Coming from an atheist upbringing, WinShape Camps for Boys was John’s first exposure to the Gospel. Now, John’s newfound relationship with Jesus has stirred curiosity within his family, as well.
This past summer, a camper named John came to Session Three of WinShape Camps for Boys at Mt. Berry. After sitting down for dinner on the very first night, John leaned across the table and looked at his counselor: “I’m sorry, David.”
Confused, David responded, “What are you sorry for, buddy?”
“I didn’t realize this was a Christian camp,” John said, going on to explain that he wasn’t a Christian and felt like maybe he shouldn’t be there.
David told John there was no need to apologize, but confirmed that yes – he was at a Christian camp and would get to learn a little bit more about Jesus while he was there.
Later that week, David noticed John tearing up and sensed that something was weighing on him. David and another counselor sat down with John, who began crying as he described his fear of giving his life to Christ and said he just wasn’t sure he was ready to make such a big decision. David told John it was a big decision, and there was no pressure to make it until he was ready.
That night, David learned more about John’s family. John told him his parents were atheists, so he was too. His parents didn’t want anything to do with Jesus and had told John that Jesus “was a bunch of BS” and that Christians were “idiots”. Naturally, John was scared that if he accepted Christ as his Savior, his family would disown him, his dad would hurt him, or he would have to leave his sister.
David was burdened by John’s fears, because no nine-year-old should have that kind of weight on their shoulders. He assured John that it was a big decision, but that God would protect him and never leave him. John still wasn’t ready to make a decision that night, and David affirmed him, saying John didn’t need to make it until he was fully ready.
Over the next week, John came up to David at some point every day to tell him he hadn’t made a decision. David knew John’s heart was stirring and that the decision was always on his mind. David continued to pray for John and his family, asking God to start moving in a bigger way.
At the end Boski Award Ceremony on the final Thursday night, staff circled the room and opened up a time for campers to make decisions or speak to their counselors as they felt led. David spent several minutes in prayer over John, when suddenly he felt a tap on his shoulder.
It was John.
John had more questions about salvation, and David prayed over him. At the end of the prayer, John finally made the decision. He accepted Christ as his Lord and Savior. John prayed his own prayer for the first time, asking God to forgive him and help him follow Him with his all.
When John’s parents came to get him from camp, David decided to share John’s decision with them so they wouldn’t be shocked and could adjust to supporting him in his journey. When David told them, they were a bit frustrated and shocked. They told David they were in a very awkward and difficult situation because of their stance on the topic of Christianity.
David still found hope in the mother’s response, as she mentioned that John had begun to show interest in wanting “something to believe in” over the past few months, and she wondered if this might be what he needed.
A few days later, David would get to learn about how John’s story had continued to unfold.
As the final session of camp started, a father dropping off his son at camp came up to one of the counselors to share a story about a boy named John who had just attended camp. He went on to say that he and his family were neighbors with John’s, and they had been trying to witness to John’s parents for quite some time.
The father said John had returned from camp a completed changed person, one who was on fire for God and reading his Bible every day. Because of the transformation, John’s mother had begun coming over to that family’s house to ask more questions about their Christian faith.
Because of WinShape Camps, John was exposed to the gospel and drawn into a relationship with Christ. Even more, a family that previously stood grounded in unbelief has become interested in the God behind the transformation they’ve seen in their son. The impact reaches far beyond the campers, and that’s the greatest God story of all.