Robert Jones

Counselor / Cabin 21

This summer has already been so amazing! It started at staff training, getting to know all of my amazing co-workers! Not only did I get to see friendships being made, but seeing God work through the entire process was absolutely awesome. Then we started camps and that was when I really started to see God do work in really cool ways. 

During one of the camps I had a camper named Wyatt that was so awesome! He had already been saved and God was doing big things through him right off the bat. He told me about how he had led his sister to Christ in the back seat of his parent’s car on the way to church. Then there was one named Denver. Denver was so young and had already been on three mission trips to Africa! He talked to me about the mission trips and told me how he gives all the money he gets for Christmas and his birthday to his parents for the mission trips they go on! It was so awesome to see God doing big things through these campers. Not only did I see how God was working through the campers outside of camp but here at Lake Forest Ranch as well. I had a camper named Kaden and he had a lot going on at home but he did not want to talk to me about it. One night we had an invitation and Kaden came to the back in tears. We walked over to a bench and sat down and he just opened up to me about everything going on in his life and how God had been speaking to him all week. The next day we had a really long one-on-one just talking about his life and God. It was so cool getting to see God working through him that week, to sense the safeness and to give him the courage to open up. Then I had a camper named Reece. I could see that he was really paying attention during Pow Wow and during Bible study. One night at Pow Wow they gave an invitation and I had one camper come to the back and it was Reese. He told me he knew it was time and I asked him, “for what? “.  He told me he was ready to get off of the sinking Titanic and to get on the Ark. He was ready to have a relationship with God and wanted to ask Jesus into his heart. He did, and every time I saw him that night he was smiling and would tell me that he was so happy! These are just a few of the things that have made this summer so great!

Blake Reddoch

Counselor / Cabin 19

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The second half of the summer, beginning with student camp 3 was incredible! There was one moment that stands out in a huge way. The Father completely opened up a door for me to speak to the mom of one of my campers during student camp 4. I was actually calling to ask if her son could stay and be a student missionary for Camp Macon. MAJOR side note, that camper accepted Christ during student camp 4!! When I got on the phone and told her about this she was glad to hear it!  As we were talking she started telling me about some issues that she was struggling with in the house and some hurt she was feeling. I just asked her a simple question: “How is your relationship with Jesus?”  She immediately broke down crying. I will never forget this beautiful moment that was so unexpected. I remember the whole day I was so looking forward to this phone call and it was almost like I knew God was going to do something big! He came through just as He always does.  I started talking with her and prayed and asked the Holy Spirit to move and speak through me and, as I said a minute ago, He came through.

The Spirit moved and she got the truth from Jesus! She told me that her whole life she has been taught legalism and that she has to do certain things, but I was able to tell her that Jesus has given us freedom and we can live in the freedom of Christ! IT IS NOT ABOUT WHAT WE DO but it’s about what Christ has done! We have freedom. The Spirit of God shared this with her and she completely surrendered everything to Jesus that night on the phone. She found freedom in Christ! She completely abandoned everything that she was taught about LEGALISM and stepped into complete GRACE and FREEDOM! It was one of the most incredible moments that I have ever experienced in my life. It was so beautiful to see and I will never forget it.

Brevard Ward

Counselor / Cabin 1

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Last summer I had an amazing opportunity to be a counselor. It was such a sweet summer of pouring into every girl who walked into my cabin. There was one camp in particular that was abnormally heavy. The girls had experienced extreme heartache and pain. I gave them a piece of my heart that week and as the camp was winding down, I began to pray for closure. I had loved these girls so much and was completely heartbroken over sending them back to the situations going on at home. I wanted peace of mind and closure, and yet that is not what the Father provided. The girls ended up leaving abruptly during breakfast. They walked out with trays in hand and that was it. I was so confused why the Lord did not provide that. I believed that He could have, but also did not understand why He did not. Throughout the year, the girls continued to stay on my heart and I would just pray for them and ask God why He did not provide closure. 

Fast forward to Summer 2018 and I have the opportunity to be a senior counselor. The first camp I had a wedding to attend, the second camp I got sick, and the third camp I was sick again. It was now time for Student Camp 1 and I had yet to make it through a full camp as a counselor. I was excited but so nervous that something would happen and I would not be able to make it through the camp. I was sitting on my porch waiting for campers to show up and across the camp I saw two girls hilariously dragging all of their things across the grass. As they got closer I realized that these girls were my campers from last summer. By the end of registration I had five campers from the summer before that were a part of the cabin I had loved so deeply. I was extremely excited for one-on-ones and to hear about what had happened in their lives this past year. But as they began to open up I was able to see the pain, the brokenness, and the loneliness they were experiencing. There was one camper in particular that had experienced deep pains and had attempted suicide during the year. I could see in her eyes that she had no hope. The first night there was an invitation and she came out. We sat down and she kept saying “How can I believe there is a God when...” and began to list broken and painful experiences she has had to walk through. I had never been so straight forward with anyone about how much they need Jesus. I shared with her the life and hope available to her but she always counteracted it with a hard circumstance that she has gone through. However, there was so much hope. She also kept saying, “I just need something. I have nothing. I need something.” In the midst of her pain and suffering, I began to see the Lord soften her heart towards Him. This first night was proof that her soul was seeking for something. Something real and powerful and significant and I knew that Jesus was that.

The next night was “LFR After Dark”. During the final station at “LFR After Dark” the counselor would take one camper at a time to wash their feet while the ministry partner debriefed with them what they had experienced at the previous stations. With the ministry partner, she started to share the thoughts she had told me earlier. Thoughts of her doubting because of the pain she has experienced. In that time, the ministry partner began to share her own story. She shared how God can use all of those things and heartbreak to reach other people and for a platform for His love in our own lives. I believe that this was a conversation of redemption that allowed for the camper to open her heart to all the Father had for her that week. As the camp went on, this camper began to ask for extra Bible verses to read throughout the day and in her bed at night. I could see the Lord stirring up things in her heart and there was a newfound curiosity born in her spirit. The last night of camp we always have a campfire service. This is a time for the campers to share a testimony of what the Father had done in their lives while at camp the past week. It was story after story about how Jesus had rescued these students from heavy and hard things. The campers were experiencing hope and freedom for some of the first times. Papa Rich, the camp director, had decided to do an invitation after the bonfire and all the counselors headed to the back. I just knew something big was going to happen. The girl who had walked into my cabin with no hope or belief in anything came back for the invitation. I remembered her coming out the first night and all the questions she had but this time was different. She came back and found me. Once we sat down I asked why she came back and she said that she was ready. She went on saying that she was ready to be rescued, ready to be forgiven, ready to have hope, ready for life and life abundantly. That night she accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior. It was truly beautiful to see so clearly how the Father pursues each of us so intentionally and intimately. This sweet camper that I had the opportunity to have in my cabin for two summers was finally experiencing the freedom and love available to us in Jesus. 

Raegan Barber

Counselor / Cabin 6

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Being a counselor has been one of the most amazing experiences of my life, and I have been internally impacted by these sweet young ladies that have been placed in my cabin by the Father. Camp after camp God has been so good and has continually wrapped His arms around me through the love these young girls have for each other, LFR, and me.  On one particular night during Kid’s Camp B, my cabin and I had a great conversation about the beauty of the Gospel. The young ladies were all nine and ten during that camp, so I was incredibly shocked when they wanted to have a conversation about something so mature. It was absolutely beautiful. My workstaff cabin partner, Abbey Jacks, shared something that took my breath away during that conversation. She said to the campers “Do you guys know how beautiful the stars and moon are? Well, God didn’t come and die for the moon and stars. He came and died for you. That means that you are more valuable than the moon and stars.” How amazing is that though?  (PRAISE JESUS!!!) The next night was “LFR After Dark”. If you aren’t familiar with the concept of “LFR After Dark”, it’s a worship experience that campers take a part in on the third night of camp. This year the Spirit led us to take the campers on a journey of experiencing God’s goodness using the five senses. At the end of the whole worship experience their counselor let them feel God’s goodness by washing their feet individually.  Since we all had talked about how good God is the night before “LFR After Dark” during Kids Camp B, I knew that washing my campers’ feet that was going to be a wonderful time. God clearly told me that He wanted to wash one particular camper’s feet last that night. When He first told me that, I was in a state of confusion. I had such a deep connection with this camper and wanted to take her to the feet washing station right away. Abba just kept whispering to me, “Be still and trust me,” so I washed all my campers’ feet and took her to the station last. She was already crying when she sat down and was in a state of pure excitement about the fact that I was finally going to wash her feet. “I am sorry I took you last, but I am excited to wash your feet”. She then said, “I was confused at first when you were not coming to get me, but I am so glad that you took me here last. I had so much time to look at the stars and soak in the fact that God thinks I am more beautiful than them. He is SUCH a good Father.” The only reply I could manage without bursting into happy tears at that time was, “He SO is!” What a summer. What a Savior!

Chandler Mims

Counselor / Cabin 20

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This has been the best first half of the summer I have ever experienced. God has showed up and showed out this summer. At times it has been so overwhelming all I could do is cry like a “big ole baby.” I can remember one time in particular I was walking a young man through the gospel and when I was done we prayed and he accepted Christ into his life. He then looked up at me with this look of total fulfillment in his eyes. To see him feel the love of Christ for the first time literally touched my soul. God showed me that being exhausted from camp is so worth it for that one look!

