Epworth Forest CC - That Thing - June 23-28 (2013)

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Event Photo Gallery

 

Event Journal

thursday

Evening Worship

The band kicked off worship with a powerful set.

Next the campers were asked to return to their seats and the end of the week video played.

Get the Video

Once that was shown, Ben came out and began his final discussion with the campers.  Ben explained how impatient he is and how he never likes waiting.  He took his family to Disney World recently and he was not happy waiting two and a half hours for a forty second ride on the Toy Story ride.  He always wants stuff now and on his timeline.  Sometimes he tries to pluck the fruit early and without doing the hard work.  Ben talks about how he becomes restless because god has called him to something, he is called to create a movement of disciples and plant churches on college campus’s everywhere.  He wants to see a change take place.  But sometimes Ben doesn’t want to wait, he wants God to work on his schedule, but God’s timing is different than ours.

God also gave Joseph a big dream.  Joseph is a kid when he receives his dream and he tells everyone about it.  But what Joseph had in competency, he lacked in character.  Ben sees this in kids all the time, they have gifts but aren’t sure how to use them.  We need to learn that what God wants to do through us, he will first do in us.  When Ben was younger he was so excited to be a pastor and he wanted to conquer the world.  He wanted to be the next Billy Graham Jr. but a bit cooler.  But in the bible, he learned we shouldn’t have selfish ambition.

The most important season of anyone’s life is what happens between the dream and the fulfillment of the dream.

Jesus doesn’t look for the most talented or the most gifted to do his works, all he looks for is a humble heart.  The disciples he chose were a great example of this.  He chose a bunch of misfits but they were misfits with big hearts and were willing to go any length for Him.  Ben tells us that if we want to live as Jesus lived, then we should walk as he walked.

It took Joseph 11 years to fulfill God’s dream, and that space between was the most important time in his life.  What happens in that space between the dream and the fulfillment really matters.  Most people quit and find the easy way out.  Ben’s church is in the middle of the ghetto and his church is the only one in the area.  This is because the space between was too much for anyone to successfully plant a church in the area.  They didn’t have what it took to get from the dream to the fulfillment.  People told Ben he should plant his church in a wealthier part of town, but that would have been the easy way out.  God doesn’t call us to do simple things.

We have to be able to say, “I can’t do it, but God can.”  If we do whatever GOd needs us to do, then the things of this Earth will grow.  God wants us to pray like crazy and praise his name, when times are perfect and when times are hard.  Ben admits that he has grown more in the last three years than he has the other thirty five years of his life.  God has a dream for the campers, and he will search the Earth for the humble hearts to fulfill those dreams.

Once Ben was finished, the worship band played late into the night celebrating the campers last night of camp.  They played every single song they had previously played this week and were even motivated to come back out for an encore song.  God has worked in the hearts of so many people this week, and now that camp is over, those hearts will go out across the world and spread God’s word.

Talent Show

An entire cabin performed Phillip Phillips’s song Home.

Morning Worship

Today’s session was lead by Pastor Allison from Auburn, IN.  She explained to the campers that we can worship God in many different ways.  Zaccheus climbed a tree to Worship and Moses took off his shoes to worship.  She then told the campers that today they would also be worshipping in many different ways this morning.  They were free to move around the auditorium to all of the different stations.

Here is a list of the stations provided:

Altar - Campers were given the opportunity for confession

**Couch **- Campers could rest and thing about God

**Fish Net **- Campers could place a paper fish into a net strung up on the wall representing them being caught by the net of Christ

**Ladder **- Campers could climb a large ladder and get a “fresh perspective”

Door - Campers could cheer and knock on the door to praise God.  Then they could walk through it if they choose to be a disciple of Christ

**Sidewalk Chalk **- Campers could praise God by creating art on the cement floor of the auditorium

Cups - Campers could use a cup with holes and dip a cup into a pitcher, then use a cup without holes and dip it into another pitcher.  This helped campers recognize how much more abundantly God gives than us

Row Boat - Campers could sit in boat and give their fears and worries to God, then step out of the boat in the midst of a storm and focus their eyes on Him

**Reflection Cards **- Campers filled out reflection cards that were commitments that they made

Communion - Campers could take in Christ’s body and blood, and remember Christ through communion

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A camper expresses herself through sidewalk chalk during morning worship.

