Reaching out Through Summer Camps

By Ryan Dawson

Children matter to Jesus!  There was a time during His ministry on earth that some parents brought their children to Jesus so He could bless them.  The disciples, taking their cues from their culture, deemed that children were not worthy of Jesus’ time and energy, so they shooed the children and their parents away.  Jesus was not impressed.  We read about this account in Matthew’s Gospel:  

One day some parents brought their children to Jesus so he could lay his hands on them and pray for them. But the disciples scolded the parents for bothering him.14 But Jesus said, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of Heaven belongs to those who are like these children.” 15 And he placed his hands on their heads and blessed them before he left.  Matthew 19:13-14 (NLT)

Clearly, we see that children matter to Jesus!  We want to follow in the footsteps of Jesus so as a church we look for opportunities to bless children and help them experience the love and goodness of God.  We are a church committed to reaching families with the Gospel of Jesus and we live in a region where 25% of the population is under 19, and this demographic is ever growing, so there is a great need for strategies that can engage the next generation.

One of the ways we do this is through our summer camp ministry.  This week we have over 80 children attending our Kingdom Keepers camp, in addition to 10 youth troop leaders.  We also have over 50 registered for our Athletes in Action Multi-sport camp running at Ottawa Christian School July 31-August 4.  There are many reasons why these initiatives help us accomplish our vision and mission as a church.  Here are a few…

Camps reach unchurched families.  People who don’t profess a faith, are often willing to send their kids to a camp because they know it will be a positive and fun environment that will help their children grow.  Many of the children connected to our camps have been invited by Sequoia families from the community, so it exciting to see God opening doors.  We are trusting that the Lord will cause these seeds to grow in these young hearts, so we see whole families transformed by the love and grace of God.

Camps help develop young leaders.  It has been amazing to see so many youths from our church serving and leading in our camps.  This opportunity helps them grow in confidence and leadership skills, as they work with the children.  It also gives them a good opportunity to serve alongside adults who love Jesus, creating a healthy cross-generational experience.

Camps provide great opportunities for the broader church to engage and serve.   We have seen so many people giving time and energy to serve and lead at these camps.  I marvel at how people take time off work and rearrange their schedules so they can invest in the next generation.  A big “shout out” to everyone who has given of themselves to ensure these precious children can meet Jesus through these camps.  You are amazing and we thank God for you!  

Camps are holistic and show how Jesus is relevant to everyday life.  Jesus wants us to experience Him 24/7 and through every aspect of our lives.  There is no secular – sacred divide in life, as all of life can be lived unto God.  Sequoia's vision statement is to help thousands of people experience the Kingdom of Jesus together, wherever we live, work, play, and go.  Through camps we can literally experience Jesus as we “play.”  

Camps are fun!  
Camps offer fun—it really is their product.  There is so much joy in a week of camp and you can’t help but feel it when you witness these young ones filled with wonder & elation as they learn and grow.  Too many times the local church is seen as stale or disconnected from the community; fun is an amazing bridge to build incredible connections with people.  Fun is also disarming, which makes it a strategic tool that helps all people, regardless of their background, become willing to lean in and learn more about Jesus.  

God uses camps for His good purposes.  Please be praying for all those engaged to experience the fullness of life that comes from Jesus Christ.

Blessings, Ryan

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