The Gift of Presence
For nearly two weeks, those of us in the Saint Paul Area Synod have been blessed by the presence of ou[...]
I told myself I wouldn’t cry. As I sat at my very last campfire at Camp Wapo, in the midst of the community which I had come to define as my family, surrounded by God’s beautiful creation, singing songs of praise, I took a moment to reflect on the journey that was my three years at camp and the season of church work that was approaching for me. As I reflected, we began to sing a song called "Nothing I Hold Onto." The song is a call to lay aside everything we cling to for security and trust God and His will for us. And the tears began to fall. Just like trusting God’s will when I first started at Camp Wapo, trusting God’s will as I left Camp Wapo would be one of the hardest things I’d ever do.
I applied to work at Wapo after my second year of college, during a very difficult time in my life. I had spent most of the year holed up alone in my dorm room, my grades were dangerously low, I was reeling from the loss of my grandfather that winter and my mom 3 years before. Worst of all, I wasn’t relying on God. I stopped going to any sort of worship; I spent zero time in the Word or in prayer. I still believed in the existence of God, but I wasn’t willing to believe that God wanted to be in relationship with me and had a plan for my life. Applying to work at Wapo was less an act of faith and more so an act of making sure I wasn’t sitting around on the couch all summer. Going to work at a Bible Camp, I wasn’t even sure I could work with kids. But apparently God was sure.
At Wapo, I learned who God is and, through that, who I am. In this place of grace, I learned that brokenness was meant to be taken to the cross, not held inside, that God had a direction for my life, that I was gifted with the skill of leadership. I learned so much about having a hard work ethic, enjoying my work, and being creative in my work. Wapo changed the direction of my life. I became someone who was confident in his identity, who desired and sought after God. By any means, I didn’t leave Wapo as a perfect follower of God, but I did leave knowing that God’s love pursues me through my brokenness and through my stumbles. After one summer of working at Wapo, I walked away knowing that I was being called towards youth ministry. And now, after my third summer, I am finally ready to begin that calling.
I leave Wapo feeling thankful. Thankful that I got to be a part of such an intentional and Christ-centered community. Thankful for the lifelong friendships I have gained. Thankful for every moment of brokenness, healing, and love that occurred in this place. Thankful for how God changes hearts at Wapo and how God changed my heart.
I don’t know where I would be without Camp Wapo, but what I do know is that outdoor ministries is important to our mission as builders of the Kingdom of God. Through it, we are creating atmospheres where God is invited in and where God is at work.
About the Author - Andrew Kane recently began working as the Children and Household Ministry Innovator at Christ Lutheran Church in Blaine. He is a graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa.