“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans of hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
October 1, 2016 was supposed to be my wedding day. On June 6, 2016 my fiancé and I ended our relationship. Not only was every aspect of my life changed, but the future I had planned for so long was suddenly gone. Among the darkness of an overwhelming sense of uncertainty, there was a small faint light at the end of the tunnel and that light was Camp Judson.
Growing up I always imagined being a counselor at camp. Judson was a major role in shaping my faith and my relationship with God, what better place to work than that? Poor Kevin Saxton, Emily O’Malley and other staff members had tried getting me on staff since I was 20. But I always made excuses as to why I couldn’t work there: I wanted to spend my summer’s home from college with my mom, seeing my friends or making more money at other jobs, the list went on and on.
The real reason I never worked at camp was because my walk with God had never been easy and I always seemed to fall victim to my sins. Basically, I didn’t think I was a good enough Christian. Looking back at my memories as a camper, my counselors, the life guards and other staff members seemed like perfect followers of Christ and I didn’t dare compete with them.
The summer of 2016 at the age of 24 I joined the staff not as a counselor but as head indoor CSP – and I came broken. I was washed up from an unequally yoked relationship, far from the person I wanted to be and was the last person you’d want leading kids to Christ.
I spent my first few weeks sobbing into the showers I was scrubbing and moping around the insanely hot dish room. Instead of sneaking into the air conditioned pantry like others did, I’d sneak outside the dining hall to cry.
Among all the crying, I also fasted. For 40 days I fasted during breakfast and sat on the small deck of the dining hall overlooking the lake and spent time with God. Sometimes I prayed, other times I journaled, but often I just sat in God’s presence. What I didn’t know then but realize now, was that ever so slowly I was un-quenching the Holy Spirit and allowing Him to awake within me.
As God gently began to heal my heart, the Spirit moved in those around me. One particular hard day in the dish room I broke down in front of my team of young teenagers. They encouraged me to leave and the one sixteen-year-old girl on staff comforted me outside. She told me she loved me, God loved me and instructed me to go and that they’d finish everything.
Before I took the last minute position, two very capable individuals held the position. However in their remarkable discernment, the one declined the offer while the other backed out of it due to a change in plans. The two individuals ended up volunteering all summer long and I’m so blessed and grateful I got to work alongside them this summer.
A 20-year-old senior counselor also wormed her way into my heart by squirting me with pot shot, tackling me any chance she got and allowing me to cry on her shoulder on the days when the pain was too much. Although she’d never admit it, she says she’s lucky to have me as a role model – but I can tell you I learned quite a lot from her.
I doubt campers ever had a clue of what I was going through and I learned a very valuable lesson, there are no perfect followers of Christ and those who were on staff when I was a camper were dealing with their own battles – I just never knew.
Towards the end of summer, I had completely surrendered to God. This was the scariest yet most satisfying thing I have ever done and continue to do daily. I’m so grateful to all of the staff, volunteers and directors for being so patient and loving towards me, whether it harmless fun of trying to toss me in the pond or a word of encouragement through the dish room window, it all meant more to me than you you’ll ever know.
I came to camp to begin the healing process but I received so much more than I ever could’ve imagined.
-By Lisa Conner