We get so many notes, emails, and calls that are a testament to what Camp Barnabas is doing in the lives of our campers, missionaries, staff and donors. It is incredible to hear and see firsthand what God is doing through the ministry of Barnabas. Here are a few things that parents, campers and missionaries have shared with us:
"Last Sunday I was reminded of what an impact Barnabas makes on our campers. I am in intern for my church's special needs ministry. I got a notice from a parent that they would be bringing their daughter with down syndrome to try out our church for the first time. When I went up and introduced myself to the family, the girl stuck a piece of paper in my face. I looked at it realized that it was the Barnabas devotional packet in perfect condition. Her mom said she takes it with her wherever she goes. During the next hour and a half, she told me all about her previous summer at camp. Almost a year has gone by and she was telling the stories like they happened yesterday. I felt so much joy to know that I am a small part of such an outstanding and impactful camp."
"Camp Barnabas has been an indescribable blessing in my life and has taught me a huge amount about service. Barnabas has showed me the joy in serving others and selflessly pouring out our heart into an opportunity that is so much bigger than ourselves. Camp has proved how life-changing it is to give of ourselves to serve and give our time and hearts to a camper and how it can transform our lives dramatically, not only through the camper but by the grace of God. Camp Barnabas positively proves how the hard work and true passion a person puts into serving, the more rewarding the outcome is for the other person and the greater cause. Camp Barnabas, through serving, has provided me with a huge appreciation and satisfaction in the little triumphs and the respect for the failures, knowing that in the end, our work will be done and will have successfully been able to be the hands and feet to an amazing friend. And even more exciting, Camp has shown me that in serving, I'm not alone. Christ is there to help us every step of the way and He has full control over the week but we get to physically work to glorify Him and His grace along with the staff who are an incredible support system. The staffers are a prime example of selfless faith and giving with no limits. Christ is working through the missionaries, staff, and campers, which in return, makes the act of service so bold and full of compassion. What a blessing serving is and Camp Barnabas has blessed me with so much knowledge and understanding behind serving, which we have the incredible opportunity to do."
"I just wanted to write you a note to let you know how much our family has benefited from all of your hard work, wisdom and sacrifice in serving at Camp Barnabas and say thanks for your commitment. The Lord has taught us so much from our time there, and I just wanted to make sure you know that he is using you all in mighty ways.
Obviously Camp is an amazing place for special kids to be accepted and encouraged like never before. At Barnabas, those with special needs are able to experience the love and hope that points them to the Savior who alone provides eternal love and eternal hope.
The benefit that is not quite as obvious is the amazing impact this incredible atmosphere and these special kids have on the volunteers (including Barnstormers, Missionaries, and Cabin Moms).
As I have pondered how the experience of volunteering at Barnabas could have moved and inspired Jake, Allie, Claire and me more deeply than we have ever been over before, I have realized that serving at Barnabas is an opportunity to experience what Jesus meant when He said "whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." At Barnabas, as we developed relationships with the precious camper, our focus turned more toward meeting their needs over our own needs our affections were stirred for others rather than just ourselves. As we who are generally selfish lived out our God given purpose and ultimate calling of giving and serving through dependence on His strength, we experience deep joy and satisfaction like never before.
Not only were we able to experience the satisfaction and joy of living out our God given purpose, but we also were able to experience the love and faithfulness of God Himself. As a cabin mom, I watched the volunteers serve the precious children without expecting anything in return. This gave me deeper understanding of God's relentless love for me. As I watched the volunteers and staff heap the love and attention on the campers, even when they were unable or unwilling to respond to this love, I was reminded of the extremes that the Lord goes to to get my attention and draw me into a more intimate relationship with Him, and He persists even when I continually disregard Him and His love for me.
I watched my Missionaries chase after their campers in full pursuit as the camper fled from the fun activities that awaited their cabin, and it reminded me of how the Lord so faithfully pursues me when I run from Him. He desires to gently redirect me to His path of blessing.
As the Missionaries so lovingly showered and changed the campers who are unable to clean themselves, I was reminded me of my own inability to cleanse and free myself from bondage to sin and the tremendous sacrifice The Lord has made to cleanse and free me. The after shower joy and freshness in the cabin reminded me of the sweet intimacy that occurs as I allow Him to draw me to Himself and continually cleanse and purify me, freeing and empowering me to a joyful life of obedience to Him.
As I see these special children in their wheelchairs, with their unique syndromes, I am reminded of my own brokenness, making me long for heaven and the ultimate healing by the One who came to fully restore us to Himself. I cannot wait for the day that I, along with all of the Barnabas family, will be to RUN into the arms of our precious Savior fully restored for eternity, able to sing, dance, laugh, rest and enjoy each other forever."