The students are bright, like real bright. We were grading CRE (Christian Religious Studies, their Bible class) exams a little over a week ago, and I rarely gave anything less than an A+. They know the Bible, they have facts and details memorized that I didn't even know were in the Bible until a few weeks ago, and they can tell you almost anything about Jesus PLUS the exact reference where you can find it in the Bible. I'm telling you, real bright.
They know all about Jesus. However, there is a big difference between knowing about Jesus and knowing Jesus.
We read stories from the Bible with them every night before bed and talk about how following Jesus is so much more than taking a Bible class, knowing all the right answers, and going to church service on Sunday, because that is what is culturally normal. We want to see them stop memorizing the gospel and start falling in love with it.
"I'm too angry to become a Christian. Maybe when I'm older and I have my anger under control." These sentences (and a lot more sad and confusing things) came tumbling out of Matthew's mouth. As I prayed really quickly that Jesus would give me the words to say, my heart broke for this friend of mine. I started thinking about my senior year of high school. How often did I feel that I had to have it all together to come before my Lord? How often did I feel the pressure (often applied by myself) to have amazing grades, to be a supportive sister, a helpful daughter, a loyal friend? How often did I feel that I had to be perfect before I could come to Jesus and rest in His perfection?
Oh sweet Matthew, you don't have to have all your sin and your life under control before you come to Jesus. That's it. You have to come to Jesus just as you are. You have to lay your sins, your struggles, and your life at His feet, and rest in His grace upon grace.
We go to their classrooms every day, teach about salvation and the joy found only in Jesus, and sing simple praise and worship songs. I don't know if there will ever come a day that these precious ones turn to Jesus here on this earth, but I am thankful for stories and songs and seeds. Most importantly, I am thankful that I am not the one who draws hearts to my Savior, but that Jesus alone draws His children to Himself. And He loves them far more than I do.
I sat down next to my co-counselor Shelby, tears welling up in my eyes as I explained to her that I just wanted one more week with this camper. She leaned over and wrote on a piece of paper, because the closing ceremony was starting. She wrote, "It's not your work," and included the reference to a Bible verse.
"And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns." Phillippians 1:6 (NLT)
So as we say our goodbyes to all our of our loves on Friday, we will wish for one more week. Our hearts will be heavy, but we will be filled to the brim with joy, knowing that God will continue to draw the hearts of his children. We know He will continue to do His work.