YIM servant asks God for a challenge… and gets it

If I was not sure before this summer that God answers prayer, I am now a firm believer. I prayed desperately that God would challenge me as I participated in Youth in Mission (YIM) as part of the New York Camp Teconic team.

After my first few days I was not sure I God had listened to my prayer. I was even a little uncertain as to if he had a plan for any of my team, especially since our first official day o site was spent sucking bugs out of light fixtures. Three weeks into the summer, I was still wondering, "Okay, God, were you not listening? Where is the challenge?"

If I had only known what was going to happen during the next three weeks, I probably would have prayed a different prayer.

Senior high camp began the fourth week. The first day of camp I hiked up into the woods with my campers to the three sided shelters we called home for the week. In my shelter were four girls, three of who had never been to camp or out in nature. One of them was so afraid of bugs that she cried for the first ten minutes.

That night I had to check each girl's bed to make sure there were no creatures crawling around.

We finally got settled into our beds. The cold had already made itself at home in my sleeping bag. I curled up into a little ball and tried to shiver myself to sleep, but then the snoring began.

Two of my girls took turns blasting my eardrums with the most horrendous snoring I have ever heard. It was continuous all night long, and to make matters worse, I had this great pressure building in my bladder and there was not a bathroom anywhere in sight.

I spent the night chattering prayers that the sun would come up soon.

At the first glimmer of dawn I made my way down the hill. I was thrilled to get to the bathroom before the rest of the campers so I could enjoy a nice, long, hot shower with no interruptions. It was going to be heaven after the previous night.

Sadly, my dream was shattered when I discovered that there was no hot water. I inched my already frozen body into the icy water and had a great awakening. Day one, the challenges had begun!

The next few weeks, through senior high and two kids' camps, my faith, patience, love, and every other fruit of the spirit were challenged beyond recognition. There were days when I seriously felt like I was on the edge of losing my sanity.

Dealing with teens who had babies back home, who were into drugs, who were raising six younger siblings, who were in foster care and whose social workers brought them to camp was not easy. Neither was breaking up fist fights between nine-year-olds, trying to love eight attention-starved little girls all at the same time and still making sure each one showered, brushed her teeth, changed her underwear every day and made it to every scheduled event from morning to night.

Do not even ask about trying to get them all in to bed.

The weeks were filled with laughter, tears, lots of hugs and incredible spiritual moments. The girls I worked with this summer live the kinds of lives most of us have never believed to be true. I found myself in over my head.

Many times I wanted to quit, but in those moments I found that my Heavenly Father gave me the strength to continue and the ability to love. Each day was filled with his presence. I knew his hand was upon me, and I became completely dependent on him to make it through the challenge. My days did not become easier, but there was such comfort and peace knowing that I was not caring for those girls on my own.

Now, since returning home from YIM, I have spent time reflecting on my summer. I know now that Jesus heard my prayers and answered them in his own timing and gave in abundance what I asked of him, but being the loving father that he is he did not stop there.

He challenged me, yes, but he also showed me his faithfulness and the steadiness of his hand upon my heart and life, and upon the lives of those precious girls, and he allowed me to play a part in the building of his kingdom. It was one of the most rewarding summers of my life. I will never forget it because I know it changed me.

It is true that you reap what you sow, and when you give for the kingdom you always receive. Although what you receive may not be what is expected, that is the chance one takes when following Christ.

YIM challenged us to "live dangerously," allowing God to lead us out of our comfort zones and accepting the challenges he placed before us. God allowed me to "live dangerously" this summer, and I pray it is a path I will continue to follow. The road is not easy, but it is exciting.