Haley Johns

Counselor / Cabin 4

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Being a counselor this summer has been such a sweet blessing. This is the third summer I have been on staff and each summer the Father never fails to amaze me with His goodness. This summer it has been so great to see the campers experience His goodness in ways like I never have before. During Kids Camp B, I had several girls in my cabin really understand what Jesus did for them on the cross and it was life-changing for those girls. It was during “LFR After Dark” at the last station where they were able to “see” that the Lord is good. At this station the counselors are able to take each camper individually and wash their feet while explaining the Gospel to them. Once all my girls had their feet washed, I went back to where they were sitting and saw that almost every single one of them was in tears. We were able to talk about what they experienced and they were able to talk about the things on their hearts. These girls were humbled by the fact that Jesus would come and die on the cross for them!  The tears they cried were not sad tears, but instead, tears of gratitude and joy because of what Jesus had done for them on the cross. During that camp, three of those sweet girls in my cabin accepted Jesus as their Savior! I am forever thankful that I was able to see these girls “taste and see” that good gift of salvation for the first time!     

Jake Herndon

Counselor / Cabin 17

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This summer has been absolutely incredible.  The Lord has been teaching me to trust Him in literally all areas of my life. It began with the nighttime devotionals and Bible Studies.  I quickly figured out that I didn’t have the ability to lead those kids on my own.  After a few flops, God taught me how to rely on Him for help and for what to say.  Then God started asking me to trust Him with big things.  It was put on my heart by God around mid-summer to move down from Oklahoma, where I am from, to Mississippi.  I had no idea what that would look like or where to even start.  Beginning with school, I looked for a college that wouldn’t put me back time and money, and settled on one.  Soon after applying, I was accepted.

Then began the hard part, there was a stretch of about two weeks where I couldn’t find a house or a job.  This was a little scary because it was getting close to August and I didn’t have anything solid yet as far as housing or a job. I prayed, “God if you want me here, then I need You to give me a house and a job.”  So basically, if I didn’t have anything by then, I would go back to Oklahoma for a semester.  Then I stepped back and placed everything in God’s hands.  On the cut-off date a week later I heard from my Aunt that there was a job available for me and they were specifically looking for my application.  I was blown away. Now that I knew the door was not shut, I kept waiting.  After a few more days, I got up one morning and prayed, “God, if you want me in Mississippi, I need you to show me today.”  One of my good friends at LFR had been looking for a house for me and about an hour after I prayed, he came up to me and told me he had found one.  I was blown away, now I had everything I needed.

I could go on about how I have experienced God’s faithfulness, but I don’t know how better to put it.  He has taught me so much this summer and this has become a huge part of my testimony.

Keller Ishee

Counselor / Cabin 18

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God has done incredible things in and through me this summer at Lake Forest Ranch, but none of these things would have happened if He had not directly led me here. God made it evident that I was supposed to work at LFR this summer. It began by God leading me to Mississippi College where I met some of my very best friends. Those friends just so happened to work here at Lake Forest. They encouraged me to apply to work this summer. After much prayer, and coming up on the application deadline I never felt The Lord give me any direct answer. I had made up my mind that I was not going to apply, so I told my friends and they completely understood. Afterward, I was working at a Discipleship Now in Vicksburg where I was leading some young men in a youth group. During one of the worship services I so clearly felt God lay it on my heart that I was going to work at LFR. I kind of brushed it off as “that’s crazy, the deadline is in just a few days and I’ve already told them I wasn’t going to apply”, but God had a completely different plan.

So, I began to pray asking God to open the door for me to work at LFR if it be His will. Well, the following week several of the friends who had spoken to me about LFR came to me saying “Hey, it’s not too late to apply” and that they were still in search of counselors. This was obviously because God was saving this position for me. Still a little skeptical, I kindly told them that “I” had decided I wasn’t going to work there. That was my problem, God had specifically called me here but “I” had decided against it. Finally, God made it so incredibly clear that He wanted me to work at Lake Forest. I couldn’t run from it any further. I felt so sure about my summer and working at LFR. I applied and received the position. I say all this to say, God has completely changed the course of my entire life in just 3 months. My life genuinely would not be the same if I had not followed the call of the Lord. God has changed so many hearts including mine. He is weaving such a beautiful plan for my life, and I have Lake Forest Ranch to thank for allowing me to grow

Lauren Metz

Counselor / Cabin 8

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“I’m an atheist,” Morgan said. During our first interaction in the cabin, Morgan declared she was atheist and didn’t care about Christianity and she opened up about all of the pain she had experienced in her 17 years of life. I wasn’t sure how to respond but was able to trust the LORD knowing He would work at camp.

Two days later, the Father was walking me through some false identity messages I have believed and one night during Pow Wow I sat outside and spent time relearning who I am in Christ. The Father was teaching me and I was able to share that truth with Morgan. That same night, Morgan approached me after Pow Wow wanting to talk. We sat down and she poured out her heart; the identity messages, lies, and brokenness.  That night Morgan realized her need for a savior and her emptiness and tasted His goodness and freedom for the first time. Her heart was washed white as snow and she began a personal relationship with the LORD.  It was a beautiful story of Redemption.

Later that night, Morgan had a desire to read some scripture so I pointed her toward the book of Ephesians. When I walked into the cabin later that evening, another one of my campers was reading and explaining truth found in Ephesians to Morgan. It was a blessing to watch the Father radically change Morgan’s heart through other campers in my cabin.

On the last morning of camp, Morgan was baptized in the lake. I witnessed a child of God declaring her new found life in Christ.

Rachel Broom

Counselor / Cabin 3

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This summer I was given the opportunity to be a senior counselor. Last summer I got to share Christ’s love to so many girls in my cabin and was able to see them experience the freedom only He can give. As a counselor, I did not always get to see the impact that camp makes in the lives of campers. Often times, I feel like my campers leave without having a transformative experience. One of the really sweet things about being a senior counselor is the opportunity to have campers from the previous summer in my cabin for a second year. There was one camper in particular that I had my first summer and she doubted the Lord’s goodness due to many difficult situations that she was facing. The last morning of camp she walked out of my cabin feeling very unsure about God’s love for her. This summer I was given the opportunity to have the same camper in my cabin. God’s faithfulness was so evident because she was walking in the love and truth of Christ. Everything about her had completely changed. She was filled with joy, hope, and peace. During one-on-one time she told me all about God’s promises and she was so firm in all that she believed. I was able to see 2 Corinthians 5:17 literally come to life through this camper. This reminded me of the Lord’s faithfulness and that He is chasing after their hearts even when they leave Lake Forest Ranch. This was such a reminder that the Lord’s work does not stop after the kids leave camp. It only continues.

Anna Leach

Counselor / Cabin 7

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One of my favorite moments from the summer was when God allowed me to simply be a spectator of the transformative power of His love in the life of a camper who did not even belong to me. The Christian life is really about setting our sights on God so that we can bear witness and present a testimony of His glory. 1 John 3:3 “And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” This is what purifies us, this is what changes us, and this is what leads to ordinary people living extraordinary lives – fixing our hope on Christ.

During meal times one camp I had this twelve year old boy, (we can refer to him as Tanner), who sat at my table for the week. Every meal time it felt like it was Tanner’s mission to make my job as difficult and inconvenient as possible. He would spill his drink on purpose – he told me as much – and by accident when he was snatching at other kids belongings at the table. The most trying part of it all was his attitude and resistance against necessary correction. There was one meal that I was literally in tears out of frustration after campers left the dining hall for afternoon recreation because of the disrespect he had shown. My prayer for most of the week was that I would be able to show Tanner love and grace in the midst of being firm when it came to his misbehavior. I tried to remind myself that he was only twelve years old and may not have a background where he was given a solid framework and example of what it looks like to show others respect and courtesy. You cannot act out what you do not know. However, my frustration got the better of me most of the time. Most of the time I was asking God why I had to deal with this kid at my table and what good could possibly come out of it when my heart was struggling to love sincerely. 

The last night of camp came and during our Pow Wow time the speaker called for a volunteer to come up on stage to help him with a trick to illustrate a point in his message. He actually called on Tanner to come up as the volunteer. For the trick Tanner was really just sitting on the stage trusting that the speaker would not drop anything on him as he was tottering some objects precariously over Tanner’s head. Out of nowhere I started feeling an overwhelmingly heavy heart for this kid and was praying that he would simply get something, anything out of the spiritual aspects of this week. Well, at the end of the message the speaker offered an invitation for campers to respond to God’s free gift of forgiveness that He is able to offer through Christ’s death and resurrection as payment for our sins. All of the staff were waiting outside the back of the Lakeview building we were in so that we could see if any of our campers wanted to come out to respond to this invitation. As I was waiting, I saw Tanner come out the door to talk to his counselor. I was excited but I also knew that sometimes campers come out for an invitation and are simply not ready to respond so I really did not know what that conversation was going to look like. Once the invitation time came to a close we all moved over to the benches by the lakefront to have a bonfire in the dark where kids could present their testimony of what God had done in their lives that week at camp. During the testimony time, Tanner stood up with the microphone and said, “I did not think that God was able to save me until about ten minutes ago because He did.”

I had the awesome opportunity to bear witness to the transformative power of God’s grace simply because He allowed this kid to sit at my table and frustrate me all week. What an honor to be blessed with the opportunity to be a spectator of God’s grace. His grace abounds every day but sometimes we have to feel a little bit of pain to recognize what has always been there.

Emily Jacklin

Counselor / Cabin 11

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This summer, my favorite part about being a senior counselor has been girls from summers’ past coming back and staying in my cabin. It has been so precious to go deeper with returning campers that I already have such a deep connection and trust with. During Student Camp 1 I had one specific camper whom I love so dearly and had kept in touch with all year. At the beginning of our one-on-one  she said, “honestly EmJack, I did not want to come to camp this summer because I did not want to disappoint you because I feel like I have already disappointed everyone and I know you love me and think so highly of me.” It crushed me. Jesus just gave me His heart in that moment. I felt so deeply that there is nothing that she could ever do or say to make me love her any less. The Father’s heart for her is that there is absolutely nothing that could separate her from His love and when He looks at her He does not see her sin, but He sees Jesus. She is fully cleansed by the blood of the lamb and made new. We began to read the parable of the prodigal son about how the son was recklessly living and God just kept speaking to me, “While you were recklessly living, I was recklessly loving.” We talked about how while the son was still far off the father ran and embraced his son with a kiss and celebrated him coming back to the father. I love that. As I got to encourage her in this truth, Jesus was so sweetly singing this truth over me. There is nothing you can do to separate yourself from the love of the Father. I have never felt the love of the Father so deeply for another human before and I experienced a sweet taste of how the Father sees me and knows me and loves me.

