If I am being completely transparent with you, going into our week at Camp Barnabas was one of the scariest times of my life. I read on paper what to expect, but upon arrival it hit home. By the end of the first day, I laid awake in my bunk sobbing and praying to God that He would take this cup from me because I couldn’t handle it. By the time camper arrival was here I struggled so hard to be enthusiastic! It was like a scene from a movie and I was watching myself in the third person. Everything was kind of muffled and the sound of my own heartbeat was drowning all the cheering out. I kept trying to stay focused as the campers arrived. I have never felt so much conflicting emotion. I was taken back by how amazing this was. It was royal treatment! Roll out the red carpet because the campers are here! While I was astonished at what was happening I was also so fearful of what lay ahead. I kept my ear to Joe waiting for him to announce, “Adam from B5!”
Finally, he did!
I ran out to meet Adam and suddenly everything all at once came back into focus. All of my fear, all of my anxiety all dissipated in an instant. I walked Adam back to our cabin and began to help him unpack and meet his parents. I kept fighting back tears. I am so ashamed to admit that going into this I was literally in fear of disability. I had this idea that these people were different. I had this misguided, ignorant idea that I was here to serve the “least of these.” As if I was somehow elevated to a different level because I am “normal.” Now, don’t get me wrong. It wasn’t as if I ever have or have ever had the intention of treating anyone any differently, but I realized there was this subconscious mindset that dwelled within me as I began to learn throughout the week.
As the week went on, I did things that I remember having conversations with people about not being able to do (helping people go to the bathroom, shower, etc.) I learned a very valuable lesson from that. God will not give you more than you can handle. I like to think that God might have had a smirk on His face as I dove in! God also taught me true servanthood. To not just be hearers of the Word, but also doers. God taught me patience.
However, the biggest thing God taught me was that I was just wrong. These people are not the “least of these.” These people are just like you and I. We are all God’s beautiful children uniquely made in His image.
Barnabas changed me.
By the end of the week I was ready to stay for the rest of the summer. Just in the couple of weeks we have been back, I view things so much more differently. In fact, we have a little guy with CP in our VBS program. Andy (one of the youth leaders who came with me to CB) and I have him in our group (coincidence? I think not.) We get to serve him this week. We both looked at each other and said, “dude, I miss camp!”
I have sat down with all of my youth and there is so much going on the lives of each individual, but they all were so greatly impacted. They have experienced some stuff that I honestly thought would drive them away from wanting to take part in this ministry opportunity. Everyone walked away impacted and changed by God. So, I wasn’t the only one.
I want to thank you. I want to thank the staff at CB. I want to thank all the volunteers. I, also, want to thank Matty and Curtis in B5. Those two were amazing. I was so moved by their leadership and their hearts for the Lord and the ministry at Barnabas. Those two were so awesome and were so encouraging and lead us so well. I was in fear that they were going to be the type that kind of threw us newbies to the wolves but they dove right in with us. They are some true servants.
So, with all of that said I just wanted you to know that my fears, my false preconceived notions has all since been washed away. I was just ignorant.