Last Full Day

Campers head to their morning growth groups.

wednesday-thursday

Evening Worship

Tonight’s worship started with an interactive set by the worship band.

Ben jumped into his discussion right away.  He told the campers to look in their bibles at John 15.

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunesso that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.  If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.  If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.
For plants to grow fruit they must be cut back.  Ben explains that after three or so years, they are ready to be harvested for fruit.  Give your life to God and let him shape you and teach you.  If you stay close to him he will turn you into a beautiful tree that will change the world. If you are a disciple, then your life will bear fruit.  Whether that’s being involved in ministry, mission trips, discipleship and sharing your religion, whatever it may be.
Next Ben talked about a vision that has stuck with him all day.  He was sitting in on a growth group in the morning and one of the growth groups leaders described a vision she had.  She would keep getting a picture of a young woman who was wrapped up in many many chains. The woman feels helpless and hopeless with all of these chains on.  But then she realizes that none of the chains are locked and they could be shed from her and pulled away at any moment.  But she doesn’t remove the chains because she has become accustomed to them, and close to them.  Campers may be carrying chains of their own with them and the locks aren’t locked because Jesus has unlocked everything for us.  All we must do is realize that Jesus can pull our chains off as long as we are willing to live the life that he wants us to live.
Ben discusses how most of us just sit in the pews at church, and are comfortable and never take chances.  When we are out of our “camp” and comfort zones we must rely on more than ourselves.  We should walk to the edge of our faith and say, “Father, I’m taking the next step and I pray you will be there.”  Ben begins talking about airports and all the wonderful things they have at the airport.  But he has never once said to his wife, “Honey, I’m going to the airport to hang out.”  That is because the airport wasn’t designed as a place for us to go and stay, it’s a waiting area before we leave and are off to somewhere new.  It’s the place at the edge of our faith, the place where we decide to be disciples and take that next step.  And others are there with us to encourage us.  In [Isaiah 50: 4](https://www.youversion.com/bible/111/isa.50.niv) it says He wakens my ear to listen.  Waken and say father I want to remain in you.
Next, bowls of grapes were passed through the auditorium and each camper took a grape and had a moment to pray about their lives.  They had the chance to reflect on their lives and think about if they are bearing the fruit of the Lord.
### Synchronized Swimming

Campers and counselors choreographed an impressive routine of synchronized swimming.

3 on 3 Basketball Tournament

So much for clear skies, these campers are making it rain on the basketball court!

X-treme Tug of War

Campers handily win their match during X-treme Tug of War.

Morning Worship

The worship band kicked the morning off with some powerful songs that the campers connected with.

Next, our Program Manager and Keynote Speaker for the day, Nate Haywood, took the stage.  Nate began by introducing himself to the campers and talked for a little bit about his wonderful family.  He then spoke about his dog that recently passed away.  The dog broke its back and lost control of most of its balance and bladder control.  After much discussion, Nate and his wife decided that it would be best if they put the dog to sleep.  It was one of the hardest things he has ever had to do.

The morning of the last day with their dog, Nate cooked up a nice big steak for her to eat.  He cut it up for her and fed her bite by bite a nice medium rare slice of beef.  He got to the vet’s office and they let them into the room where they were to put his dog down.  Nate held his dog and started talking to her for the last time. She has been a part of Nate’s family longer than his kids have even been alive so she is definitely considered a part of their household. Then they injected the drugs and Nate’s dog slowly fell asleep.  At this point Nate admits that he was in a mess of tears and as he turned to leave, he didn’t realize the door was open the entire time, and there were about six people in the waiting room all hugging their dogs tightly saying, “you’ll go to heaven too.”  Definitely put a smile on Nate’s face.

