God certainly granted our prayers (and Northlake’s prayers) for safe travel and a rich and rewarding week at Camp Barnabas in Purdy, Mo. I just want parents to know how proud you would have been to see your kids in action. Six of them (Tanner Hendrick, Cathy Rice, Carter Clinebell, Spencer Kemp, Aziz Tody, Chet Popelka) served as CIA’s (“Christians in Action”), each providing love and care for one special needs kids (or in some cases, a sibling) for the whole week. CIA’s watch over their campers 24/7, taking care of everything including their bodily needs. I truly believe this might be one of the most challenging, self-giving things under the sun you could ever ask any teenager to do!
The other six (Jessica Brown, Maryka Zee, Braden Clinebell, Taylor Clayton, Cole Banker, Preston Kemp) served as “Barnstormers”, serving in various ways with maintenance and food service. I promise you, the Barnstormers worked from sunup to sundown, and the camp simply could not operate without them. The weather was miserably hot, and the work was inglorious, but despite it all, our teens came away uplifted and enriched. They witnessed the kingdom of God at work—at Camp Barnabas, the last truly come first.
We adults had no chance to rest either. I served as a Cabin Dad to a cabin full of severely mentally disabled children—an absolutely incredible experience. Sandee Phillips assisted the kitchen staff and the medical staff. Billy and Katy Clayton, married just a month ago, graciously gave up a week of their newlywed lives to serve as Ministry Partner (Billy) and CIA (Katy). Little-known fact: Camp Barnabas badly needs adult volunteers every summer just as much as it needs teenagers.
We first-timers were absolutely blown away by the Barnabas experience—it provided one get-choked-up moment after another. Who would have thought there was a first-class camp where a special-needs kid could come and experience all the things normal kids do at summer camp? Who would have thought there could be a place where parents of such kids could leave them for a week, knowing they would be loved, properly cared for, and spiritually enriched? Who would have thought there was a place where teenagers could be stretched so much, discovering that serving in Jesus’ name could be so much fun? We returned exhausted, but feeling we had been part of a mighty work of God—the most exhilarating feeling one can experience in this life. To Him be all the glory.