Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Requiem for an Adventure (part 1 of 2)

Alright. I'll say that this is a pretty overwhelming task I've set out to undertake. I want to write out something that can effectively bring my summer to a close. Three months would be a lot to summarize if I had stayed in Atlanta and gone through some form of normal routine, wherein I went to class and taught at the IRC and hung out with Young Life kids, and drank good beer with people that I love. But, I didn't do any of those things. I climbed mountains. So, here's what will be my best attempt at communicating what this adventurous chapter of my life was all about.
I'll start by saying that I was most overwhelmed with/impressed by the people. The college-aged kids that worked out at Ute Trail Ranch this summer were amazing; solid kids with beautiful hearts and a real desire to let Jesus use them to serve and communicate love with the people around them; wonderful people with whom I built relationships that will last.
Secondly will be the ministry itself. I came back with a mixed reaction to the work that I undertook this summer. Sky Ranch is a really Christian organization that does a good job of establishing through their camps a culture that serves to replace, to some degree, the "secular" culture that campers come from. I absolutely abhor this concept for several reasons. One, I believe that we are called as Christians to exist within the culture that surrounds us. We are also called to find our identity in Christ and not participate in the temptation of culture that pull us away from that core identity. But, as soon as we establish a Christian culture to replace the world, we are effectively taking ourselves out of it and shutting ourselves off to the opportunity to love the people that have no understanding of truth. We build walls around ourselves, and wait for those "non-Christians" to come to us. Which is exactly the opposite of what Jesus did in his ministry. It's safe and feels good to not have to interact with darkness nor face the darkness within ourselves. But how can we be effective witnesses if we are not walking alongside those that are lost? Pet peeve, really. That was one thing that I couldn't reconcile. As far as ministry that was done on trail, I usually operate with the understanding that kids need to hear the gospel and see it played out in front of them no matter who they are or where they come from. The program that I worked in did not operate under that same assumption. So, there were a few times when folks I worked with and for wanted to go deeper and deeper into faith and spiritual concepts, when the kids that we were leading on trail had never come face to face with their own need for a savior. There was one or two isolated incidents where we had to talk through some of that, but for the most part we (the other guides and I) adapted to each other and ministered effectively, which was huge. But, kids met Jesus on trail, and while the work that was done wasn't always what I thought was best, Christ is much bigger than me or my plans and expectations. And, he came through tremendously in the lives of the kids that came on trail. Stick around for part two.