Emily Bailey

Counselor / Cabin 5

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This summer was one of the most refreshing times of my life thus far, and it is all because I got to see more of God’s grace than I ever have before. I entered the summer ready for all that was to come, ready to do ministry, and to build community. However, day one of staff training wrecked all that readiness as I came to a bitter realization of two broken relationships in my life that demanded so much from me I found myself dealing with every emotion under the sun all at the same time and I absolutely buckled under the weight. In the middle of the overwhelming confusion, the Holy Spirit sweetly, gently reminded me that I needed to have grace for those two people and more importantly that I could not possibly summon up that much grace on my own. I had to go directly to the source of grace and find it to give to others from none other than the Giver of Grace Himself. Jesus overflowed my cup held by my shaking hands and worked in those two relationships to bring healing and restoration; a perfect picture of what He did for our relationship in pouring out His saving blood over our sins. It was a beautiful reminder of the fact that God’s grace has redemptive power!

However, the story is not over there. From the beginning of the summer I also began to struggle with anxiety over my future because I desperately want confirmation from a job in Livermore, California and was receiving none at all. I was frustrated with myself for feeling stressed because Christ in me reminds my soul that there is no need to worry; yet, I could not seem to stop myself from having moments of deep doubt that God actually had a good plan for my life. Back in March when I applied for the position in Livermore, I felt that God told me this was the job for me, but in May and then into June as the end of the summer drew closer and closer, I also felt anxiety creep closer and closer to my heart. Noticing my anxiousness only made me more anxious, and I entered a bitter cycle of a complete lack of grace for myself and of trust that God was greater than my situation; cue the Holy Spirit. He reminded me all over again of His grace- the very message I teach my campers in Bible Study. He told me that I am not a disappointment and that He keeps His promises even if it does not look like He will and- amazingly- even if I do not trust that He will. He told me that He had grace for every single part of my life.

Then He put one certain girl in my cabin.

I did not even see it coming over the course of the week as I got to know her and spend time with her; God was already proclaiming His grace over the above situations in my life. I just saw this camper as any other camper and while I loved her very dearly, I certainly did not see any connections to my own life. The Holy Spirit was beautifully orchestrating the entire scene though, so my obliviousness just led to a spectacular moment of revelation. That moment came when I went to write follow-up letters to my campers, including this special camper, after the camp session ended. I penned my letters and began to address them- then I saw her address: Livermore Street, the very name of the city to which I was hoping to move to. The town with the job to which I felt God had pointed me. The place that had not yet responded to me about anything official. I had no confirmation at that point in time and had been so greatly doubting, but in that beautiful moment, the Holy Spirit reminded me all over again that His grace is sufficient even when my faith in Him is miniscule. His grace will be with me everywhere I go and He keeps His promises! Through His voice I remembered that there is grace in every relationship and in every question about the future and in every moment in which I feel like a failure. Through one special camper who lives on Livermore Street, I was beautifully reminded by the grace of God that God has grace for me.

(p.s. She got the job in Livermore, CA!)

Gavin Grant

Counselor / Cabin 12

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Last year I had a camper named Gage.  We got along really well the previous summer, and we had a good one-on-one.  He did not receive Christ that week but during our “LFR After Dark”, he shared some things with me and cried a lot.  This year, at Kids Camp B, Gage showed up on my front porch again. It was really cool to see him again.  I immediately recognized and remembered him.  During “LFR After Dark”, this year, we had a foot washing station where the campers could come up and talk to their counselor about the Gospel and why we were washing their feet so that the door could be opened for them to share anything on their hearts.  I was talking about all the usual things, and then I asked Gage if he had ever received Christ (I couldn’t remember from last year) and he said, “Yea.  Well, I’m not really sure.”  I asked him why and he began to explain how the previous year (when he was in my cabin) he asked Jesus into his heart on the last night in his bed because he wanted to go to heaven and he was afraid of going to hell.  He ended by saying, “But I didn’t really understand what I was doing.”  Then I asked him if he wanted to make it real this time.  He said yes, so I explained the Gospel to him again, as well as how to receive Christ. He then prayed in his heart and received Christ.  To my surprise, he didn’t really have any emotion, and when I asked him how he felt, he said, “Well, I feel a little better.”  In my head, I was pretty shocked because on the outside, it didn’t really seem like he had received Him for real this time either.  The next day we had our one-on-one, and I made it my goal to figure out if he actually knew what decision he had made the previous night.  All it took was the question, “So can you tell me about last night?”  Gage just went on and on about the Gospel and about how last year he didn’t realize what he was doing, but this year, he understood the Gospel and that’s why he wanted to receive Christ.   He then talked to me about how he was going to live that out, and he asked questions about his new life in Christ.  I was just sitting there thinking, “Wow, this guy gets it.”  I could hear in his voice and in his words that he was in fact a new creation in Christ.  We continued to talk about his decision for another half hour; and there I was, sitting in amazement at the change of heart that Jesus had done for Gage.  Through all of it, I was able to see the Father’s faithfulness.  From last year, creating that bond between Gage and me, and him taking a step towards God without me even knowing it, to this year, reuniting us and inviting Gage into a relationship with Him.  I didn’t have to figure out if what Gage did was real because the Father had already solidified that in his heart, but he chose to use me and allow me to see the fruit of His work.

Katie Jennings

Counselor / Cabin 10

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This whole summer I have been feeling super discouraged about none of my campers getting saved.  I was listening to so many different lies like that I was not walking in the Spirit and that I was not “good enough.”  One night in particular, I really felt the Spirit moving during an invitation.  I had some campers who were really close to salvation, so I was really expecting at least one camper to come to the back.  However, none of them did and I continued to believe this lie that I wasn’t praying hard or long enough.  One of the other staff members just began to encourage me and tear down lies.  As he was telling me truth, I could feel this heaviness lifting off of my heart.  The very next morning, during the short break, I was talking to a camper.  I asked her if she knew Jesus or not and she said, “I don’t know,” and I just said, “Do you want to?” She accepted Jesus into her heart and was SO excited!  She began reading the Bible I gave her all day, even during meals.  The Lord was faithful and it was so good to see her wonder and hunger for what the Lord had for her.

Lucas Stocks

Counselor / Cabin 16

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My first summer reflection involves a lesson I learned while praising God at the same time.  I had some adult leaders tell me at a meeting that one of their kids was terrified of one-on-one time, talking about Jesus things, and just anything like that.  The guy almost didn’t come to camp because he knew about the one-on-one ministry that we do and did not want to have any of those conversations.  So to make a long story short, I purposefully held his one-on-one time last.

I found out that day that the guy was actually leaving a night early but I was able to get them to hold off until after we talked.  That night I made a plan to have my ministry partner call my kids inside one by one until it was just me and the kid that I needed, but my ministry partner ended up having to do work-staff stuff, so I did the one thing you should never do, let the other campers in on the plan.  They were super ready to help me but when I gave them the cue they had no idea at first.  When they remembered, they walked inside and mass chaos somehow followed.  I had campers running to the yard, acting goofy, and when I sent them all inside except the one I needed, I told him everything that I tried to do and told him that the one-on-ones are not scary.  It is just me wanting to get to know him, and if he would let me, I would still like to.  He took it really well and we talked for a bit.  He ended up accepting Jesus into his heart that night.  He walked to his mom’s car less than 10 minutes later.  So if all that crazy stuff had not happened, he might not have come to know the Lord.  That week I learned a lot about being intentional and loving campers fully.

Meg Baylis

Counselor / Cabin 2

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Arriving at Lake Forest this summer has been unlike any summer before. In a previous summer I was on staff as a sunshine club leader for second half, but this summer serving as a counselor has been like no other. There have been countless encounters with campers that have allowed me to witness the character and heart of God piece by piece. My prayer at the beginning of the summer was to see His heart, no matter what the cost, whether that includes sufferings and hardships or not. Jesus has delivered time and time again in some very trying weeks. After one of these weeks, in which I had to remind myself of the true nature of the Lord, He revealed His saving character to me. Let me explain; the week before had begun to feel very mundane and rehearsed in the way that I communicated to my campers and even the staff. I was very discouraged and did not feel at all as if I was walking in the Spirit and in His guidance. I was stuck in a cycle of comparing my “failures” as a counselor to that of the “successes” of others. Our Father so kindly reminded me that it was nothing that I could strive to do, be, or even say to these girls that would cause their time here at camp to be what a “success” was in my mind. God was working in their lives whether I realized it or not. The very next week I had a completely full cabin with a lot of campers that had a lot of broken hearts. I was terrified because I felt I was lacking the Spirit’s ability to work in me the way that He had already promised me! Just like the children of Israel, I was so very quick to forget the goodness of my good God. It was the first night of Pow Wow and the speaker had voiced to us that he would be providing an invitation for the campers. Automatically I had begun to doubt what God could do in the hearts of these girls. I doubted that He would allow them to “taste and see” of His goodness. But praise our God, who is not defined by my doubts. As soon as the invitation was given, six out of my ten campers flooded the back doors. I was overcome by the goodness of Abba and the power of the Spirit when all of these six girls came to a personal relationship with Jesus that very night. I gained six new sisters in Christ not because of anything that I could have ever done, but because of Who my God is. I saw His heart for those precious girls that night and throughout the rest of the camp. Praise God because He IS the God who saves.