Then, Nate shared another story from earlier on in his life when he received his first car from his dad.  He got a nice souped up car and one night he was over at his girlfriends too long and had to rush home to make it back for his curfew.   He thought he was invincible at that time so he was going 70 mph in a zone with a limit of 25.  On the last turn of a very curvy stretch of road, his car tail slammed into the ditch line then barrel rolled seven times before landing 300 yards away.  While he was flipping he gripped the wheel and cried out, “JESUS HELP ME!”  Nate walked away from the wreckage without a single scratch.  The storm could have been worse but it wasn’t.

Nate brings up the story of Jesus in Matthew 14.

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to the other side, while he dismissed the crowd. After he had dismissed them, he went up on a mountainside by himself to pray. Later that night, he was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it.  Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake.  When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear.  But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”  “Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.”  “Come,”he said.  Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.  But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!”  Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,”he said, “why did you doubt?”  And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down.  Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”

Jesus is that calm and hope that we need at times.  Nate explains that all of us have a storm in our life, and all we have to do is call out to God and he will be there.  God is our hope.  Prior to worship session, there were boats placed outside the auditorium, and Nate was going to invite them to go out and sit in the boat and pray about the storms they are going through, but due to poor weather they used the side stages as the boats.  Campers were eager to go up and stand on the stage and pray quietly to themselves about their storms and why they needed God’s hope.  Then, just as Peter got out of the boat and left the storm behind, they left the stage, left their storm behind, and can now live in His glory.
[![tuesday-wednesday](http://res.cloudinary.com/impact-2818/image/upload/v1423287288/tuesday-wednesday_ng0o3i.png)](http://res.cloudinary.com/impact-2818/image/upload/v1423287288/tuesday-wednesday_ng0o3i.png)

Evening Worship

The band kicked off worship with an amazing set of songs.

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Campers sang their hearts out during worship.

The campers were so responsive to the band, and had the spirit moving through them so much that Nate, our camp director, came on stage and told the band that they could come back out and do a few more songs.  The campers were overjoyed and the voices of praise were lifted up to God for a few more songs.

Ben took the stage and started his discussion.  He told the campers that if our goal is to be like Christ, then we must always seek the kingdom first and give to the kingdom first.  Jesus never questioned what God told him to do and always went where God called him.  In the hardest of times, Jesus listened to God and followed him.  When Jesus’s closest friends turned on him and abandoned him, he still sought the kingdom first.  Ben asked, “Why is it so hard for us to seek first the kingdom?”  If we want to grow we must die to ourselves.  The Lord speaks to all of us, and for some his words are instantly snuffed out.  But for others, we hear him and even though we try to follow his word, our roots are too shallow and the temptations and distractions overcome us and we give in and give up.  So we tend to get in that cycle.

Ben heard about an African tribe, and there are two sides to the tribe’s camp.  Every boy from ages 0 to 13 live on the one side with their mothers.  On the other side, the men of the tribe live.  And they are responsible for hunting and fishing and protecting the camp.  The same time every year, the men of the tribe run over to the women and children’s side of camp and they take all of the 13 year olds, pull them out of camp, and then they beat and circumcise them.

Once this is done, they are required to live for 6 months outside of the camp.  They send them out into the world and wilderness with absolutely nothing.  And as they leave, a few go this way, a couple others go the other way, and they split up.  After a while, they realize they need each other to survive and when the bell finally rings six months later, the boys always return home together, as one big group.  Then they have a week of celebration and partying.  They have a huge spread of food and the boys tell stories of what they went through out on their own.  This then leads to the older men recounting the time when they were thirteen and out in the wild.  They always say after being away for six months and finally returning home, “We have returned home and are brothers for life.”  It’s so amazing that after living on the same side of camp for thirteen years and nothing happening, they are out for only six months and they return brothers for life.
Ben described that our lives are a lot like boats tied to the dock.  As you start to untie the boat from the dock, the boat wants to push away and drift onto the lake.  But there is usually one rope that is holding back the boat, and that relates to us and how we usually have something that is holding us back from our true potential of being a disciple of God.  We have something that holds us back from our calling.  Ben ended the session with a prayer, and he asked God to help reveal to us what it is that is holding us back from our calling.  He asked God to give us the strength to break us from that rope and let us spend our lives truly fulfilling our calling.
Due to a power outage, the band came back out and performed an acoustic set and the Lord’s spirit was truly present in the auditorium.

