Never Forget The Good: Celebrating Summer
In the Psalms, David prays, “Let all that I am praise the LORD; may I never forget the good things he does for me.” At Real Life, we never want to forget the amazing moments of life change we experience! Our summer was full of such moments, like this volunteer’s experience at VBX:
“I did not want to be a part of VBX. I was very content with where I was at in Real Life…life. But my wife, on her way out the door to a VBX planning meeting, gently prodded one more time, “Are you sure you don’t want to volunteer?”
“Okay fine, go ahead and have them plug me in somewhere…but only if they need it!”
I was hoping for a nice quiet job cutting construction paper or pouring juice or something. Instead, I was dubbed Cliff Hanger, one of the leaders of story time, where I got to dress like a spelunker and dance the conga and yell Bible verses with hordes of kids. What about my Sunday morning demeanor screamed, “Hey, here’s a guy that really wants to put himself out there!” I will never know. But it was good thing.
I got to be a part of something much greater than myself. I got to play a very small part in creating a safe and fun place for kids to learn about our God. I got to know a few pretty hip fellas. I got to learn Bible verses like I haven’t in years: “Our great power comes from God, not from ourselves.” II Corinthians 4:7 (I only had to double check the reference, I promise).
I never would have chosen to volunteer for VBX outright – but in retrospect, it is just what I needed in my relationship with Real Life and in my relationship with Christ.”
Not only did 300+ kids enjoy a week of learning about how much God loves them, our 100+ adult volunteers got to experience being used of God to change lives. There’s nothing better than that!
Later in the summer, more than 78 teens embarked on the annual youth retreat, along with 30 volunteers. Here’s one:
This summer, I was given the opportunity to be a counselor at Real Life Student Ministry’s annual Summer Youth Retreat. I feel so blessed to have witnessed what God had planned for that week. Those days were filled with laughter, games, making new friends, amazing worship time, life-changing messages, and powerful small groups.
Each day, we were led into God’s presence by the worship band. The students took it to the next level by crying out to Him with their voices. They were surrendering and praising Him with their whole bodies. God heard their cries and He moved in that tiny room. During our small group times, kids opened up their lives and shared their deepest fears with each other. Students were leaning on one another. They talked about their hopes and dreams for the future. God used the worship to touch the students, he used the messages to communicate His love to them, and he used the counselors and other students giving them someone to lean on. The students went home with lots of fun memories. But, more importantly, they came back with their lives forever changed!
How much did their lives change? Well, when we did baptisms at the river just this past weekend, almost all of the fourteen people who got baptized were teens from retreat!
And those are just two examples of how God moved in Real Life this summer. We also had dozens of school-age kids at our Brave girls’ and boys’ camps, and nine men enjoyed (or maybe endured?) a four-day hike through central Oregon. When fall arrived, our community donated a carful of school supplies to support our local classrooms. Relationships strengthened, friendships were formed, and people of all ages learned to lean into what God has for their lives. That’s a summer worth celebrating!