In an alternate reality—the one where everything goes to plan—last week would have been our third English camp of the summer. A little over a month ago, we were agonizing over the decision of whether or not to have camps this summer.
Was this a situation where the Lord was calling us to trust him—that he would provide enough staff if our foreign volunteers could not get into the country (and that he would keep everyone healthy)?
Or was this a time when he was calling us to rest and rejuvenate ourselves in him instead of pushing through?
My normal tendency is to press on and do the thing, but ultimately, we “played it safe,” trusting that God could work this summer in the lives of our students and staff even if we did not push through and have a camp. This has prompted me, for one, to think about different ways I can connect with some of our students.
One thing I care a great deal about is making people feel heard and creating space for them to be able to share the hard things in their lives. This can be difficult for me, because, when people share, my first instinct is to help them fix it or to give them advice they may not want. When in a hurry, this is even more true. In reality, sometimes people just need someone to listen and walk with them through the questions, struggles, or pain. Through conversation groups and other interactions at camp each year, we get to do some of this listening. We also get to do some of this and the “walking with” during English clubs throughout the year.
But sometimes, students have deeper questions and struggles than can’t be addressed in one week at camp or a group event every week. After we cancelled camp, I felt God nudging me to do an event for some of our students where we could talk about anything they needed or wanted to. I noodled it around for a bit, not sure if I should pursue it, before asking some of our other staff if they would want to help lead it. They were on board, so we went ahead.
The event turned out entirely different than I expected, but it was clear to me that God was working through it. It truly was a place for students to share hard things and for us to listen to and encourage them. If we had been able to have camp this summer, we probably wouldn’t have done an event like this, and the things shared likely would not have been disclosed. God used the camp cancellation to actually deepen some of our relationships. In fact, we are going to do another event like this one next week. I don’t know what to expect for that either, but I know that God can and will use it.
Sometimes the best way to proceed in a muddled world is quite confusing, but this summer has been a blessing to me in seeing that God can and does move even when what we think he is planning has fallen apart. He is never not moving. If the world turns to chaos, as it feels it has this year (though in truth, it is probably always in chaos), he still works, he still speaks to us, he still transforms lives. Sometimes, I think his ways are even more evident in such confusing times.
What might God be asking you to do in this continued season of confusion? Push through? Rest and draw closer to him? Connect with people in a new way?