Jacob Talazac

Counselor / Cabin 13

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This summer has been a time chock full of growth and incredible learning. At the start of the summer my prayer was for the Lord to stretch me personally. I came into this summer not knowing what was going to happen or how I was going to survive this completely new experience. He definitely has answered my prayer in big ways and I have grown closer to the Lord exponentially more than I previously thought was possible.

God began to answer my prayers starting with the first week of campers, but I only realized this after the camp ended. Not only was this my first taste of this completely new experience, but I was leading the youngest age group. No matter what I did throughout the week, my campers seemed distracted. I was working so hard trying to get these kids to understand how much God loves them. I was stressed, discouraged, and absolutely exhausted. I felt like nothing I did was going to help my campers understand the Gospel. I kept trying to impact these kids’ lives for Christ and then became frustrated when there was no positive response. Throughout Kids Camp A there were many different and hard situations that happened with my campers. Dealing with these situations was something that was completely new to me. Every waking moment I was wondering what was going to go wrong. I went through this week of camp absolutely empty, frustrated, and wondering what the Lord was trying to teach me through this insane experience. On the last night, our speaker was giving an invitation and the counselors went to the back of Lakeview. I remember looking down the aisle and seeing one of my campers. I spent a lot of personal time encouraging this camper, and it was frustrating when there was absolutely no movement or interest in the Gospel. When I sat down to talk to the camper, there was an overwhelming feeling of relief that came from nothing but God. In talking to this camper through salvation, God began to speak to me. He told me that I had been focusing my entire week on what I could do in my own strength rather than what God could do in His awesome power. He told me that I needed to let the Holy Spirit work in the lives of these campers and that I should not worry about things that only He can control. God answered my prayer through an absolutely crazy first week of camp. Even though Kids Camp A was the most stressful week that I have experienced, seeing God at work in huge ways made every second worth it.

Mason Kendall

tribe leader

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My summer at LFR has been filled with so much. I have learned a lot about myself and my relationship with Christ. I started out the summer thinking I would be here for six camps and ended up staying for the entirety of the twelve. I am so thankful that God allowed me to stay and be a part of workstaff. As a tribe leader I had so much fun pouring into the little seven and eight year olds. I learned to have lots of patience and to trust in the Lord to give me strength, because without him I would not have been able to do it. When I switched from tribe to workstaff, I was able to work hard, but also was able to be poured into constantly.

During the weeks leading up to camp, I started to worry about how people would feel about a fifteen year old being on staff. My age ended up not defining who I was at all. I understood that I didn’t have as much life experience as others and I was able to use that as a way to learn from others. I had always known that God had granted me the gift of maturity at a young age and I am so thankful that I was able to be treated not as a number, but as a brother in Christ by many of the other people on staff.

The relationships I formed this summer have been so good. I cannot put into words the amount of knowledge that I have been able to gather from all of these amazing people on staff. I learned that I am my own person in Christ and that as long as I am living my life for Him, I do not necessarily need everyone to like me. I also learned that it is ok to not be ok. God has given us people that we can lean on when we are weak. I am so inexpressibly thankful for this summer at Lake Forest Ranch and the relationships that I have formed.

Nicholas Leach

tribe leader

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This summer working at LFR was way more of a growing rollercoaster than I could’ve ever imagined. I came into this summer kind of nervous, not really knowing what to expect. I loved kids, and had worked with them before, but didn’t have a whole lot of experience with them. The 1st half of this summer started with one of the wildest and most stressful camps for me personally:  the kids in my cabin were very hyperactive and they did not listen to authority well. I was almost shell shocked at first, and felt like I had been hit by a train the first night. God pulled through though, like He always does. He provided the words and strength necessary to find my place with these kids and showed me how to truly love them. I regret how I acted during the early part of the week; not being mean, but I did not focus on loving the kids as I should’ve. God showed me how He loved those kids, though, by the end of that week, and I started to learn about how much love and patience He has with us. Praise God, one of the kids in my cabin that week got saved.

The next couple of camps were much calmer, and God continued to teach me how to love even in discipline. Those camps flew by, with me meeting many more kids who are so dear. I went home for a while during midsummer and came back for a Student Camp and Mission Camp Macon. That was an amazing time of growing and being filled up. The Lord taught me to let go of my ambitions and thoughts and to surrender to His will. I started having a peace beyond words to just trust and obey Him, to seek His will. God used that so much during the last three camps I worked as tribe leader, allowing me to speak the Gospel into these kid’s hearts and to give them an example of love. I was definitely not perfect, and especially during the last camp I started relying upon my own strength and comfort from others, but God worked despite me during those times.

I would love to have this wonderful, grandiose story about an interaction I had with a kid that was just awe-inspiring and mind blowing and changed that kid’s life forever, but I don’t. I have had a ton of impactful moments with kids. The Lord has allowed me to disciple children who have recently come to know the Lord, and He has allowed me to plant so many seeds. Though I may not see the fruition of that planting, I still trust that God who begins a good work in people will bring it to completion until the day of Christ Jesus our Lord. Some kids may fall away, but nonetheless they’ve tasted and seen that the Lord is good at some level. Praise Christ.

Reba Tate

tribe chief

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Throughout this summer the Father has constantly reminded me of His faithfulness over and over through so many encounters. The one that sticks out to me the most would be Mission Camp Macon. Being a mentor and working ropes meant I wouldn’t be spending much time with my team, so from the beginning of the week I began to ask the Father that He would give me deep connection with at least one of the campers on my team. Throughout the week Tyrese, Tray, and I really began to hit it off. Tyrese had told me he was not a Christian and my heart longed for him to know my Father. Fast forward to family night… as people began to fill the gym I was searching the crowd for any of the kids that were on my team. I spotted Tray sitting at the very top of the bleachers; I walked up to say hey and was then going to sit back with the staff. As we talked I just felt like I was supposed to stay with him. At the end of the service the pastor gave an invitation, and Tray and I began to talk about the gospel and what it was Christ had done for him and why.

As we talked, other guys around us began to listen. One made the comment, “This saying a prayer thing doesn’t do anything, you say it tonight and tomorrow you’ll be right back cussing, drinking and doing all that junk. I know all this stuff, my dad is the pastor down there.” I looked at him and said, “You just don’t get it do you?” I explained to him that the gospel wasn’t about him doing something to make himself a better person. Salvation was all about what Jesus had done for him and receiving that. He said to the half dozen football players now sitting around me “Guys y’all need to hear this, this is for all of us!”  So I began to explain the gospel to all of them.  I could see him begging to understand what the gospel was as we all walked through it. And how cool that I’m now in the middle of this group of guys, just laying out the simplicity of the gospel. Then here comes my buddy Tyrese, he sat down next to me and we began talking about the gospel, answering his questions, and explaining why sin had to be paid for and why Jesus had to die in order for us to be forgiven. He looked at me and said, “I want Him Reba.” We walked through Romans 10:9-13 and I watched the Father make my friend a new person! I held back tears as I saw all of the guys listening to my every word and understanding it for the first time. We serve a good Father who is faithful to supply opportunities to share His truth. My socks were rocked. Oh taste and see…. The Lord is SO good!

Anna Grace Sims

workstaff

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When I found out I was going to be on workstaff this summer, I also found out that I was going to be a ministry partner in a cabin, which was super exciting for me. I love kids, so spending time with them is what I was looking forward to the most about my time at Lake Forest. After the first “LFR After Dark”, I was feeling super discouraged because none of the girls in the cabin seemed to be engaged or interested in the conversation I was trying to have with them. When the next “LFR After Dark”, night rolled around, I was extremely anxious and worried that it would be a repeat of the first. I knew that the Lord had worked in those girls’ hearts, and maybe they just didn’t feel like sharing at that time, but I was still dreading having that same feeling of discouragement. However, the Lord had something so special and so beautiful in store. During this “LFR After Dark”, the girls could not stop talking about all of the different ways they had experienced Jesus’ goodness in their lives and how much they wished everyone would come to know His love. As I sat there listening to them, I was also silently praying and thanking the Lord for His faithfulness and presence in these girls’ lives and in mine. Just as I finished praying, one of  the little girls looked up at me and said, “Tonight, I really felt like Jesus was touching me and whispering to me about how much  He loves me.” It was one of the sweetest moments I’ve ever experienced.  In these past few weeks at LFR, God has been continually revealing His sweetness to me in so many different ways, starting with this precious little moment that I’ll treasure forever.

Garrett Hansen

workstaff

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This summer was my first one at LFR.  Coming into the summer, I was not very comfortable talking to people about my faith.  In no way did I feel prepared to share the Gospel with children.  Little did I know that I would be doing just that when we did “LFR After Dark”. During staff training and the first Kids Camp, every message that I heard or read seemed to shout, “Trust God and trust the Holy Spirit.” 

When the first “LFR After Dark” came around, I asked God to take over. I asked Him to speak through me and that nothing I said that night would be from me.  As I walked up to my campers that night, I had this sense of peace about the conversation to come.  God made it clear to me that He would accomplish everything He needed to that night, regardless of me. And He did!  That night two of my campers accepted Christ and the others really seemed to connect with the message of tasting and seeing God’s goodness. God showed me that when you trust Him with your fears, He delivers on His promises.

