Ringgold, Louisiana. Before this summer, I never knew such a place existed. From most perspectives this 1,500- person town is not especially memorable. But Ringgold is special because it is the home to Southland Christian Ministries—a youth camp I had the privilege of counseling at for most of my summer break.
My usual summer plans are to go home to Wisconsin and work full-time. In the past I viewed camp ministry as an opportunity that was nice for those who could afford to do so. But when I couldn’t find a summer internship after months of searching, God opened my mind to other avenues.
While sipping my usual mid-flight cran-apple juice on my trip down south, I considered what awaited me in the Bayou State. Having never been to that part of the country, humidity, alligators, and Duck Dynasty were the expectations that filled my mind. I also was a little concerned about how many bugs I would have to share my cabin with (which, I soon discovered, was quite a few). But as for counseling—I really had no idea what to expect.
I soon learned that counseling meant a lot of things. It meant being responsible for a cabin full of girls around the clock. It meant cheering, “We’re the team that’s number one!” (Go Red!) an average of 15 times per day. It meant not screaming when a centipede fell on my bed so I wouldn’t disturb my campers. It meant making lifetime friends. And most importantly, it meant encouraging others in their walk with Christ.
My biggest fear going into the summer was that I was not qualified to counsel children and teens. After all, what did I have to offer?
Each week, my cabin was filled with girls who had so many needs. My heart ached for them. Often, the campers were going through situations that I had never experienced, and I had no clue what to say to them.
God taught me many lessons this summer, but perhaps the biggest lesson I learned is that I don’t have to have all the answers. Being the ultimate source of wisdom and knowledge is not my place—it’s God’s.
Over and over again throughout the summer I witnessed the incredible power of God to change not only my campers lives, but also my own. Although camp life was a lot of work, seeing God touch so many hearts each week made it all worth it.
Praise God for always giving us the grace to accomplish what He has called us to do. In our weakness, He is strong.