Answering The Call
Tennessee Missions Trip!
Serving at Lighthouse Christian Camp.
Right after Thanksgiving, the NBI students had the opportunity to go on a short-term missions service trip to Smithville, Tennessee. We served at Lighthouse Christian camp, just outside of Smithville. Our main objective was to help them prepare for their annual girls’ Christmas party. Lighthouse Christian Camp is not your average Christian camp. They run summer camps only for students who could not otherwise afford to come to camp. The ministry is solely run on generous donations from individuals and churches in order to function. Every year, young girls and boys come to camp from broken homes and hear the Gospel for the first time. Loving on these kids is hard. Their own parents abandoned some of them, some were abused, and others’ parents are drug addicts. The stories you hear from the staff are heartbreaking and make you want to scream out for instant justice. Our job was to show these students Christ’s love through Christmas.
During the entire year, numerous Godly people donate gifts for this party. A majority of the gifts are brand new and awesome. They have a “store” where the students are given fake money, and the students can buy some of the real gifts. They encourage the children to buy clothes. A majority of them really just want to get something for their families. We arrived on Saturday night. I could tell everyone was beat from the twelve-hour drive as they were in a van all day. Due to the respect of Sabbath, we didn’t work the next day, but instead, we went to a local church and met many of the wonderful volunteers who would be helping us on Saturday to throw the Christmas party. Monday morning came early: 6:30 a.m. for breakfast, and then we split into three teams. Team One was going to the gym to organize and make gift baskets for the children. Team Two was building a fence from the entrance of the camp, about two hundred yards down, to keep cows from crossing the road and causing problems. Team Three, a great group of men who are professional carpenters, was going to fix the outdoor chapel and complete various other smaller tasks. All of the NBI female students went to the gym, while all of us guys went to build the fence, and the carpenters all worked on the other jobs.
The week went fast. It was long and hard, but the weather was beautiful and God’s providence was clearly with us. Then, Saturday arrived, the day of the party, and our 200 brothers and sisters in Christ all came together with us to bring these four hundred young girls a great time. They had four stations for the girls. One of them was the Gospel presented through the Christmas story, another was lunch, another ‘shopping’ at the store, and finally, singing Christmas carols. The day was described by a former staff person as “organized chaos,” which it was, but it was also a true blessing to see these girls talk about how they were getting stuff for their baby sister and moms, and shoes for themselves. A very generous person gave all of the girls hoodies to wear, and many of them have never had a hoodie in their lives. It was incredible to see them at the beginning of the day looking shy and sleepy, compared to the end of the day just looking so happy and excited. I was very proud of the work accomplished that week. I was also impressed that so many people answered the call to go and serve.
“Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” John 21:20-22”’
In this passage from Scripture, you see that Peter does the classic thing we do whenever God asks us to do something. We push the spotlight off us and onto anything, or anyone else. We say things like “God will send someone else, someone more qualified, a pastor or someone.” Then we walk right past an opportunity to work in the Kingdom. We forfeit our blessing due to fear, doubt, and lack of trust in God. Then we ask God why He is doing more in other people’s lives and not ours. Let me be clear: Jesus isn’t saying “Follow Me and life will be good.” He is saying that following Him will be worth it, and that it will show us more of who He is. This trip was hard; it was exhausting, and it cost all of us something different--time, money, and missing out on making memories with our families. But we felt the call to go, to follow Christ’s example of servanthood--to put our message of God’s love in action and not just talk.