Autumn at Forest Home brings so many beautiful things we can only experience this time of year, like caramel colored leaves and still lake waters. But what I always look forward to most is something you can’t actually see. It can be found in the heart of all the staff, in the lives of the campers, and in the journals of Pastors.
Stories of Transformation are nothing new to Forest Home. Since 1938 when we first started hosting camps here, God has been changing people’s lives one by one. From Billy Graham’s historical pledge to God at a tree stump in 1949 to the thousands of people who made spiritual commitments this summer, their journeys are nothing short of amazing. This summer, Forest Home hosted over 10,000 campers in just 10 weeks with the hope that they would Encounter Jesus, Experience Transformation, and Engage the World!
One of my favorite stories of transformation from this summer took place at Creekside, where we were full to the brim every week. A youth pastor who was new to his position brought up 80 junior high students. Frustrated, lacking confidence, and close to quitting, this pastor arrived at camp in desperate need of hope and encouragement. After days of constantly redirecting his rowdy bunch of campers, he took time to connect with our Director of Junior High Ministries, Joe Barsha. This young leader shared his heart with Joe, and all of the pent up frustration poured out along with somber tears. As he spoke with Joe, he noticed in the distance a group of his campers assembling. He quickly went to assess the situation and as he watched, these rambunctious boys, one by one, grabbed hold of each other’s hands. And in a moment that seemed surreal, all 40 campers took turns praying aloud for all God had done and was doing. They prayed for the new believers in their group, for each other’s struggles, and even for their pastor. It was in that moment this young pastor realized that his ministry was worth every effort and every struggle. He was able to reap the fruit of sowing a camp experience for his youth group, and he saw firsthand that camp matters and God changes lives at camp!
Seeing the beauty of fall is always something I look forward to, because of all it represents. But what I love most of all is reflecting on all the wonderful things God has done in this place. Today we praise the Lord for the 1,000+ people who made the decision to follow Jesus this summer and the countless others who grew in relationship with him. We praise God for His continued provision and the resources He provides daily to this ministry. We serve an awesome God!