“Just think, we get to be with Christians all the time.” I said, somewhat in awe. “Imagine, us being called to full time Christian service as Home Missionaries.”
It was late spring when we left our home of twenty-two years and all that was familiar and comfortable.
Our vehicles were filled with all our earthly possessions, a dog and a cat. My husband led our caravan in the rental truck. I followed close behind with my poodle and a girlfriend . Bringing up the rear was our teenage son in the pickup, accompanied by his cat.
We were headed across the state to the mountains and our Conference Camp. My husband was to be the new Director of Maintenance.
Upon our arrival, most of our belongings were place in storage, while our son joined those in Staff housing. We took up residence in a two-room apartment below the Conference office with the two animals.
We hit camp and our new life running!
The overseers had prepared us that our time in camp would be 24/7. Many of the buildings were old and required constant upkeep. Our worship, our fellowship would have to take place on grounds…at least till late fall.
My husband and our son were occupied most of the time with their responsibilities. But I had time to miss our past life and them as well. God was about to teach us about true fellowship, the larger body of Christ and how to worship in unlikely places.
We attended Sunday Service and evening Chapel with the campers. We had guest Pastors who geared their messages to the age of the campers. Our songs of worship were of a camp nature…a long way from choral anthems and Halleluiah Chorus’. But what was lacking in formality was covered by youthful zeal. Especially meaningful were the campfire services, with guitars and words of testimony.
There were days when I missed Christian broadcasting. The surrounding mountains blocked many signals. When I was most desperate, I found a radio station from a local Christian college that broadcasted several hours a day. I was exceeding grateful to hear the name of Jesus and the Word lifted up, even if it wasn’t from the major stations and famous teachers.
When we could attend Church, it was such a privilege, it didn’t much matter what denomination. Consequently, we met brothers and sisters in Christ from many persuasions and had sweet fellowship.
Even within the camp, we came to appreciate the larger body of Christ. When Conference wasn’t using the facilities, other Christian groups would rent for a week. One year a Greek Conference occupied the space. They came with their senior citizens and their babies. They came from New England and Greece.
Another time, we had church a Manhattan Church bring the Hispanic branch of their church to camp. As with the Greek Church, we shared their meals and ate their menu. Together, we offered up pre-meal prayers and said the ‘Amen’s’.
Because we were somewhat isolated from the outside community, we were included in the retreats and parties of the Conference Pastors and their wives. Our times with them were very special and even eye opening! I remember the night an opening session was beginning and a harried couple came whipping through the doors.
“It’s all her fault.” He stated, obviously perturbed. “You didn’t give me the right map.” She retorted. They surely had been having a difference of opinion.
Over our times together we came to see them as normal people, rather than spiritual giants. As with all growing Christians, they sought to serve the Lord, love their families, cares for those around them and to acknowledge and correct their flaws.
With the coming of our first winter, we were facing a people ministry devoid of people. Two families alone on
145 acres of land surrounded by mountains. Our last group of volunteers, who had come to help close down the camp, were preparing to leave. In a last effort to minister to us, they gathered on our front lawn and sang Christmas Carols to us.
Tears filled our eyes. We had experience fellowship in ways we had never known. We had learned that the sweetness of its blessings was not confined to any one group or building. We had experienced need that only the people of God could address. This last act of love reassured us that we would soon be involved with others who named the name of Jesus.
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