We had a phenomenal time at our church’s Family Camp, held at the Old Oak Ranch in Sonora, CA. About 250 people registered, plus a number of families who came on Saturday and Sunday.
It’s hard to quantify things in numbers. Even the eight baptisms we had, for which I, as the English-language evangelism director, am doing cartwheels, tells only part of the story. Families were restored. Relationships were built. Impromptu Bible studies were held for people who had questions. Overtaxed families and screaming children had a blast as they got away from the grind of life in Stockton.
It’s tempting as a Christian to speaking in well-meaning but vague platitudes about how “God moved strongly in our midst, touching hearts.” For my readers who aren’t Christian or who don’t identify with a religion, one of the most amazing aspects of corporate worship is to arrive at point when God indeed begins to pour out his Spirit. It is common to see people shout, jump, weep and sing. To the outsider, it seems chaotic. But there is a divine order.
Following the joyful services on Saturday and Sunday, the tone of Monday’s communion service (held on a Monday because it was the last day of camp) started off exuberant and settled into a quiet, reverential but loving atmosphere as people took communion and remembered the sacrifice of Jesus.
What I found most endearing is that our church allows those who aren’t baptized members to partake in communion. There were people there who, according to the traditions of our common upbringing, would have been shunned a generation ago, for coming to a communion service in shorts, in flip flops, with lip piercings. But I rejoice in the knowledge that my church’s operating principle is:
We love Jesus, Jesus loves you, so we love you
At the close of the service, people cried, hugged each other and went out of their way to hug those who we don’t really know that well.
I’ve never been to a church event where I felt so much acceptance, both for myself and for the complete newcomers.
We called my parents and a dear old childhood friend of mine and begged them to come next year. It’s difficult for my parents because it’s also the same weekend as our newly formed family reunion. As dear as my family is to me, I couldn’t imagine missing this.