Indelible Moment: A Change That Will Last Forever
“I don’t want to go to Bible camp, I’m not even going to know anybody.”
“Just come baby. It’s going to be fun.”
That’s the conversation I had with my girlfriend, Stephanie, last year in August. She was going to Pine Bush Bible Camp, upstate New York, for a week for teens there. And she was trying to convince me to go. I didn’t really want to go; I’d much rather hang out with my friends in New Jersey, where I’m from, and play football, go swimming off the cliffs in the reservoir, and even drink at my friend Rob’s house, hanging out with all my friends having a good time. But to please her, I said I’ll go. I didn’t know that it was going to change my life forever.
That day came when I had to leave New Jersey from visiting all my friends, back home to the Bronx. In a couple of days I would be leaving to go upstate. I got nothing against upstate New York, in fact I love it; I used to visit my uncle, who lives near the camp, all the time.
So her mom drove both of us up to the camp. It was a nice place; when I looked around, I saw a bunch of cabins, a lunch room type of place, a nurses cabin, a craftshop cabin, a pool, a blacktop for basketball, a huge soccer field/ baseball field, and a bunch more of cabins, and a cabin looking chapel. It was a beautiful, natural looking place. I was assigned a cabin, “Eagle’s Nest” is what it said on the cabin.
When I got inside, I chose a bed, put all my stuff there and sat there. More people came, all around my age, some suburban kids and some city kids. I don’t know what people would tag me as, I was raised in the suburbs and at the time, had only lived in the city for 8 months. And then came in an awesome man, a 23-year-old guy who helped me a lot; He was the counselor, Johnny Hayes.
He introduced himself and we all spoke to each other and stuff, getting to know each other. The rest of the day was all icebreakers, everyone getting to know each other. And at the end of the day we went to the chapel. Walking in I remember thinking,
“I hope I don’t fall asleep.”
Ha, that’s one thing I definitely couldn’t do, even if I wanted to. We sang songs, fun songs, songs that made me think that this is far different from the catholic church I was raised to have to go to. After singing, the speaker for the week came up and introduced himself and started speaking. He’s a tall, young, muscular, bald, white guy. He was really cool and honest man, He’s from Senegal. Immediately I felt conviction, shame for all that I was.
Throughout the week, I had a lot of fun. We played a lot of sports, went water rafting, laser tag, go carts, and a lot more. But most of all, the best part of everyday, was Chapel service. We had it in the morning and at night, and also if I wanted to, which I did, a service in the afternoon to talk about whatever. I went to all of them. I felt such a need for the conviction I felt the first night, that the rest of the week I had to come back for more. More conviction, more worship, more getting to know our God and Jesus our savior. I couldn’t get enough, it was like understanding was just always being taken in every time I stepped foot in the Chapel.
It came to the point where I was so broken down, I needed a change, inside I felt something I needed. It was Thursday that week. I pulled my counselor, Johnny, to the side and we spoke. I was telling him I need Jesus, I know I can’t live another day without Him leading me, I need the Holy Spirit to invade my soul and change my heart. He gave me his bible, and told me to go to the cabin, where nobody was at the time, and pray. Talk to God, only he can change my heart.
So I did, I spent a lot of time in that cabin, on my knees praying to God. I understood that God wants me to talk to him, every time I pray. He loves our conversation. I knew I couldn’t live without Jesus, nothing I do is good, but everything He does is. He died for me, by grace. I didn’t deserve or earn His love, His forgiveness. It was given to me, a way to say only He can change my soul.
When I stood up, I felt a happiness and understanding. I really can’t explain. And since then, I’ve learned a lot. From failing, reading, praying and learning from my savior. This year I went back, and had an extreme week of just worship and understanding and fun. And since then, I have been turning to my Father for everything I need. I get frustrated sometimes with school, with family, and with my friends. And when I get frustrated, I know what I’m doing wrong; later I realize, I need God to lead me through this life and everything makes sense. I’m so thankful for our savior Jesus Christ, and I love our God. That moment in Pine Bush Bible Camp changed my life. Forever. And I thank God for that.