting things.

Centri2013_12Everybody better watch out, Sophie brought her purse for ammo!

Centri2013_13She’s on a mission…I blame it on the video games.


Day 1 (4:00 PM): The trip over…

Fredonia has arrived!  I can’t say it wasn’t without a little adventure.  We started the dreary morning by arriving at the church at 8:00 AM (some a little later).  We posed for the traditional group photo in front of the church bus and stopped for a devotion before heading out.  Bro. Chris led us by reading scripture from Psalms 121.  We prayed, said our final good-byes to family and friends then headed East.  We were well in to our last half of The Lion King on the bus television when we received a call informing us that the trailer, carrying all of our luggage, had broken down.  We were told that the wheel bearing had gone out and it wasn’t going to make it another mile.  Plan B was then put in to full effect (sometimes you don’t even know Plan B exists until it’s enacted).  The luggage was transported via truck to the bus and van.  Kids were reallocated between operational vehicles.  Everything fell into place!  Some of the men went after the parts needed to repair the trailer and after a brief tour of rural Alabama (and viewing the world record striped bass…seriously this is Alabama) they had what they needed and were headed towards camp with a repaired trailer.  I stand amazed at the fact that God allowed men with the talents and tools to replace a wheeling bearing on the side of the road to make this trip.  Awesome.  We stopped in Leeds, Alabama for Chik-fil-a.  Those folks got it going on.  They served our group of 52 without missing a beat (and with a smile).  We arrived at camp and the kids were greeted with the excitement of screaming camp counselors.  They played a few games, got shirted up, took the official “Camp Group Picture” and now we are settling into our rooms.  Next on the list….supper at 5:45 and Opening Celebration at 7:00.  We had a few bumps in the road today, but great things are ahead this week for this group of 34 kids and 18 adults.  Keep us in your prayers as God will work like never before here at CentriKid 2013!

Centri2013_1Loading up trailer (somebody check that bearing…)

Centri2013_2Psalm 121 – “The Traveler’s Psalm”

Centri2013_3I have to catch these three when they’re not looking….

Centri2013_4Eat mor chikn

Centri2013_5Being welcomed by our counselors…this guy was here last year

Centri2013_6I’ve heard of “sword drills,” but this version has a twist…go Konner

Centri2013_7We knew going into this that the guy’s rooms didn’t work out quite like we had hoped.  We found out once we got here that neither did the girl’s arrangements.  Jeff held a little pow-wow to get it worked out.  All is good.

Prelude to the trip…

My name is Drew (most of you already know that) and I have been given the task of documenting our time at CentriKid through this daily blog.  I hope to make this something that is extremely fun and informative for everyone reading it.  My goal is to capture the atmosphere of camp through pictures and text.  Some things have to be experienced first hand to get the full effect, but I will do what I can to bring the camp experience to you through the miracle of the Internet.  If you are not entertained or informed through what I have to say, maybe you can pass the time by finding my grammatical and spelling errors.  I’m sure there will be plenty since most of this will be updated while running from one event to another or late at night after an exhausting day.

There are a few things that you need to be aware of:

  • Instagram photo feed – if you notice at the top of this page you will see a camera icon.  If you click on that it will direct you to a new page to display photos that were taken by various Fredonia adults at camp.
  • Facebook – believe it or not, not everyone in the world has Facebook.  That being the case, I decided to do this blog via the website.  However, each time I update the blog I will post a link to the Fredonia Facebook wall so you can easily access the update.
  • Blog Updates – I hope to update the blog several times a day, but if you’ve ever been to camp then you know that downtime can be a rarity.  I will commit to updating the blog at least once a day (time to be determined).

I hope that you enjoy reading about what’s going on and hopefully I won’t bore you to death.  Stay tuned for updates!