#TwitterlessKevin

TwitterlessKevin

These t-shirts are trending on Epworth Forest.

Escape From The Island

Participants of the *Escape from the Island *activity receive their flag as they paddle back to the beach house.

The Shade

Campers took to the dodgeball battlefield this afternoon!

Morning Worship

The band started off the worship session by introducing a new game to the campers.  It is almost identical to *Rock. Paper. Scissors. *but their version was called *Gorilla. Man. Net.  *The campers really had fun with it.

Then today’s keynote speaker took the stage.  His name is Scott Greene and he had a powerful message for the campers today.  Scott started by talking a little bit about his family.  He enjoys reading stories from the bible to his kids because they always make the bible stories their own.  He then began to share a bible story with the campers.

In 1Kings 17 there is a story about a man named Elijah.  Elijah was one of God’s prophets and he lived in a land ruled by a horrible king named Ahab.

Then the word of the Lordcame to Elijah: “Leave here, turn eastward and hide in the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan. You will drink from the brook, and I have directed the ravens to supply you with food there.”  So he did what the Lord had told him. He went to the Kerith Ravine, east of the Jordan, and stayed there. The ravens brought him bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening, and he drank from the brook.

Then there was a drought in the land, but Elijah didn’t make it rain because God hadn’t told him to make it rain yet.  The water in the brook slowly diminished until Elijah was left with nothing to drink.  Scott then introduced everyone to the world water crisis.  4,000 children die every day from lack of clean water.  Then he played a video showing footage of Africa and how the people there are desperate for clean water.  It was emotional for all of the campers watching it.  Then Scott went back to the story of Elijah and told us how Elijah finally went to a mountain and climbed to the very top of it and prayed out to God.  Elijah poured everything he had into praying to God for rain.  A servant was sent down six times to check if it was raining and six times he returned with bad news.  But on the seventh time, the servant returned and reported to Elijah that there was a small cloud that formed, the size of a hand.  After a little while the sky became dark with clouds and it began to rain.  The rain made up for three and a half years of no rain.
Scott began talking about the world water crisis again and how they have organizations that help build clean water wells for those in need.  Next he invited a camper named Chelsea up on stage with a few of her friends.  He described to the other campers that Chelsea heard him talk about the world water crisis last year and when she went home she took the initiative to raise money to have a well built.  Scott proudly announced that Chelsea raised $5,000 dollars and that money was used to build a well for the residents of Sierra Leone Africa.  He then cued a video to play.  The video was from the locals of Sierra Leone who are benefiting from Chelsea’s well and it had all of the kids singing for joy and thanks that they no longer had to fear for clean water ever again.  There wasn’t a dry eye in the auditorium.  It was undeniably powerful to see God’s work through Chelsea on the smiles of those Africans who now have the blessing of clean water.
If you are interested in learning more about making a difference in the lives of others we share this beautiful Earth with, feel free to visit [Let Them LOL](http://www.ltlol.com/) and do your part to help end the world water crisis.
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Today’s Events

[![monday-tuesday](http://res.cloudinary.com/impact-2818/image/upload/v1423287304/monday-tuesday_aoe3ss.png)](http://res.cloudinary.com/impact-2818/image/upload/v1423287304/monday-tuesday_aoe3ss.png)

Evening Worship

The session tonight started with playing the audio of Paul Harvey speaking about how God Made A Farmer.

Next the worship band took the stage and rocked out to some awesome songs.

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Campers lift their hands on high during the worship band’s set.

This summer’s program manager, Nate Haywood, then took the stage and introduced the idea of Christ growing in us.  He then physically planted a seed in a pot on stage and described the process a seed goes through to actually grow and produce fruit.  The seed goes through a process called germination where it actually dies in order to then grow and become a full grown plant.