Daniel Alonso

workstaff

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I guess I should start with how I got here. Mason Cosby, who was on staff last year, told me to apply after I said I did not have any plans for the summer. A couple weeks later I was on a Facetime call with Nick Hall, the Assistant Director, accepting a job as a first half work staffer. I have never been to a camp before, so I did not know what to expect going into this. I knew what I needed to do as far as the job description of workstaff and from what I had been told about the people at the camp, but that still was not much to go on. The day I drove to LFR I got lost in the woods and had to call the Director, Papa Rich, to help me get off of a private road. I was then quickly introduced to all the people I would be with for the rest of the first-half of the summer. I usually have a very tedious and rigorous list of requirements and challenges to get close to me in terms of being a friend. So I really only expected to be kind of close to people, if even close friends. What God did during the first week of camp was very uncomfortable for me. To be considered family to me is the highest reward a person can get from me, but also the hardest one. I only have a small group of people who are. The total is at about 7, 5 are my blood, immediate family. Everyone else is just a close friend of mine.  However, God had other intentions for that small group I have had since 7th grade. I have never really been without my family because I have always been with either my twin sister or my best friend, who is like a brother to me, or been at least able to call them. When I came here and I was going to have my phone taken up, I was worried because I was going into new territory. God was there and had already laid a path down for me though. He had put people here that would bump that list of family up to 10. The last person who had been added to that group took around 4 years to get there and then fell out of it rather quickly. So having 3 new people just tossed in a matter of 4 days was very, very nerve-wracking for me and really threw me for a loop. It was all a good nerve-wracking though, because I was both appreciative of these new relationships as well as clearly being able to see that God was at work in these relationships and the clarity of their ascension into family-level friends. I am incredibly happy to have made these lifelong friendships and they have definitely helped me in my personal pursuit of finding the joy and happiness that God has already put in my life rather than asking for Him to put some in my life. It has also added to my testimony of how God provides for me without me even knowing I needed something. I am excited to see what else I have in store and how I will be able to use this experience in the future. That’s about it.

Harrison Fontenoy

workstaff

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The Lord blessed me in a million ways this summer and I can honestly say this was the most I have ever felt in God’s will. My reflection centers on Mission Camp Macon, although the lesson learned there resonated throughout the whole summer. I went into Mission Camp Macon very frustrated, not knowing what to expect. Being on Workstaff, I was originally assigned a position as a team mentor for Team 4. Unfortunately, I was also picked to work on the Mission Camp Workstaff team as well, meaning not only would I have to work two jobs but that I would also barely be able to communicate or mentor my team captains at all. For me, this was devastating because I had lost the one chance I was given all summer to be a somewhat counselor rather than just continue with manual labor. In that moment, I became very frustrated and disappointed for the first day or so and found myself growing angry with God for what I thought was Him holding me back. Instead, He used the situation to reaffirm the idea of being still in His presence and having faith in His timing yet again this summer. After finally calming down and shutting up, I finished my duties with plenty of time each day and plenty of opportunities to mentor and work with my team captains, who were amazing and so willing to learn from the Lord as they served Him. One of the days that I was free to help my team, I happened to catch one of my team captains beginning to argue and shove one of his campers after the end of a game of archery tag. I immediately felt God pushing me to act, so I jumped up to the situation and pulled him aside to calm him down. After days of prayer that God would use me and speak through me to someone during Mission Camp Macon, I was able to sit and talk with him about the never-ending grace of God and the character and patience that Jesus showed as an example for us as He walked the earth. It was incredibly encouraging to watch my camper’s face relax and respond to the words that God put in my mouth and I truly felt in the midst of God’s will, which was worth every second of frustration and waiting that I went through up to that point. God continued to provide opportunities for me to disciple and love him throughout the rest of the week. It became so clear to me that those campers were there just for that one week and that it may be the only time they see and experience the love of God in their lives. I was able to help my team captain understand that we must strive to be like Christ at all times because we want the campers and others in general to witness something different in our actions and how we speak, thus opening a door for Jesus to go to work through us. God took something that normally would have just made me mad and impatient and used it to not only work in my team captain’s life on his quick-temper, but also to continue to teach me and reinforce the idea of being still and knowing that He is God and that I can do nothing without Him who lives in me and works through me. Psalm 46:10

Kassandra Wimbish

workstaff

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Looking back at the beginning of the summer, I realize that there were so many things I was fearful about coming into camp as workstaff along with being a ministry partner, but the Lord has worked through that fear to bring His glory. When I had first heard what my position was for “LFR After Dark”, I was nervous to talk to the girls in my cabin about what they had experienced in the Lord’s goodness through the week because I myself was struggling to understand what that really meant in my own life. Getting to just be with the girls and share my own testimony with them has been such a cool experience because as I’m sharing with them, the Lord has worked through things in my life that I realized I had no control over. I think one of my favorite parts of this summer has been getting to get to know each girl in my cabin individually. I was able to have a couple of one-on-ones with some of my girls, and it was honestly such a blessing to see how the Lord was working in their own lives. In my past experience as a camper, I don’t remember the ministry partners being involved as much, but I am definitely so glad I got to be a part of these girls’ lives and hopefully had an impact on them for Christ’s glory.

Holly Busby

workstaff

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This summer was super awesome and cool to take part in. I loved getting the opportunity to grow in amazing community. Being on workstaff, I really did not get that many opportunities to connect with campers like counselors do. Honestly, for the first eight camps this summer, I started to get discouraged because I was not connecting with any of the girls in my cabin. The ninth camp of the summer was Mission Camp Macon. This camp was really refreshing because I was able to love on kids, but I also had to rely fully on God, and through that He taught me so much about His character. During Mission Camp Macon I was the Assistant Kid’s Camp Director at St. Mark’s.  At St. Mark’s, I was able to connect to a lot of the local Macon kids. I got to just hang out and play with them and not worry about any of my workstaff duties for the short period I was with them. I connected to three of the girls there: Taniyah, Destinee, and Tylar. Overall, Mission Camp Macon was a refreshing week. I felt energized and ready to finish out the rest of the summer. If all of this was not amazing enough, Taniyah was able to come to Kid’s Camp F a couple of weeks later on a campership. At Kid’s Camp F, I was able to get to know Taniyah even more. On the first full day of camp, Taniyah accepted Jesus as her Lord and Savior! I will never forget the way she came up to me and told me what happened. She had the biggest smile on her face. The next day I was able to hang out with her some more. We went swimming, tubing, paddle boating, and got snacks from the snack shop. It was a blast. I am so thankful for the opportunities I have been given this summer to show God’s love to those around me and I pray that every camper this summer will remember the ways they learned to “taste and see that the Lord is good!”

Lauren Stanfill

workstaff

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This summer turned out different than I anticipated. Although it was one of the hardest experiences of my life, it was also the most transforming. Not only did I see the love shown by God, but also that love expressed through others. Through seeing a visual of this, I was able to see my need to have a personal relationship with the Savior. I am blown away with the amount of change I have seen in myself the past few weeks.  As I reflect on my summer, all I can say is that God is good. He knew exactly what I needed despite my plans.

As a part of Workstaff, I was able to serve the campers from behind the scenes. I have learned that in all I do, I should do it to glorify my Father. I am extremely thankful for the amazing group of people I was able to work with; they are the best! We were able to grow together as a team as God began to heal our hearts one by one. In the morning time I enjoyed going to the Malone’s Bible study where we were poured into with words of God’s truth.  I am so thankful for their influence on my life. Through their words and actions I was strengthened in my walk with Christ. I would not trade my time at LFR for anything.

Molly Ory

workstaff

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When I think back on my summer here at LFR, at all of the things I’ve learned and all of the things that I’ve experienced, one of the main things that I think about is faith in Christ. God has taught me so much about trusting in Him this summer and doing what He says even if I don’t understand it or want to do it.

Student Camp 4 was a crazy week for me; I was super excited to get to know the girls in my cabin because I grew up going to Student Camp 4 and knew most of the campers that were coming. It was a really big camp so we had two people working some positions and there just wasn’t a lot of free time for me to go find them and hang out with them. All of the girls in my cabin were very soft spoken and I think only four of them knew each other and requested to be together; it was a very quiet cabin. I remember getting ready for “LFR After Dark”; I didn’t really know any of the girls that well at all and I felt so unprepared on what I was going to say. I figured that it would be me speaking to them for a little while and then God working in them. I didn’t think that I would see them really reacting to anything that I was saying, which I was totally fine with. I walked with them through everything and then we all sat down on the tarp together. I remember talking about all of the stations and talking about how evident God’s goodness is in everything.

All of a sudden I just really felt the Holy Spirit telling me to share my testimony, which I was not planning on doing. I didn’t really want to share my testimony, but I started to anyways, though I left out the parts that I was scared of sharing. I remember that I was halfway through, and God spoke to me so clearly. He was telling me not to be ashamed of the struggles that I’ve gone through and the times I’ve messed up, and instead to rejoice in how He saved me from it and how much I grew in it. He told me that He wanted the girls in my cabin to hear my whole testimony; I didn’t want to; so I fought against it for a while. God wouldn’t let me feel peace about what I was saying, so I eventually gave in and went deeper into my testimony. After I was done, a girl was getting back from having her feet washed and she was crying, so I sat and prayed with her for a while. When I was done I looked at the other girls on my tarp, and there was another one crying. I sat with her and asked her what she talked about, and she told me that she hadn’t gotten her feet washed yet and that she was crying because what I spoke about in my testimony was exactly what she was going through. It was the part of my testimony that I really didn’t want to share. She was the exact same age as me when I was walking through those things, and it was so amazing to be able to sit with her and encourage her. Once she started opening up to me, the other girls listened to her and they felt more comfortable and started sharing things at well. We talked until everyone was done getting their feet washed, and then talked more once we got back to the cabin. Through that, I got to have one-on-ones with some of the girls and those were just such sweet and precious moments to me. 

