What Happened After The 'Lights Out' Bell
Sounds of chirping crickets suddenly ceased. A piercing wail in the dark brought every camper in the cabin instantly wide-eyed awake.
Moments before, the clanging bell had announced "lights out." Whispered giggles and good-nights had faded as the girls sank into sleep. Now, as the lights snapped on in the cabin next door, many jumped from their bunks to crowd the windows to see what might be wrong.
The light from the open door exposed a form, sprawled on the steps leading to the near cabin.
"Did she trip, coming back from the shower house?"
"Look! There's blood. She's bleeding...."
"She isn't ...dead, is she?"
"Probably just fainted, or knocked herself out."
Connie took notice. Something didn't register. The girl in question was still dressed and not in her night clothes. Somehow, she had missed bed check. Curiosity aroused, Connie slipped outside and headed next door.
"Somebody needs to get the nurse."
"Susan's already after her."
"Is she breathing?"
"Yes, but where's all this blood coming from?
Susan and the nurse, both in bathrobes and curlers, came running, flashlight bobbing through the dark. The nurse immediately took charge. She sent someone after a sheet to use as a litter, while she both checked over the injured girl and tried to rouse her.
As consciousness returned, the girl's wailing cry began again, and grew louder. Connie felt the hair on the back of her neck rise. Several campers now clustered close behind the camp counsellors, whispering among themselves what had happened.
Car lights swung into view up the trail. The crunch of twigs under tires announced the arrival of more help. Soon, with the aid of the pastor and the youth leader, the girl and the nurse were loaded in the back seat. There was nothing more to do but wonder, and get a bucket of water and the broom to clean the blood off the steps.
"Who was it?" the hushed questioning began.
"Jennie Franklin. Somebody said she tried to skip out and meet her boyfriend."
"Is he here at camp, too?"
"No, his folks have a place up the beach. She left campfire before the final song."
"I heard her mumbling something about being chased. So she was running in the woods. In the pitch dark. Dumb, if you ask me."
"Do you suppose she ran right into the barbed wire fence on the boundary?"
"I didn't know about the fence..."
"Yep. I heard about it when someone was worried that wild animals in the woods might get into camp."
"That must be what happened. Amazing that she could find her way back to the cabin."
"She might have actually died out there in the woods."
"Come, girls." Grace, the senior counsellor from another cabin, gathered the campers together. "Let's have a couple moments of prayer for Jennie's well-being."
After several prayers had been offered, Grace began:
"Tonight, we've had an illustration of the church in action. Jennie's experience is a picture of someone gone lost in the world. She probably didn't know if she were being chased by a bear, or by someone from the security detail. In her panic, it appears she ran smack into the barbed wire meant for her protection."
All eyes were on Grace as she continued. "We know God gave the law to Moses for our protection, just like the fence. When we break the law we get hurt, so we soon learn to appreciate this gift. You could say the security people are like our pastors and leaders. They also watch out for our welfare, to help keep us from harm.
"But, when all of you gathered 'round, alerted by Jennie's cry, in sending Susan for the nurse, and helping to meet other needs on Jennie's behalf, you demonstrated the work of the church. We sing the song at campfire, 'Rescue the perishing, care for the dying.' That is what we are all about. We aren't called to pass judgment on the lost and the wounded. By God's power, we do everything we can to rescue and care and provide a welcome into God's kingdom.
"As we live the Christian life, as you all witnessed tonight, we are following in Jesus' footsteps. Now, off to bed with you. Remember what happened, and think about the lesson God has given us all."
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