Gravel crunched under the tires as I pulled up the driveway to Five Mile Lake Camp. Trees rustled in a breeze and sunlight danced in beams across the green sward. I pulled up to an old lodge. A sign out front read: “ Check-in.” This day was the first day of camp. Many young lives were converging for a week of fun, a week away from home, and for some a week with perhaps an all-transforming choice.
As I chatted with and greeted many campers the same hope for each of them was alive inside me. The hope that they would come to know Jesus as their Savior. Hope that they would come face-to-face with truth and choose, at the crossroads, belief in Jesus and turn away from separation.
The campers were gathered together at the outdoor amphitheater to meet the staff of the camp, volunteers in the kitchen, hear the rules of camp, and get the schedule for the week. Laughter was the chief sound in the air among murmurings of young voices. The week had begun.
After dinner I headed to the cabin where I was to stay for the week with the same prayer I have before each camp, “Here again, Lord. Another message. Another opportunity to present the Gospel. Help me do well…”
Day 1…Day 2…Day 3…Day 4…
The final night had arrived. Many conversations. Many moments of laughter. Many prayers. The Gospel had been clearly presented. As I wrapped up the last bit of the message I looked over the faces of so many young people. Some faces with tears. Some faces in hands. Some faces bent over the shoulder of another.
In my heart I cried out to the Lord, “ Lord, I hope many respond with belief.”
Many began to filter out to their cabins. Some remained. On one bench a young girl in heaving sobs trying to talk to those around her, but only managing pitiable sounds of heartache. Another young girl walks up to me and says she has a friend who wasn’t able to come to camp. She wants her friend to know Jesus. After finishing my conversation with her I gathered up my Bible and journal to head to the cabin. I notice a group of staff gathered around one camper who was smiling with tears in his eyes.
This particular camper had met with me a number of times over the week telling me story after story. He had painted a picture of pain, confusion, and hopelessness. Now I see him smiling—beaming with joy. He looked at me and said “I’m born again, Zach.” He knew what it meant. We had talked about a man named Nicodemus who had a conversation with Jesus. In that conversation Jesus cuts right to the heart of the issue at hand.
“…Do not marvel that I tell you, ‘you must be born again’…” ( John 3:7 )
Like Nicodemus this camper knew he needed to be born again.
Weeks had gone by.
My phone rings.
Answering I hear a man’s voice say, “Is this Zach who was camp speaker at Five Mile Lake…”
He continued, “…My son came to know Jesus at camp that week…Thank you…He asked me to call you. He has a question. Would you baptize him at the lake?”
This was amazing!
After a few weeks of phone calls, meeting with this young person and his dad it was all planned out.
He invited a few of his friends to be there. He wanted the same thing for them, that they too would be born again.
Gravel crunched as bare feet walked toward the lake. A breeze tossed the water gently upon the shore. Rays of light danced across the root-beer colored water. This young person wanted his friends and family to know that a new Cole had been born again a few weeks back at camp. As family and friends looked on I baptized Cole. As they watched him go into the water and come back up. Such a powerful picture of the transformation that happened to Cole. He was, indeed, born again.