Our cabin was such a quiet cabin, but after that night the dynamic changed. The rest of the week was filled with so much fellowship and fun between everyone. That night has always been such a reminder to me of God’s faithfulness when we obey Him. It is crazy to think that if I wouldn’t have listened to Him, then that one girl wouldn’t have felt as moved and shared things with everyone. I just obeyed God and shared my testimony, and He transformed the whole cabin from that and let me see His power and His movement in things. 

Dan Bailey

workstaff Counselor

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Being a workstaff counselor is quite difficult. That is not to say it is more difficult than any other position, but being both means that at any moment you could be called into action. As a counselor, and likewise, if the circumstances change, you could find yourself back on workstaff. I found myself in the midst of exactly that in Kids Camp B. As soon as I saw our Assistant Program Coordinator, Tucker, approaching me with a somewhat anxious look on his face, I knew what he was about to tell me. To be perfectly frank, I was not happy. I’d been expecting to be on workstaff that week, so to find myself suddenly a counselor was a little irritating. I had not prepared the Bible Study, and I did not know the team schedule. Heck, I did not even know my kids’ names. But if I had prepared and had known I would be a counselor that week, and then I would have felt everything that happened that week was because of me. The truth is that as soon as Tucker told me I would be starting as a counselor in Cabin 20 on the second night of camp, I said, “Holy Spirit, you got this.” And let me tell you, He did. Despite starting a day behind, the campers welcomed me as their counselor. There was ample time to prepare for the Bible Study. At “LFR After Dark”, the kids (most in tears) really opened up, eager to listen to what was to be said, and to understand what they were experiencing. And, of course, there were the one-on-ones. It did not matter that I had a whole cabin to do with one less day than anticipated; the kids were easy to find and genuinely excited to get to spend time talking. The best part is that, counterintuitive though it seems, my exhaustion evaporated more and more with each one-on-one. That is not to say it did not return later with a vengeance, but when I needed it most, God gave me the energy necessary to do His will.

Dean Damon

workstaff Counselor

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During my last semester of college this past year my life had slowly begun to fall apart. In the span of a couple of months, one of my closest friends had become a quadriplegic, my only surviving grandparent died without warning, and another one of my close childhood friends committed suicide without any warning. I was hardly hanging on and the last thing I wanted to do was go to camp and tell hundreds of kids about how good God is.  

I came to camp reluctantly, wanting to stay unnoticed and wanting the first half of the summer to end as quickly as possible. I did not want to be at Lake Forest Ranch, and I did not want to make any more friends that I would have to lose. I tried to stay distant and apart from the group as much as I could. Slowly but surely, God began weaving the staff together strategically in love and in healing. The people that I began to let in wrapped around and loved me so much, and through the entire staff I was able to again taste the goodness of the Lord. Every time that I cried at camp, I was never alone like I was used to. There was always a loving arm around my shoulder and no one was trying to prescribe me a formula to feeling better, but rather just sat with me through it. Grateful is not a strong enough word.

Not only did God begin to heal me through this staff and this camp, but He also allowed me the privilege of being an agent of His healing to others. During the last camp of the first half, I was given the opportunity to be the counselor of a kid with a lot of family problems. His family just got done with a three-year, nasty divorce that left his family a wreck, and his sister began believing that she had too many issues and had become suicidal. He was just left in the aftermath of that and was trying to convince himself that he was okay.

I shared my story with all of my campers the first night, and by the last night he felt safe enough to share his with me. I listened for a long time, and was able to talk through all of the hurt within him. Eventually he brought up the fact that he didn’t feel like he could be in a relationship with the Lord because he wasn’t good enough. I then got the chance to walk him through what grace really is and the good news of the gospel. He just looked at me with wide eyes and told me that he believed that, but that he wasn’t a Christian. When he finished speaking, he dropped his head again. Then I asked if he wanted to be.

At that, he looked back up at me with tears in his eyes. “It’s all I want for my birthday.” His birthday was the first day of camp. I put my arm around him and got to pray over him and with him, and when we said amen I got the pleasure of informing him that he just had a new birthday, and this one was eternal. Of course we hugged and celebrated accordingly…

It was just so cool in that moment to see God heal and love people through me, even as I had been the recipient of healing just before. God has given me such grace, and it has been beautiful to be both the recipient of that grace and part of the overflow. The Lord is God.

Denise Webster

administrative assitant

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This summer I had the chance to come down the long dirt road and be a part of the staff at Lake Forest Ranch. When I got the job as office admin assistant, I had no clue what exactly I would be getting myself into. So I decided to begin trusting that the Lord was bringing me into a community that was exactly where I needed to be.  During Student Camp 1, I got to hang out with a church during church group time. It was such a picture of redemption; their leader was really in a hard place and was super discouraged about life. In a completely different way so was I. There was a lot of hurt and things in my past that the Lord was helping me to live in the freedom only He can offer. There was a camper who was really seeking the Father. She loved Jesus so much! When the group was leaving she walked over to me and asked to pray for the group. She wanted to pray because some people in her church group did not know the Savior. When the group left I began asking myself about the last time I cared about the people I was with enough to cry over them not knowing the gospel. This summer has changed me in so many ways. It has been a summer of freedom, healing and most importantly, rest in the Father.

Isaac Jackson

worship team

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This was a crazy summer. It was so full—full of life, redemption, healing, repentance, love. So full of growth, learning, pain, and humility by submission. I feel like He has been teaching me to walk more fully in faith. I'm so glad He provided LFR for practice. I didn't feel Him most of the summer. I was emotionally drained, which merged into my physical and spiritual life as well, yet everything was right. Oddly, just, right. The enemy was close, the one who tries to distract us with the world, from our King and the redemption he brings, yet my Shepherd was ever closer. He has guided and protected me on this journey for the missing sheep. And despite this world, I cannot contain His blessings; they pour over. He pursues me like a hunter pursues his prey. And He waits patiently, desiring relationship with us, granted by the blood of His Son. I tried to worship with what I had, and it didn't always feel like much. But this summer was so good, feeling such a rightness unwavering compared to the unstable unreliable emotions of this world. I won't lie, it was quite distracting at times. Why turn aside for the unfulfilling distractions when the Kingdom is straight ahead? Sometimes, we get on the Jesus ministry boat because it seems adventurous and fun. Like a nice experience, with a cool moral stamp so we can feel good about it. What do we do when the going gets tough and Jesus demands everything we once thought was everything? Receive His strength to live as His hands and feet. We are His body, raised for all to see Him. Resurrected for all to believe, in Him. He came to take away the sins of the world, and we are before the world as a testimony of His love and His mercy as we wait behind enemy lines. It is no longer I, but He fights the battle for me. I got to see that so well this summer.

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; For You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; My cup runs over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord, forever.

— Psalm 23 (NKJV)                                               

 

Jonathan Hopkins

workstaff Counselor

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This summer has been a summer of learning how much the Father truly loves us and wants us to rest. This idea was very present during a Kids Camp when I was placed as a counselor. It is sometimes difficult to complete one-on-ones during any camp, but when a counselor has eight kids in his cabin and two full days to complete those one-on-ones, it gets a little scary. This was the first time I was a counselor for a mini-camp and was stressing over how I was to get these meetings done. It scared me a whole lot not knowing if I would be able to complete all of them! On the second day, God spoke to me and told me to calm down, and He would allow everything to flow smoothly. Of course, this all came to pass, and the one-on-one that stuck with me was one that I was not even planning to do at that time. My team was at competitive games and there was one of my boys sitting on the benches alone. In my mind, I immediately thought, “God, I see you. It’s not about my timing; it’s about Your timing.” So I went over and talked to the young man and he accepted Christ into his heart! It is crazy how God works and how much He asks us to rest (Matthew 11:28-30). It’s only when we completely rely on Him and trust His will to be done that we can truly rest spiritually as well as physically. This principle was very much evident the rest of the summer and truly showed that the Lord is good!

Nic Joransen

tribe co-chief

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God constantly showed me how faithful and how good He is throughout this summer. One of these precious times was during our “LFR After Dark” program. God strengthened my faith while showing to the campers in my cabin that He is faithful, He is loving, and He is good! As a ministry partner, my part was to sit on a tarp in the big field and explain to the kids what the different stations they had just walked through meant, while their Counselor took them one by one to wash their feet and serve like Jesus served His disciples. After explaining all the stations to the kids, I told them about a time this past semester when I was feeling really alone. I went outside at 2 o’clock in the morning and told God, “I feel alone and I know you are good, show me” and immediately I saw a bright shooting star in the sky. After sharing this experience, God gave me an idea. I told the boys to all lay on their backs and look at the stars and then I prayed aloud “God we know you are good, and we know you are true, we want to see a taste of your goodness will you please give us a shooting star.” Then we waited and as we waited we talked about how God answers our prayers and how sometimes it’s not immediate but we know He is faithful to respond. Five minutes went by before we saw a shooting star but some of the boys didn’t see it and so I asked if we should pray for another one, they answered with an emphatic “yes!” So I prayed again and this time it took another five minutes before three of us saw a second shooting star. But still not all of them saw it and it really wasn’t that bright so I prayed for a third one. I asked God to make it bright and big so all the boys would point and ooh in wonder at the goodness of God. God definitely heard my prayer because fifteen minutes later as some clouds began to cover the stars in the sky a bright shooting star flung across the sky and all the boys pointed and oohed and at that moment, and from then on, I still get chills thinking about how much God cares for us and how attentive He is to our simplest requests.

Lauren Quigley

tribe leader

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This summer has been such an amazing experience and a time of growth in my spiritual relationship.  At the beginning of this summer, the plans for the future scared me and stressed me out; I honestly just felt so lost thinking about what would happen even a week after I would return home.  Through this, the Father began to replace my fear with peace. He gave this peace through others on staff and just resting in His Word. Through the positive attitudes of some of the tribe kids, the Father showed me that even when we are in the unknown, we still have the choice either to follow Him or to try to make it on our own. Thankfully, I have been realizing that our God truly has the absolute best plans for us and loves us too much to lead us astray, and we can just rest in that simple truth.

