Camp War Eagle Recap

08.17.17 | Good Reads | by Elizabeth Martino

    Lizzy Martino, one of the college students at Grace, spent the summer as a camp counselor. Below is a recap of what she learned.

    My time at as a Camp Counselor at Camp War Eagle was in one word: amazing. It was a BLAST and I got to see God work in incredible ways every day, both in my life and the lives of the campers.
    Camp War Eagle is a camp that has about 600 campers each session. These campers are from northwest Arkansas and often have hard home situations. Many of them have never been to church. All of the staff at Camp War Eagle love the Lord and get to love the kids with Jesus' love and teach them about the Gospel through His word, through stories, and through our lives and how we serve them.
    God worked in incredible ways and I want to share a couple stories to give just a glimpse of that.

    I had a camper named Ruby. Ruby is 9 years old and is full of sweetness and silliness with a hint of sassiness. She had never owned a bible of her own, so we gave her one with her name on it and sticky notes hidden within. The next day, she ran up to me exclaiming, "Miss Lizzy!!! I read my bible today!" She then launched into how there was a man and a woman who ate something they weren't supposed to and then they couldn't be with God anymore. Genesis. Though I was thrilled that she was reading God's word and showing understanding, I thought that maybe starting in Matthew might be better for her. And so every day she would read a little bit of Matthew and we would talk about it together. I was so encouraged to see her at the end of the summer to learn that she had been reading every day, even when she wasn't at camp anymore!! She went from never reading the Bible on her own to being excited to spend time with God in His word every day.

    I had a 7-year-old  camper named Phoenix. Phoenix was one of my most challenging campers, but easily one that is dearest to my heart. She was abused by her birth parents until she was removed from her home for her own safety. Praise God that she has been adopted by parents who follow the Lord and will love her unconditionally as He does!!! Because of that, though, she didn't understand that we as her counselors loved her and cared about her and wanted what was best for her. As the week went on however, she started to see by the way we loved her regardless of her behavior that we truly cherished her. Seeing her start to understand that was the sweetest moment. And slowly, her actions started to change. Her behavior toward the other campers changed from selfish to selfless. All because she realized she was truly loved. By us, and more importantly by our great God.

    I was greatly inspired by a camper named Hannah. Hannah is 11 years old and accepted Jesus as her savior one year ago. Even though she is young she follows Jesus with her whole life!!! She served other people - campers AND counselors - and would remind people of the gospel with such kindness. She gave me her cross necklace that she got when she accepted Jesus. I wear it every day and it reminds me to pray for her and all my campers. I know what Paul felt in his heart when he wrote the Philippians: "I thank my God every time I remember you, always praying for you with joy."

    Camp War Eagle has a lot of international students who are part of the summer staff and camp has an awesome program that partners every international staff with a national staff buddy. Alžbeta was my partner! She's from Slovakia and her name is Elizabeth in Slovak. We bonded over that! At the beginning she was very shy but throughout the 10 weeks we were there, we became really close friends. Joking together, laughing together, having heart-to-hearts, and sharing truth that was truly good news to her. Alžbeta doesn't know Jesus yet, but this summer she was surrounded by the body, loved well by believers, and shared the good news that God saves sinners through Jesus. She heard the gospel and saw it lived out in her friendships. I love her so much and am excited to keep in touch with her and to see all that God will do! Until then, I can teach you guys a few Slovak phrases!

    I personally learned many valuable lessons:
    • Where does my strength come from?    Not from sleep. No, but from Jesus!
    * The Spirit is the only one who can make a difference in hearts, encourage, or teach. I can do nothing apart from the Spirit. But when I depend on God, life-giving things will happen.
    * A great picture for who we are as believers is: A Lighthouse. We are called to stand and shine the light that is Jesus, the light of the world. He is the one that ships lost amidst storms will see and follow and find refuge and life in. We just show Him in us! 
    * I learned from the campers that worshipping like David did: becoming even more undignified by dancing, jumping, and flailing is sweet and fitting worship for our King!
    * Obedience in Serving the kids became less and less a sacrifice and more and more a joy.
    * Parents are amazing. Go parents.

    Thank you so much for your prayers and for being a church family that is alive with the Spirit and has taught me so much.
    Thank you for listening to some stories from my time at Camp War Eagle.
    Love you all!

    Your sister in Christ, 
    Lizzy Martino