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.