Anna is 15. She’s a very sweet and somewhat shy girl here at Prince of Peace. She’s also a great example of the many wonderful young people that bless our churches and our community.
A couple of weeks ago I asked her to write out her reflections on two of the summer ministry experiences of which she was a part. I had heard that God has given her some very special skills in writing, so I was confident she could write an excellent report. I was right. But when she read her report to the congregation, we were all in awe of both her writing skills and her depth of spiritual reflection.
You know what VBS is, and Lutheridge is our Lutheran camp in North Carolina. I pray you will see God’s Hand upon her life and be blessed by the way she is able to share her relationship with Him. Anna writes…
“Some Christians throughout the world experience life-changing events that are religiously related, and even non-Christians undergo occurrences that alter their perception of God. Though we may not have contact from the Lord through a burning bush like Moses, God still sends us messages whether we realize them or understand their meanings at first. As a teenager growing up in a world like ours, I have questioned my faith and at times have given up for periods of time, but I always receive answers from God when I need them most.
“For the past four years, I have had the opportunity to spend some “one on one” time with God at Lutheridge. The people there and the camp itself have made a major impact on my personal life, my social life, and of course my spiritual life. Through activities like rock climbing, zip-lining, and kayaking down level four rapids on the Nolichucky River in Tennessee, I have lost my fear of drowning and heights, and I gained an adventurous personality trait as well as learned to enjoy the scary thrills of life. I know the types of friends that I want to be around, and I let go of the ones that had negative influences on me. I received courage to stand up to bullies and leave friends who brought me down. This has all made me stronger. Eventually through all of these small but empowering touches of Jesus, I have confidence in my beliefs that I now can firmly stand for.
“Lutheridge personally set up a two-way conference call with me and The Man Upstairs. It really is a time where just you and God can reconnect through counselors who encourage you to try new things or pastors who proclaim messages that can and will lead you on a path to being better involved with your spiritual self. I can definitely attest to this! After every difficult school year since sixth grade, I have looked forward to being emotionally baptized all over again.
“Now, in the beginning of this summer before I went to Lutheridge again I was questioning the future of this world. There are so many terrible things that are happening that really do put our religion in jeopardy, from terrorism to the murdering of countless Christians all over the world and the amount of influence non-Christians and atheists have in our media and government. It leads you to ask where we will be in five, ten and twenty years? Before, I had little to no hope, but now I do.
“This year was my first year of being a VBS teacher. I absolutely loved every second of it. I enjoyed getting to teach my preschoolers about Jesus and read stories from the Bible. They also taught me something. As I sat back and listened to them sing the songs we learned that week, I realized that no matter the amount of evil there is, there will always be new generations of believers who will stand up and have faith in God. God’s love in our lives will never die, it will never go away, because God will at no moment be beaten, so neither will we.
“God puts us in situations and places (Lutheridge and VBS) to help us overcome our biggest struggles, to lead us to grow as his followers and prophets, and to give us answers whether we want them or need them. If you are struggling physically, emotionally, or spiritually, remember this: “We are hard pressed on every side but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed” (2 Corinthians 4:8-9).
God led me to face hard times only to put me where I needed to be to overcome those obstacles. He let me grow, learn, and obtain what I needed to become the person I am today. So, I now know not to worry, just “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matthew 7:7).”
Thanks, Anna. I simply say, “Amen!”
Kollmeyer is pastor of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville. Bring your kids to Sunday School at 10:20! Services at 9:15 and 11:15. www.princeofpeacefayette.org