Then a summer staff member named Travis led the campers in prayer.

Jesus, I give you sole authority in my life.  I recognize that I am nothing without you, and that you alone can make me whole.  Jesus, I have heard your truth, and I refuse to run from it any longer.  I want you to have complete influence in my life.  Fill me with the Holy Spirit and mark me with a seal, because I believe in you, and I am choosing to follow you.

Ben took the stage and began his discussion “You Can Be A Disciple”.

He started by talking about how sometimes we can find ourselves breezing through life and missing moments that God presents us.  Ben told everyone how he moved from the suburb to the inner city in Louisville to start his new church.  There was this man in his neighborhood who he said hello to everyday but the man never responded more than a head nod.  Then Ben got to talking to him one day and found out a little more about his life and some of the unholy things happening in his life.  But this didn’t stop Ben from volunteering to help him out with some projects around the house that he needed to get done.  Then Ben didn’t see him for a while until one day when he came running up to him.  The man explained to Ben how his sister recently died and then he broke out in tears as he expressed to Ben,”My life’s a mess.”

Then Ben started to see him in the back of church, arriving late and leaving early so Ben was never able to catch him to talk.  Then one day after church he approached Ben and told him he decided he wanted to take Jesus into his life.  So Ben took him to a fountain on the Louisville campus and baptized him there.  A few months later, the judge in Louisville gave Ben a phone call and thanked him for what he has done with this young man.  He said, “Whatever you’re doing, it’s working.”  God takes the little moments, and he makes them into something holy.

He then read from John 12

He explains that if we want to grow, first we must die to ourselves.  Ben sees God in people who are giving and sacrificing for others.  He then spoke some hard truth and told the campers that they are from a selfish generation.  Many people live their lives for themselves and not God, and it’s rare to see someone willing to die for Christ.  Ben said he would be happy that after his life is over, he can successfully say that he made disciples.  The seeds he is planting will eventually grow and spark interest in others to plant the seed of Jesus throughout the world.  A hundred years from now our great great grandchildren won’t even remember our names, but there is one name that they will still be talking about and praising and living their lives for.  In dying to ourselves we decide to live for something greater.  We can define a disciple by asking, “What would my life look like if Jesus lived it?”  Our lives should tell the story of God.

Ben then presented the campers with the opportunity to take Jesus into their lives.  They could come forward and grab a piece of paper and pencil and write on the paper, “Jesus I have been…” and then finish the rest.  Then write, “But I want to be…”  Then they would fold the paper and shut it with a stamped seal.  This was a wonderful opportunity for the campers to show that they are willing to give Him everything and show that they want to give their lives to Jesus.

Tube Time

Campers zoomed around Lake Webster during their session of tubing this afternoon.

Dirty Mudder

Campers competed in the Dirty Mudder events including the Swamp Thing Competition

Morning Worship

The band kicked things off with a song called *Brother Sister Friend. * The campers were taught motions that go with the song and they all enjoyed participating while the band played faster and faster.  The campers struggled to keep their motions up with the pace of the song as laughter filled the auditorium.  Then the band jumped into a powerful set.

After that, Ben took the stage and began his discussion “If I’m Afraid, I’m Not Alive”.

He described to the campers how he is a bit of a hotel dweller.  He said the Lord made air conditioning and posturepedic beds for a reason.  Ben never understood people who like to hunt and fish and why they get up at the crack of dawn.  As a kid, Ben asked his Grandfather why he gets up so early to hunt and his grandfather replied,”If you hunt during the day, the animals are sleeping.”  Ben’s response was, “Wouldn’t that make things easier?”  If the animal is laying down for a nap, shouldn’t that make shooting them easier?  He then began discussing fears we have of nature.  People are afraid of spiders, snakes, and things like that.  Ben talked about how when you think about it, those are silly fears but he also has some real fears, especially when it comes to his children.  He is always scared his kids might get hurt, especially around large bodies of water.  His daughter Claire loves to swim, but the only problem is she doesn’t know how to yet.  So whenever she is around water she loves jumping in.  Ben told everyone he has jumped in fully clothed many times and has ruined plenty of cell phones.

