This is my workplace, at TWU -- only this weekend I'm here in my alter-ego capacity as speaker for the CCGC joint youth leadership retreat! Teaching math and computers is just my cover to protect my secret identity of preaching the gospel! :)
The CCGC kids are always so sweet and loving whenever they greet me; it's so heartwarming to see them! I credit all the love Auntie Doris (far right, in pink) has poured out on them over the years; she really has a mothering heart for those kids. The past two years, they've brought me to their annual youth tent camping trips to speak -- and it's real tent camping, no electricity, just gravel clearings and outhouses (though there are faucets with clean running water). The first year, I had to give my Sunday sermon twice, once in each tent, because it was pouring rain and all the kids were huddled in two leaky tents! Lots of fun! :)
This year, the weekend they'd selected for their tent camping trip, I had already been booked by ECBC's youth camp, so their camping trip was organized by a group of young people who came all the way from Texas to use this as their short-term missions trip. Pastor Lo still wanted a retreat with me in it, though, so he set up a special weekend of leadership training, only for baptized believers, only for those who after a full weekend of tent-camping fun still wanted more depth, more challenge, and more time with God.
These are kids who really have a heart to serve, who want to impact their youth group and their schools for God, and who want to grow closer to Christ. And it shows in their spirit and attitude! I found the atmosphere quite different from other, larger, camps where a significant fraction of kids are non-Christians or "nominal" Christians. Yes, they still got crazy silly insane sometimes, rolling 15 kids into a group hug, or abusing the Canadian national anthem in Mandarin, or switching lunchtime topics seamlessly between chucking woodchucks and Israeli-Palestinian relations and electron orbitals. If anything, I think they felt free to be even more silly, because there was this real family bond in Christ. But under it all is that unshakable kernel of faith, knowing that Jesus has called them to be living sacrifices for His glory, living lives transformed by the power of God. It was so powerful and heartwarming just to see the kids in the morning, spread out on the campus lawns, each one earnestly enjoying their personal devotion quiet time! Woo hoo! :)
Many kudos go to the U.S. team of four college kids -- Casey, C.T., Andy, and Sarah -- for really taking the teens under their wing these two months! This weekend's retreat was all organized by them, with small groups, games, singing, "GIG" (Growing in God) workshops, and more. I just dropped in for the three main messages; they did most of the real work! Oh, and Sarah (kneeling in front on the far left) had this great idea of putting in a whole week's worth of daily devotions into the retreat handbook, for the kids to do after they get home from camp! Great follow-up idea!