The Kingdom of heaven is like a merchant seeking beautiful pearls, who, when he found one pearl of great price, went and sold all he had and bought it. Matthew 13:46 NKJV
One summer, I volunteered 2 weeks as councillor at a youth camp for boys ages 8 to 12. I packed my camping gear, kissed my wife, Rita goodbye. Off I was to camp Wicatackanu. I was the first to arrive. I put my camping gear in Cottage #4 and went off exploring my new surroundings.
This was a new challenge for me and I was quite eager to succeed. But, before I could do any ministering, I needed quality prayer time before the Father. I sat on the edge of the wooden dock with my legs and feet dangling into the water. Soon, I began to pour my thoughts, plans and ideas before the Lord.
"Paul." A gentle voice spoke . "Do you love your wife?"
Without hesitation I answered, "Yes."
"Paul do you love me?" The voice questioned.
I simply said. "Yes, Lord I love you,"
"Paul." The voice continued. "If things would change, for the worst. If your plans do not work out. Will you still follow me?"
"Yes, Lord I will follow you. I boldly established my intent.
I was alone in this wondrous encounter except for the sound of water lapping against the wooden dock. I couldn't help but feel a little like the apostle Peter and wondered why God had asked me these questions.
There had been an error. A note on my sleeping bag read.
Pastor Paul: I took the liberty of moving your camping gear to cottage #5. All councillors are to meet in the 'Great Hall'. There will be refreshments and sandwiches. Thank you. Ron Jenkins Administrator.
Fifteen youth pastors from various Church organizations had volunteered their time to this summer project. The goal of this program was to provide alternative structures, with the hopes of enabling these youth away from the influences of the street, drugs and gangs. The program was well thought through and many disciplines were in place. Since many had not heard about God and probably never attended Church. We had to be discrete about the 'God stuff'. As Pastors, our goal was to cultivate a lasting friendship and guide them in making wise choices. Creating an environment where they would feel safe to share their feelings; with the possibility of being mentors in their future years.
Seventy-five noisy young boys came rolling up in the bus that day ready to tear the world apart. They came rushing into the 'Great Hall' rowdy and undisciplined. The administrator, Ron assigned five boys for each councillor. All meals were served in the 'Great Hall'. To keep us all busy, each day there were a schedule camp activities. At night we would retire to our cottages.
The boys in my cottage were the worst. They spat in my face. The slapped, punched me and kicked my shins and groin. They would not listen. I found it very difficult to exist, never mind any sort of discipline. Made fun of my Christian values. Out of ignorance they cursed God. The first night I crawled into bed with a snake in my sleeping bag. One night, they put toads. Another creepy crawlers. Every day they would discuss new plans and find a another way to mock me.
But, each night I had my own stratagem. Instead of being hurtful, negative and angry. I went to my knees in prayer. At early dawn, I would rise quietly and make my way down to the dock. My heart's cry was simple. "Lord teach me to love these boys. Please pour your agape love into my heart. Thank you."
On the last day, when we were packing up our gear to leave the five boys gathered around me to ask one question.
"Pastor Paul." The leader of the group spoke. "We don't understand? When we were mean and disrespectful and rude to you. You never got angry. You listened and responded to us in love?" "We want you to know, we are so, not use to this. We only know how to respond to negativity, anger, swearing and beatings,"
All I know for sure is God's amazing love. He knew their value and worth and with great price He bought them.
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