The summer after my freshman year of college I worked at a little camp called Marannook. It was there that I learned how to really study the Bible, how to confront sin in my life, how to pray, how to receive grace. That summer changed the total trajectory of my life... And I think mostly because I was at that unique season of life where we start making choices that really shape who we are.
So no surprise that one of my favorite parts of working with a college ministry is entering into students' summers at summer projects. This was our fourth summer at Jackson Hole, Andrew's second time to be the director.
Here we received 26 students from all over the states to daily shepherd. In the mornings the staff gave talks on prayer, righteousness, the kingdom of God, how to share the gospel, how to lead a small group...and on and on. In the afternoons we went on hikes or another activity like horse back riding or white water rafting. We ate all of our meals together, becoming a little family. At night we had small groups or men's/women's time or reflection... The gospel being laid out in front of the students every day.
We go into the summers knowing that God will work somehow... Knowing that His Word doesn't return without doing its work. But we never know how all that will play out and God's surprises of His kingdom coming here and there are like little gifts all throughout the summer!
We saw one sweet girl decide to follow Jesus after wrestling with the thoughts of His goodness, His truthfulness. The night after she trusted Him we studied the Passover passage in our small group and it was the most beautiful moment to all fall on our knees together and thank God for a real and tangible Passover in her life... That Jesus was her Lamb and His blood was now painted over her doorpost.
I had another precious student (now a dear friend) who told me I was the first to ever open up the Bible with her. It made me teary for a lot of reasons, but mostly for the hope of what's to come in her life... A new season of seeking His Word as food for her life and the promises she can cling to there.
We saw students confess sin that they had never brought into the light before... Now clinging to the truth that they are not enslaved to those things and because of Jesus they can live abundant lives full of good things. There were some who started to pray and think about full time ministry after college. Some who were starting to pray and dream about how they could start Bible studies in their apartments or Greek houses. It's so fun to think about the ripple effects of the summer that we may never even see!
For us, it was honestly the hardest summer we've had. Andrew was working 12 hour days with only a break from 1-6 on Sundays. I was working about half of that and we had two little boys who don't (and shouldn't) know to give us breaks. And also no babysitter. (But super sweet staff and students who stepped in to hold babies and play with Wilson and give us grace upon grace.) The littlest of my littles only slept through the night once the whole summer and my other little boy realllllyyy struggled with anger and aggression all summer. So we struggled with it too. :)
I would like to say I'm not complaining (because, hello, a summer in Jackson Hole??) but I kind of am complaining. It was exhausting. But here's what it did... Man, did it bring us to the end of ourselves and to Jesus.
One of the highlights of the summer was sharing a house with the Walker family. Brooke's spiritual gift has to be encouragement because she spoke life into me every day. She let me cry about Wilson. She led us into a time of prayer in the mini van on just about every drive from our house to the lodge. She was the new mercy I woke up to every morning and I'm 100% sure I would not have crossed the finish line of the summer without her!
We are so thankful for how The Lord worked through our weaknesses. There were so many times that I felt faint and fragile, but when I opened up the Word with students His eternal promises felt so strong and sure. These were beautiful moments where I was reminded that He is the only constantly good and true thing. And because we felt so empty apart from Him, it was easy to point away from ourselves and move others' gaze to Jesus and say, "Behold the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world!"
Not me. Not Andrew. Not a program. Not a campus ministry. Jesus. He is the good thing!
So thankful for all of you who sent us off with prayers and finances. We hope it's clear that your investment was not in us but in a God who is faithful to do His work... We really believe that lives and generations to come were changed this summer because of students who encountered a Jesus who redeems.