I was not a summer camper as a kid. But I wish I was.
I first heard about Camp Barakel when I was a student at Columbia Bible College in South Carolina. A friend and fellow Michigander invited me to come up and counsel there for the summer between my sophomore and junior year. Having worked 3rd shift at a factory in Grand Rapids the previous summer, helped me to say “yes” without knowing much of what I was getting into.
I learned so much about sacrificial ministry that first summer, the second summer, the third summer, and even the fourth summer. And that first summer I also met this amazing young lady named Linda. We went up for the fourth summer as husband and wife.
I admit that having met my wife at Camp Barakel makes me a bit biased toward enthusiasm for that ministry. But there is more to it than mere nostalgia and reliving my younger days. Barakel has been a place of spiritual formation for me, but not only for me.
So many over the years have been blessed by connection with God there on that property. There is something about the beauty of the place, the simplicity of the programming, the focus on the Word through chapel times, and the full-time staff that model sacrifice through raising support to work there that all combine to make it a place primed with spiritual vibrancy.
For the first two weeks of July, Linda and I and two of our kids were able to volunteer at camp. I worked in the kitchen feeding people for both weeks, Linda was a camp nurse for both weeks, and my kids did a combination of camping, and volunteering as support staff. It was such a great chance to serve together as a family and to take part in giving back to a place that has invested so much in us over the years.
I needed the time away from my routines. I would not call it a restful time as I worked in the kitchen most of the day and then led the study time for the teen volunteers in the evenings. But sometimes what I need is just a time away from the frenetic pace of ministry life as a lead pastor.
I have no major agenda in this blog, other than to commend to you a heart of giving something back. So many ministries are strapped for volunteers as we climb up out of this pandemic. Maybe take a moment to consider places or ministries that have been used by God in your history, and then consider if there is some way you can give back something in gratitude. Camp Barakel has been near and dear to my heart over the years. Where is that place for you?