Monday, November 28, 2011

No One Left Behind

With Winter Camp fast approaching, I've been pondering our long-term policy that with anything we do, we don't let anyone not participate because they can't afford it.  We don't have a lot of expensive events.  Most never top $5.  But Winter Camp is about $135 for a four-day, three-night experience and SICM in May can run over $500 for 9 days in Washington State.  These are expensive trips, but as I look back over the years I realize that they are the two most impacting times of our calendar year.  There's something about getting away from our regular routines for a few days to study and pray, worship and play, and build deeper relationships.  Students that go into these times lonely come out with friends; students that go into these times wavering come out having made solid decisions.  Emotional camp experiences aren't our goal, but when added on top of months of one-on-one and small group Bible study, mentoring, and relationships, these times away can engage students' hearts in a way that is hard to do in one hour in the middle of a busy school week.

And so back to our policy--we don't want anyone to stay home because of money.  And the Lord always provides richly!  It reminds me of 2 Corinthians 8:13-14, "Our desire is not that others might be relieved while you are hard pressed, but that there might be equality. At the present time your plenty will supply what they need, so that in turn their plenty will supply what you need. The goal is equality."  I always tell students who allow someone else to pay for them to make a commitment to pay for someone, somewhere to go to camp in the future (not necessarily through FOCUS).  The result has been more than I expected, as is usually the case with our God!  Some students who received such a scholarship once now pay for someone to go every year.  A couple years ago, we paid in full for a sophomore who had recently committed her life to Christ to go to SICM--a few hundred dollars.  She was so impacted by that trip that the next year (her junior year), she got a part-time job on campus and wrote me a check for the full amount to pay for a freshman to make the same trip.  A couple of weeks ago, one of the girls approached me and said her family just didn't have any money to pay for camp because things were really tight right now.  I was blessed to get to tell her, "no problem!"  Literally within 10 minutes a grad student approached me and said he wanted to pay for an extra student to go.  Last week I had a community college student say he couldn't even afford the $5 for pizza at our Pizza Theology event.  About 30 minutes later, a sophomore told me he wanted to scholarship 4 or 5 people for Winter Camp!  An alumnus who we have helped attend events before just paid for a student to attend Winter Camp and told me to let him know when more events come up.  These young disciples are learning, as the Philippian church did, to share in "the matter of giving and receiving" (Phil 4:15).  

Christ has truly brought us a better way, a different way to live within our culture.  My prayer is that these students will take this willingness to invest in the spiritual life of their brothers and sisters out into their families and churches and workplaces in the decades to come.  This is exciting stuff!  

In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I'd also like to say thank you for all the many ways that each of you has blessed my life and ministry.  Reaching universities for the Lord is a community effort, and I feel so blessed that He has put each one of you in my life and let me be some small part of yours.

Last year's Winter Camp crew.  We're expecting even more students this January!
If you'd like to help pay for a student to go to camp (in part or in full), feel free to contact me.

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