Kennewick, WA / July 9-21, ‘09
The swish of sound fluctuated as ears popped with a drop in altitude. Random conversations among passengers translated to muffled words, slur contributing to white noise. An occasional “ding” chimed. I heard the mechanical grinding from landing gear being lowered.
Green farmlands filled in the oval window. The shades of color were inclusive; the symmetrical squares like patches in a quilt; rolled bales of hay; straight plowed rows, meticulous, impressive. Silos stood as watchtowers with rugged fences outlining the countryside.
Traffic and pedestrians rapidly emerged in the foreground. Wheels soon hit the runway replacing agriculture with black pavement, boulevards and signal lights. I shifted gears jolting from harmonic silence back into the boisterous genre of city life. This was my third visit to Washington, my second to the central portion of the state.
My next two camps took place in the Cascade Mountains. They were unlike any others that I have ever experienced. A close friend, Justin, had just moved to Washington with his family in March to become the new junior high and high school youth pastor. His creativity, combined with his license as a life coach, made these camps revolutionary.
The process began a year and a half ago when the walls in my living room were covered with butcher paper. There were phrases, sentences, and lone words neatly divided into rows, columns. To an outsider, the writing draped upon these walls would appear to be incomplete, and nothing but incoherent ink smudges that required deciphering.
Justin put his skills and expertise to use. The life coaching he did for me was intensive, a rigorous sixteen hours divided over the course of two days. I was exhausted from this counseling regimen. Anger was involved. There were tears. Weaknesses were displayed. Strengths were given. Justin interpreted the writing on the walls. He cracked a fortune!
So, I was thrilled to be invited to speak, this first string of summer camps Justin had with new students. His heart to unpack the uniqueness into the people God created them to be was incredible to witness. These camps focused upon the writing on the wall, life coaching. After each chapel, students dismissed for an extended time to journal their life segments.
Justin referenced, “suddenly the fingers of a human hand appeared and wrote on the plaster of the wall” (Daniel 5:5). “You praised the gods of silver and gold, of bronze, iron, wood and stone, which cannot see or hear or understand. But you did not honor the God who holds in his hand your life and all your ways” (Daniel 5:23).
These students needed purpose, not idols. They needed to honor God: see themes, and categories consistent with their lives to discover talents. These summer camps felt more like workshops. It was imperative for Justin’s students to comprehend their complexity, transforming such beauty into the simplistic vice of being used far beyond themselves.
God used these two camps – one junior high, the other high school – strategically, and powerfully due to my friend’s obedience to risk the ease of tradition his first year. Each camp had 25-30 people including staff. Read the writing on the wall. Move to live. It’s a story for humanity. And, it will crack a fortune.