I’m Jason Carle, and I volunteer as a director at Heartland Center for a week each year. I come out here because this is a place where I first began to hear a call to ministry in my life. It is a place where I have seen and experience the movement of God’s Spirit in profound ways. This week has been no different, so I want to give you two snapshots of what this week has been like.
Your children have been awesome. I have seen how these young people who were, for the most part, strangers to each other form bonds of friendship. Yesterday we had challenge course. I was so proud to see the kids, dangling 30 feet in the air (attached safely to harnesses of course) encouraging each other that they could do the challenge they had chosen to try. But the event that was gospel-filled was that when one of the youth came to the realization that they really didn’t want to do a particular challenge was that the support didn’t stop. “It’s okay,” I heard one camper say to the other. “I couldn’t do it my first time either. You’ll be back. And you’ll get it next time.”
Last night, gathered around a table on the porch at Pete’s Cabin we held vespers, our evening worship time. We talked about some of Jesus’ most challenging teachings in Matthew 5 in the Sermon on the Mount: how Jesus calls us to love not just our friends but our enemies, how Jesus calls us to live lives that are not shaped by anxiety, but by simply being focused on how we are living in God’s presence today. Then, together we were reminded that Jesus calls us to be the salt of the earth, and the light of the world. Together we sang the words to this simple hymn:
“Come, bring your burdens to God, Come, bring your burdens to God, Come, bring your burdens to God, For Jesus will never say no.”
As we sang together and the echoes of our song drifted through the trees I was reminded once again, how good this place is, how God does wonderful work in this place, and how grateful I am that you sent your children to this place.