Autumn Adams

assistant wrangler

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This summer I have been able to serve the Lord in a new perspective than before. I was the assistant wrangler. It was something I have never done before, but the Lord has helped me gain a love for wrangling and finding small ways to connect with the campers.

Encouragement was a big thing I had to focus on. Campers may have needed just that little boost of confidence to hop on a horse for the first time. God also has guided me to love on the campers in a way that was different. Many kids would filter in and out of the barn. I was able to show them all the Lord’s love just through thoughtful conversations and having fun between trail rides. Some of the campers were in my cabin when I was a ministry partner, so I got to bond with them in a special way with my specific job.

Grace was also a huge thing for me this summer. I have been praying about this for months before I even got here or even got the job. When I arrived, signs of grace were everywhere. It was a couple of my campers’ names. Grace was the main focus of a Bible study. It also had a lot of meaning with my cabin partner when I was a ministry partner. I have been able to apply grace to so many different aspects of my job and in general.

God has shown me a lot of things working with the other wrangler. Being around her all the time taught me patience, love, and made me feel valued for who I am. God has blessed me with various things this summer.

Haley Power

tribe leader

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God has spoken to me in so many little ways this summer and it has been amazing to see Him use little seven and eight year old girls to reveal His love.  On one of the last few days of camp, the Tribe girls were painting canvases as part of their craft.  As I was painting mine, one girl had been watching and admiring it.  At first we both thought it looked pretty good, but the more stuff I added to it the worse it got so I ended up throwing it away because I didn’t like it.  The girl looked at me with her mouth open in shock and rushed over to the trash can.  She took the dirty painting out of the trash can, tucked it in her arms, and said “I don’t care what you think about it. I like it and I’m keeping it.”  She was genuinely upset that I would discard something so beautiful.  This sweet moment touched my heart because I thought it was such a cool picture of what God does with us.  The more we trash and hate ourselves, the more heartbroken our Father becomes because we are His most esteemed, most precious creation.  He took so much time forming every detail of us, declaring us His masterpiece.  And just as that little girl gave value to my painting by deciding it was worth digging out of the trash, Jesus also met us buried in our sin and shame and decided we were worth saving.  I am deeply known and loved by the One who made me and gave everything for me.  My Father knew I needed to see myself as He sees me and He is so faithful to provide.  I’m so thankful for God’s never-ending grace and His constant pursuit of me. 

Abbey Jacks

workstaff

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We serve a King so much bigger, yet so much closer than words could ever say. It has been a summer full of beauty and wonder and so much grace as we feasted on His goodness as the Body of Christ. One day while at workstaff Bible study, Mama Sandy said, “You know, it’s weird to think about, but many of you will be husbands and wives and mothers and fathers within the next 10 years.” In that moment, many of us were brought to tears at the exciting thought of getting to bring home our child for the first time to hold, nurture, teach, delight in, and be proud of. Think about how much more our ultimate Father; the Maker of the Heavens and our souls was leaping with excitement when He created us? How much more did He rejoice when we were adopted into our new eternal family and called one of His own? From before the beginning of time, He knew all of the plans He had for me. All of the things that would make me laugh until I cried, all of the sunsets I wouldn’t be able to look away from, all of the mountains in my life I would face and still stand my ground in victory, all of the beautiful souls I would cross paths with that would make the pain of loneliness feel as far as the east is from the west. All of the tears I would wipe from my eyes and the eyes of others. He knew by name all of the people that would see the beautiful soul He handcrafted for me and leave forever changed and more in love with Him. He doesn’t create anything without a purpose, especially not His own children. I got to  taste His heart of anticipation as He counted down the days until His daughter finally came home and He could wrap me so tightly in a blanket of His righteousness and holiness that would never be taken from me despite hell’s best efforts. How much more does He delight in us? How is all of the beauty and fullness we taste now only a glimpse of the depths of His heart for us? I heard a song this summer called “You Came.” Some of the lyrics are, “You stood outside my grave with tears still on Your face. I heard You say my name. My night was turned to day. YOU CAME.” What a testimony of the never-ending, patient love of our Rescuer. While listening to that song, God changed my perspective to hear Him singing the same words over me: “YOU CAME.” Never mind about the past. I cast your old self into the depths of the sea. You are forgiven and it is finished. It can’t be undone. I’m just glad you’re home. I’ve waited for so long.” So many beautiful people, beautiful moments, beautiful pieces of art in creation have taken my breath away time after time this summer.. While praising my Maker for how captivating He is, I heard Him say to me, “My dear, you take my breath away even more than I take yours away.” May we continue to sing the same songs of love over one another as they echo into eternity. I’m confident we will never see the end of His glory.

Emma Paramore

food service assistant

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Ministry still happens on Support Staff. I think a lie I believed for too long at the beginning of this summer was that because I didn’t have much hands-on, face-to-face interaction with the kids, I had no real impact on this ministry. The truth, however, is that ministry still happens—it just looks a little different.

Our impact is in the little things. It’s in the face of the gluten-free kid when she realizes you’ve made gluten-free brownies for her. It’s in the squeals of the campers when they see that you’ve put them in the same cabin as their friends when you were doing cabin assignments. It’s in the joy everyone gets from having videos and pictures to remember their time at camp, the way that worship is led, and the safety of knowing a camper’s life is well-protected while they’re at the pool. It’s in the way people show up for each other when our jobs get overwhelming and we need a helping hand. It’s in the flexibility of getting to take a counselor’s ropes shift because they have one-on-ones left to do or helping Workstaff sweep the Dining Hall after a meal so it takes half as long. We get to be the hands and feet of Jesus; it’s in our job descriptions. That’s the heart behind every task we do. That is what we’re here for.

Ministry still happens on Support Staff. It might not always be seen and it may seem small or mundane sometimes, but it’s an important work for the Kingdom. That’s a freedom worth walking in.

Payton Tanner

worship team

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This summer was one of the wildest summers in my life! From the beginning my prayer request was for God to take me out of my comfort zone. And wow! He’ll surely do it! When I first stepped foot here at LFR, I came in with a lot of fear that I wasn’t going to clique with the staff, so I set up a guard around myself. But the wall was torn down when literally everyone embraced me with open arms from the beginning. It was very overwhelming to experience the Father’s love and goodness so quickly during staff training. I also “took a Leap of Faith” being a part of ropes course training, which is a big deal being afraid of heights. My job this summer was a worship leader. Being a music major, I have mostly sung classically and have only ever led worship at my church twice. This summer I have learned by being with the worship team how to grow in confidence and grow as a leader. Throughout the summer, I have been able to use my classical voice in “LFR After Dark”, activating the campers sense of hearing to experience the goodness of the Father. God also gave me the opportunity to go to Guatemala for free last minute! There happened to be a free spot opened to go and there were two people on the waiting list. The day before I found out that I was going, I was talking to God and I said “If you want me to go on the trip, my answer is yes.” And the next day I received a message that I was able to go! While in Guatemala I was able to grow in compassion for others in a new way. During that trip I did things out of my comfort zone to show them the Father’s love. It has been so amazing to be a part of a ministry that leaves an eternal impact.

Hayley Kanagy

videographer

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I’ll admit when I came to Lake Forest Ranch this summer, I was incredibly prideful. I thought I could tackle the summer on my own strength. I prayed that I would learn to trust. Little did I know how much that would really mean. To be completely honest, I expected God to teach me how to trust Him when in reality He was teaching me to trust Him through others. I’m not a very vulnerable person so for me to trust people isn’t just me stepping out of my comfort zone, it’s more like back-flipping off a pier into an endless stormy sea with the enemy whispering lies in my ears. When I faced stress, I felt like I was drifting in a sea alone, but when I looked back, not only were people standing in the midst of everything, they were diving in with me and pulling me back to shore. I saw Christ moving through them with arms outstretched for me. It was a beautiful example of how Christ pursues us and wants to share in our suffering.

Claire Subat

food service assistant

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This summer I was given the opportunity to be a cabin partner for 4 of 12 camps.  Normally I live in the support staff cabin and never get to see the campers except for in the dining hall.  From the moment I found out I was given this opportunity I began praying for the girls that would walk into my cabin.  I prayed they would see themselves and the Father in a new light and that I would see MYSELF and the FATHER in a new light.

Student Camp 4, ten amazing, God fearing, young women walked into my cabin.  I knew in confidence that Jesus would do big things throughout that week.  The first night, the counselor in Cabin 2 led a devotion.  She read the story of Bartimeus where he asks in faith that Jesus would heal him.  Jesus responded with, “Go, your faith has healed you.”  Those words are words I’ve heard my whole life.  This story has been repeated time and time again but this time it all clicked.  I realized that I have that faith, I have that power to call things out and ask for things in the name of Jesus.

So from night one on, I began to declare healing over the hearts of those girls.  I began asking in full confidence that Jesus would reveal Himself fully to those girls.  Each night I saw these girls create a safe place among each other.  I saw walls broken down, I saw tears of joy, and conversations that were so Spirit led.  Night three is the night we call “LFR After Dark”.  Some call it “cry night.”  I remember sitting on the tarp with 10 girls, lost for words.  Earlier I was given a script by Papa Rich that explains the stations the girls had seen earlier that night.  Of course, I lost it about 15 minutes before I really needed it but I really think that was such a God thing.  Because I lost my script, the girls and I were able to just sit in vulnerability.  We were able to interact in a way that was grace-filled and so encouraging.  The night was long.  We talked about everything under the stars.  There was so much laughter, so many tears, and so many walls torn down.  Jesus revealed Himself so much throughout that week.  There was so much unity in our cabin.  There was so much freedom felt.  Words like: masterpiece, loved, chosen, and so many more were given to those girls.  I truly believe those words were spoken to Meg (the counselor) from the Father.  The girls clung to what they learned from that week.  I cling to what I learned.

