North Way Christian Community Church in Pittsburgh, PA

MS Surf City 2017 The Jesus High

There’s something special about leaving behind every-day life and its familiar distractions – it’s in the disruption from the usual that you really see hearts open and the Holy Spirit beginning to work. But then, you return to the familiar routine that often conflicts with what the Lord was working in the time away, and one of the most exciting things about trips like Surf City can quickly become one of its biggest challenges as new habits learned at camp gradually fade amidst the busyness of life. This year at Surf City, I had the privilege of leading a group of girls largely consisting of rising ninth graders. I was impressed with the way they recognized this challenge. By the end of the week, the inspired and exciting feeling that came with the time spent at camp had been dubbed, “The Jesus High,” and we were regularly discussing how we could extend it to our days post-camp. During our last cabin time, we started brainstorming the usual challenges that result in failing to continue what we start at camp as well as practical ways we could prevent this from happening. Our ideas ranged from putting reminders in our phones and scheduling the same time each day to spend time reading our Bibles to finding people in our lives with whom we could share our goals and create accountability outside of camp. This conversation turned into a time of sharing our favorite books and/or stories from the Bible, so that we could help one another narrow down a good place to begin our studies. It was so incredible to sit back and hear the passion in their voices as the girls shared what they learned from their own studies of the Bible and encouraged others to read that specific story or book, that it might have an impact on their lives, too. It was beautiful to see how eager they were to keep learning and growing outside of camp, to take what they were experiencing that week home and allow it to impact every area of their lives. But I know life will not always be kind to these students. Hardships come and bring with them doubt and fear and insecurity. The first morning Bible Study we did was on Psalm 1. We read about the difference between someone who delights in the ways of the Lord and someone who walks in the counsel of the wicked; the former is like a tree planted by streams of water, which bears fruit in its season; the latter is like chaff driven away with the wind. What is so beautiful about a trip like Surf City is seeing seeds of truth being planted in the hearts of so many students, witnessing them already beginning to take root as those students seek out how to continue delighting in the Lord after the camp ends, and knowing that it is not on me to cause those seeds to grow and bear fruit or to protect them from becoming chaff in the harsh realities of the world. Part of trusting in the Lord is being faithful in what he is asking of us in each moment – to do what is needed right now, often without ever seeing the fruits of our labor, and trusting that his provision will be enough. I can believe that there will be fruit from this week; even when I don’t see it or play a part in bringing it about; even when life is difficult and the hard questions come and it looks a lot simpler to go with the crowd. Because it was always the Lord’s work to do. Those seeds of truth were always under his care. These students were always held by him. And I can rest in the knowledge that he will continue to be relentless in his pursuit of them and faithful to continue growing the truth planted in their hearts long after the Jesus High of Surf City ends. -Karlie Haywood, Oakland Family Matters Director