He also shared some of the fears he has with his church that he is the Pastor for on the University of Louisville campus.  His church is made up of 75% college kids.  He worries about their safety, he worries about having enough funds to keep the church up.  Ben took a survey when he got to Louisville and asked the students, “What’s the biggest reason you don’t live out your faith?”  Out of everyone surveyed, 90% of them said they were afraid.  Ben brought up the garden he spoke about yesterday and he explained that before that garden could grow, he had to teach them to not fear.

Ben then read from Mark 5

It’s the story of Jairus and his sick daughter.  Jairus took his daughter to many doctors and they all said there was nothing they could do to save her.  He didn’t know what else to do, so he went to Jesus for help.  This was a great risk for Jairus because he was a synagogue leader and at that time most religious leaders were against Jesus.  Ben then described how Jesus is always looking for a humble heart.  He turns away from the proud and gives grace to the humble.  The father falls to Jesus’s feet and asks him to come save his daughter who is on her death bed.

He did not let anyone follow him except Peter, James and John the brother of James.  When they came to the home of the synagogue leader, Jesus saw a commotion, with people crying and wailing loudly.  He went in and said to them, “Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep.”  But they laughed at him.  After he put them all out, he took the child’s father and mother and the disciples who were with him, and went in where the child was.  He took her by the hand and said to her, “Talitha koum!”(which means “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).

Ben connected this story from the bible to a story from his life.  He was leading a revival down in Panama City Beach during spring break and there was a great crowd of young people praising the Lord and giving all they had up to him.  Then when Ben walked outside, he saw a parade of cars full of people being unholy and drunk and not living for God.  This reminded Ben of a funeral procession because it was car after car after car, slowly driving down the road participating in all the nonsense associated with spring break.  Many people would look at this and say that this generation was dead, but Ben looked back at the celebration inside and he thought to himself, “This generation isn’t dead, they’re just asleep.”  We shouldn’t be afraid to live out our faith because others will follow.  The presence of God drives out fear.  God is saying to us all, “My child, get up.”

Ben shared another story about his daughter Claire. It was a Saturday night and Ben was preparing for his sermon for the next day.  Claire wasn’t sleeping well and she was building tents in her room and singing songs.  She continued to do this well into the night and finally Ben walked into her room and said, “Claire, why are you still up?  You have to go to sleep.”  She responded, “Daddy, I’m just a little scared, and when I’m scared I just need you.”  Sometimes we are just like Claire, we just need to go to our Father.  Ben reiterated, the presence of our Father drives out fear.

Mirrors were placed all around the auditorium, and Ben urged the campers to get up and go to one of those mirrors.  Grab a marker and write on the mirror what they fear the most.  Not silly fears like spiders and snakes, but what is it that stops you from being the person God wants you to be?

Growth Groups

Campers participate in some ice-breakers to begin this week’s Growth Groups.

First Full Day

[![sunday-monday](http://res.cloudinary.com/impact-2818/image/upload/v1423287299/sunday-monday_ihgjwu.png)](http://res.cloudinary.com/impact-2818/image/upload/v1423287299/sunday-monday_ihgjwu.png)

First Worship Experience

Tonight’s worship session began with an amazing video that got all of the campers excited for the start of That Thing and the theme “Come Alive”.

The band rocked the stage and had all of the campers out of their seats.