Student Camp 4 and through the rest of this summer, Jesus has reminded me daily of the power in prayer.  I encourage everyone to read the story of Bartimeus.  The faith we have has power, the words we speak have power, and there is power in the name of Jesus.  Because everyone in Cabin 2 during Student Camp 4 prayed in full confidence knowing that the Father would do big things, Jesus fulfilled those requests and exceeded everything we expected.  In all, Jesus is so cool.  He knew the desire I had to meet campers in a new way, and He knew that Student Camp 4 was the camp He would use to fill that desire.  He knew the lessons I would learn and He knew the lessons those girls would learn.  The Father is so, so good.

Elizabeth Townsend

tribe leader

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As awesome as being a Tribe Leader was, one of my best memories happened outside of the Tribe. It was the last camp of the summer and I was helping with the interactive stations at “LFR After Dark”.  When every cabin came through I would pray for them by name.  My prayer was that when they felt the nails pressed against their palm, they would realize that they were experiencing a very small similarity to what Jesus went through for them.  Once the group was leaving my prayer changed to praying they never forget that feeling.  I did that with every group that came through and then I didn’t think much about it again after they left. 

The next night was bonfire testimony night and I was fully occupied with making sure the Tribe kids behaved during that time. Several kids mentioned how they loved it when we pressed the nails on their hand because it showed them what Jesus went through for them and how it changed their lives because they would never forget that.  By the end of the night I was almost to tears because of how wonderful God is and how He answers prayer in super amazing ways.

Tucker Ward

Assistant program coordinator

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I have been learning a lot about grace this summer. Specifically, I have been learning about the difference between the grace I give on my own, and the perfect grace that the Lord makes available to us. Grace is not running away from difficult situations or letting things just happen. His grace fully meets the needs of everyone that it touches and it provides true restoration. It has been a blessing that He has still chosen me to be in a position where I can see His grace work outside of where I fall short, but also that He has used me to give that grace away.

Raley Warner

Workstaff Counselor

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“Lord, give me wisdom.” Lake Forest Ranch changed my life. To say the staff, the kids, and more than anything, the love of the Father wrecked my shell, tore down the lies surrounding my heart, and renewed me in the depths of my soul, falls so short of the magnitude of what I’ve experienced this summer.  “Hallelujah, You have saved me, so much better this way, and hallelujah, great Defender, so much better Your way.  When I thought I lost one, You knew where I left one.”

Now I just needed that to preface my story because He is so good.  I am in awe of His compassion.  I was given the opportunity to be a counselor for the first time during Kids Camp E.  I will be honest with you by admitting I was very unsure and uncomfortable going into this experience.  Up until this part I had been serving on Workstaff and was loving it. The community was beautiful and I had grown comfortably fond of my place in it.  During this time, however, I began to pray that the Lord would cause me to be pushed out of my comfort zone and move me into a place of dependence on Him.  He did not let me down.  My first week as a counselor wore me out, wore me down, and required not only humility, but strength, patience, and anything else one could desire for effective leadership and wisdom.  None of these can be created by us, of course, and must instead be given by our loving Father.  How merciful He was to provide what I needed in the exact time I needed it.  Working here has completely given me a fresh / real understanding of His faithfulness.  Wow.  He is so faithful.

The night of “LFR After Dark” during that first week, I had the opportunity to walk with two of my campers as they made the best decision of their lives, and chose Jesus. I was blown away by the wisdom of words these little girls used as the Father touched their hearts and moved them the way only He can.  Being a part of that moment, so undeserving and unsure, was a testament to me of His kindness.  He gives us so much goodness, if only we would choose to see.

Being on staff this summer allowed me to see God’s goodness and magnificence in more ways than I can count.  “Overwhelmed, astounded, content, renewed and in awe,” is the closest I can come to explaining the gravity of what I hold in my heart. What will I remember?  Everything. “Oh magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together!”  Psalm 34:3

Noah Govero

Workstaff & food service assistant

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God has taught me how to listen and hear Him when He is talking to me.  I have never felt so confident that I could ask God a question and know that He is absolutely going to answer me.  For example, I was only supposed to work the first half of the summer as a volunteer.  During that time, I was slightly nervous about what I was going to do when I got home, specifically how I was going to make money to just pay for stuff.

I began to just pray that God would show me what He wanted me to do and that He would just give me faith that He would do so. God then opened the door for me to stay for an extra 2 weeks to be the groundskeeper after first half and I knew for sure that that is what God wanted me to do.  I have spent a lot of time praying for rest, and just knowing that I am doing exactly what God wants me to do, completely for His glory, to my absolute best ability, is the most restful experience that you can have.

While all of this has been happening, I have gotten an opportunity to work in the kitchen, which has become one of my favorite things to do this summer. So with our Food Service Director being sick, I was asked to be a cook for the rest of the summer, and there really was not a doubt in my mind that that is what God wanted me to do. Living completely for the will of God and not your own, and working wholeheartedly for the glory of God, letting Him use you, has been completely and totally restful This summer God taught me how to listen when He speaks, and how to live and love for Him.

Emily Malone

head lifeguard

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I had the opportunity to serve as a head lifeguard for the summer. I loved it and I had been praying that God would give me a clear picture of what my ministry looked like this summer. Prayer was a main theme of my summer and God made it clear that I had an important job at the pool and in staff community.

One day during a Kid’s Camp, Tucker (our APC), came up to me and asked if I could fill in at a 10-11 year old cabin for a counselor who was sick. I was thrilled. I had been a counselor the last two summers, and I really had been missing the position and ministry with the kids. My week with my new campers was full and sweet. I got to know each one individually and connect with them in the short time I was able to be with them during that camp. The most impactful night for me was “LFR After Dark”. One of the stations was a representation of how Jesus served the disciples by washing their feet. During this, we were supposed to wash all of our campers’ feet (if they allowed us to) and I did. It was so beautiful and moving for a lot of the girls in my cabin. At this point, the counselor that I subbed-in for was feeling better and was able to join us for all the “LFR After Dark” as our ministry partner. When I finished washing all the campers’ feet, I felt the Lord leading me to wash my ministry partner’s feet (the counselor for whom I’d filled in). This was such a clear leading in my spirit that I didn’t question it and followed where I felt that the Spirit was leading. It was a super sweet experience with my ministry partner, and she ended up washing my feet as well while our campers watched. When we walked back to the tarp, we saw two of our campers praying over each other and worshipping together, so unashamed. It made me weep. I felt the Holy Spirit working in those kids’ lives so much, and I felt as if I walked away from that week more impacted than anyone else.

Kyleigh Wilson

tribe leader

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At the beginning of the summer, I had all of these expectations of what being a tribe leader was going to be like. I do not know why I even came into the summer with expectations because I should have known that no matter how I wanted it to go, God had His own plan. I thought that being here for three weeks was going to be fun but restful. Little did I know that finding time to spend with the Lord was going to be challenging, and although being a tribe leader is so much fun, it is also exhausting. I think it took me all the way to the last camp to realize that I had to rely on God fully to be able to greatly impact these kids so that they could see God’s love through me. Being able to love the kids as God loves them was the absolute highlight of my summer. Though sometimes things might be hard and a kid may be testing my patience because they are just being a typical kid, in the end, it’s all worth it.

On the first full day of the last camp, one of my campers came to me and asked if we could have a one-on-one. Of course my answer was, “Yes, let’s go.” We went and sat on the dining hall porch, and she told me, “I sinned today.” I told her that we all sin every day because we’re all sinners. I got to talk to her a little about forgiveness before she ran off to tell her friend she was sorry for what she had done. This same night at Pow Wow there was an invitation, and she accepted Christ. You could tell that all throughout this day and week, she felt super convicted about what she had done, but she was super curious about the gospel. This week was by far the hardest because all of my girls had sassiness that got them into trouble, but at the end of the week, it was all worth it. On the last day of camp, this camper looked up at me with tears in her eyes and said, “Kyleigh, I don’t want to go home.” These kids might not understand why we tell them to “Be quiet” or “You can’t go over there,” but they do understand our love for them because we get to let God’s love shine through us.

Belinda Strauss

nanny

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This summer I was given the awesome opportunity of being the camp nanny. I so loved every minute that I got to spend with these precious camp kids. However, one week near the first half of the summer, I actually got to be a counselor for a week because of so many counselors getting sick. This week as a counselor meant so much to me. I had been a counselor previous summers at LFR and other camps for four summers of my life so being a camp counselor was something that I had done and something that I definitely missed getting to do. I never anticipated getting the opportunity to step into that role whatsoever. I had made my peace with not being a counselor again but I remember lamenting that I had just wished I would have known that my last cabin would have been my last. In such a beautiful turn of events, God allowed me that chance to have a “last cabin.” And I could not have asked for a more perfect camp or group of campers for my last hurrah as a camp counselor. I worshipped, laughed, and cried with the precious girls in my cabin and absolutely adored every moment of it. For me, it truly was a moment to “taste and see” just how GOOD God is! I absolutely felt lavished upon by the Father in that moment. But, the best part of the entire experience was actually once the campers left and I got to step back into my role as camp nanny. I had missed those sweet kids and their moms so much! I honestly feel that God gave me that week as just a sweet present to give me that last cabin but to also give me the assurance that He had put me in the role of nanny specifically. I would not trade my role for any other, and through His grace, I’ve been poured into by the camp moms and been so sweetly loved by the camp kids. Every day I get to wake up tasting and seeing just how good He is to me by the way that the year-round staff families love me.