Special Needs Camp Day 5

It’s Friday already? With the end of the week comes the end of our time at camp and I feel it came too soon. I honestly didn’t want to leave (although I am grateful to leave the mosquitoes behind). Thank you family and friends for all your prayers this past week and for those of you who came to help with setting up and taking down the tents. The staff from Grace Community Church enthusiastically expressed their gratitude for this small service, so do know that all of your support is greatly appreciated.

The special needs camp is named Camp Grace and indeed grace was abundant here. We came alongside the GCC staff to help in whatever ways we could, but found ourselves being served even more generously. I wanted to encourage the staff and campers this week, and encouraging conversations we did have, but I was deeply moved and ministered to by their testimonies of God’s grace in their lives. Communication was admittedly difficult with some of the campers. There was time set aside for the staff to meet one-on-one with the campers to discuss the midday message. My camper was chatty, excited for the chance to tell me stories about her sister who was with her at camp, as well as about many other family members and friends. Things got even more difficult when she’d switch to talking in fast Cantonese to me after I sputtered out a few words during one of our talks. I felt I had met my match and struggled to redirect our conversations back to the message. I didn’t know if she was truly responding to our discussions about the characteristics of God. But one thing I was able to come away with was that she was incredibly joyful about an answered prayer for healing. She knew Jesus had answered her prayer and she was so happy to share that with me. Just one of many reminders of God’s grace that He cares for us.

Last night as we were wrapping up the day with a staff meeting, Pastor Rick invited the campers to stay with us and he opened us up in a time of corporate prayer. The first one to pray was a camper with Down syndrome and significant speech impairment. He prayed for a solid couple minutes. His mom told us later he was praying for everyone in the camp and for everything that we had done that day. Following him, many other campers eagerly lifted up their prayers leaving no moments of silence in between. I couldn’t help but be reminded of this verse from Psalm 8 which was preached on earlier in the week.

“O Lord, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!

You have set your glory above the heavens.

Out of the mouth of babies and infants,

you have established strength”

Our speaker, Pastor Matt, said from this verse that God chooses to show his strength through the weak things of this world. The campers might not have full mental or physical capacities, but God is glorified by them. Their simple faith expressed joyously is a testament to that.

Please continue to pray for the campers and staff as they travel back down. They stopped over in Solvang today and are staying overnight there in a church pastored by the brother of one of the GCC staff (!). Pray for all of us, campers and staff, that what we’ve experienced and learned during this camp would permanently change us to love God more, and to love His people more, especially the least among us.