Ben, this week’s keynote speaker, took the stage once the worship band’s electric set was over.  He introduced himself to everyone and talked a bit about his family back home in Louisville. Ben was excited to tell all of the campers about his three beautiful children Cole, Caden, and Claire.  After sharing some humorous anecdotes of his two sons, he explained how his daughter Claire became a part of his family.  Two years ago they adopted Claire from Ethiopia.  She was in an orphanage since she was two weeks old and had no men in her life until Ben and his wife adopted her two years later.  So in the beginning it was hard because Claire would cry whenever Ben’s wife would leave the room because Claire was terrified of Ben.  Ben described how passionate he was to just make her happy around her, he was ready to host a tea party with her or get Care Bears, whatever it took.  Bedtime became Ben and Claire’s time, he would read her a story and talk with her.  Every night he would tell her he had a secret, would lean in to her ear, leave a pause, Claire would giggle, then he would whisper, “I love you so much Claire.”   And Claire would do the same, tell Ben she had a secret too, lean in to his ear, leave a pause, Claire would giggle again, then she would whisper, “I love mommy.”   And this went on night after night for six months.  Then one night Ben told her, “I love you so much Claire and I’m going to always keep pouring it into you until you believe it.”  And Claire responded, “I love you too daddy.”  Ben was so excited in that moment!  He explained to the campers that this is how God is towards us.  He continues to pour his love upon us, and will as long as it takes until we believe it.

He then read from the bible Isaiah 5

I will sing for the one I love a song about his vineyard: My loved one had a vineyard on a fertile hillside.  He dug it up and cleared it of stones and planted it with the choicest vines.  He built a watchtower in it and cut out a winepress as well.  Then he looked for a crop of good grapes, but it yielded only bad fruit.

He expressed to the campers how privileged we all are to be here, having the freedom to gather and praise Jesus without the threat of persecution.  Some people in this world do not have that luxury but as we look around in our world today, there are so many great opportunities, but nobody is producing “fruit”.  Ben then revealed a statistic that 70% of people walk away from faith between the ages of 18 and 25.  Some days Ben walks around the campus in Louisville and just sees a dead garden.  There is a student religious center on campus that has a garden on top.  Back in the begininning it was a beautiful garden, but over the years it has gone to waste and is now nothing but beds of weeds and infertile soil.  Ben explained how he will go up to the top of the student religious center and pray to God to help revive this garden and the campus as a whole.  God has the power to bring the dead to life.

Next, Ben shared a story of a young man who got arrested when he held up a convenience store.  He served three years in prison, and he explained to Ben that on his first day of prison, he was so scared of what to expect.  He walked into his cell and the first thing his cell mate did was say, “I’m going to teach you about the Lord our Father, and I don’t care if you like it or not.”  That young man chose the Lord as his Savior, and once he was out of prison he lived his life for God.  He helped bring people from his new church into the halfway house each week to cook or discuss the bible.  That young man met a girl at church and they are going to get married.  He confessed,”Some of you think everything around us is dead, but God can bring it back to life, because I was dead, and I am alive again.”

Ben, speaking about God, tells the campers that apart from Him we can do nothing.  When it comes to our relationship with God, we will get what we put in.  We can choose to be comfortable and go through the motions but that won’t result in change.  This week he wants to see a bunch of students come alive in Christ.  He encourages them to ask the question *Is my life making a difference to anybody?  *Ben confesses that many of us are much like that garden, we feel dead.  Simply tell God,”Lord I don’t know what you have for me but I’m open and willing to engage and come alive.”  When the campers start being bold and living with passion, it will be irresistible.  When we live out the gospel, it’s irresistible.  When you see Jesus’s love lived out, you just want to join.

Lastly, Ben invited all of the adult leaders to the front of the stage and told the campers that if they want to humble themselves before the Lord, they are free to come up and approach an adult leader who will pray with them.  And as the band played some slow music, camper after camper after camper got up and went to the front of the auditorium and prayed with one another.  A truly powerful moment to start off our beautiful week here at That Thing.

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Leaders pray over students during the first worship experience of camp.

Happy Campers

Mc Kendree

The Mc Kendree Lodge campers are moved in and excited to begin their life changing adventures at Epworth Forest.

The Fun Has Begun

Move In Day!

Campers are excited to move in to their new homes here at Epworth Forest for That Thing 2013.

sunday-up

Almost There

It’s almost time for camp to begin! Check back soon for all of the exciting adventures!