Everybody comes back from student camp with stories. Many of them are funny and some are life changing. We hope that students and adults have some kind of story about how God has moved in their life during the week. Often my story has been centered around watching God move in other people and the joy I get from being part of His work in the lives of students. But this year my story is different.
On Wednesday I led a group of students in a discussion about vocational ministry. Each one in this small group felt a call to ministry and I was helping them understand that call and know how to move forward. Near the end of our hour together I told them to explore opportunities that were presented. You never know how God might use something that you would normally not do to help you get to the place He needs you to be. So I said, “The next time someone in your church asks for volunteers, you need to raise your hand. Maybe God will use that to show you something about your call.” This is counsel I have often given to those in this place in life.
Later that day Gary, our camp pastor, was telling me about the conference he is leading in Rome in the middle of July. It’s much like what I went to in 2006 in Lebanon where we have training and preparation then spend one or two weeks on mission. Then Gary told me that he wanted me to come to Rome this July. So, my thoughts went something like this: 1) there is nothing on my calendar for that particular week, 2) that would be an expensive trip, especially buying plane tickets this late, 3) I just told those students to take opportunities before them, 4) I couldn’t go to Rome and leave Julie at home, 5) that would really be expensive to buy two tickets to Rome this late, 6) I’d love to go, 7) that would be expensive.
Gary kept prodding me and I talked to Julie about it. We decided that if we could get the money, not likely, that we would go for the conference.
Camp ended on Friday and we packed up and came home. Of course, one of the first things you have to do when you get home is check the mail. What did I find in our mailbox? A check that would more than cover our trip to Rome!
I showed Julie the check and said, “I guess we are going to Rome.” It was amazing. The check was mailed on Wednesday, the day we were invited to go. I was and am overwhelmed by the work of God as He puts everything into place to be sure we know when He is moving. So on Sunday we bought our plane tickets to Rome and we leave the afternoon of July 14. We’ll be back on July 22 and then drive to Brownsville to join the Spring Creek mission group working on the border.
I told Julie at the beginning of the summer that I wanted this to be a great summer for us. I think it’s living up to my hopes.