By Fraser, Summer Intern at Willowtree
For the past two summers, I have focused on teaching my boys the gospel. The goal in my first summer was to teach them that God’s love is unconditional, predicated not on our own righteousness, nor on anything that we have to offer, but solely on his choice to love us. On top of this, I tried to show them that we do not become righteous just because we are saved—that Christians are not better people because they believe in Jesus—but that we are still sinners, who are only counted righteous and are called to become perfect by God’s grace. We talked about how “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness” (Gen. 15:6), but then we looked into Abraham’s life and saw how he still made mistakes and forgot his God. The conclusion was that even though Abraham was inconsistent in his faithfulness, God’s faithfulness toward Abraham was constant.
The next summer, we discussed what it means to love. The goal was to teach them that God showed the perfect example of love on the cross when he gave his own Son to die for us, so that we might live. Most of our Bible studies were spent discussing how we can live out this same love that God has shown to us: what we can sacrifice, whom we can sacrifice for, why we should sacrifice, whether we should love non-Christians. I was so encouraged to see God’s faithfulness throughout my two summers. Despite how little my kids seemed to remember or be paying attention in the moment, I could see that they were using knowledge and concepts I had taught in the first summer to work through concepts I was teaching in the second. It is my prayer that God will continue to establish their knowledge and understanding of the Bible, building for them a strong foundation on which to navigate the rest of their life.
This summer, I want to focus more on their own questions about God and the Bible and the church, and how those aspects of their life intersect with the world they live in. My boys are now two years older than they were when I first taught them, and I can already see, after the first week, that they have become much more aware of their own questions and they are able to articulate them better to me. I want to embrace the opportunity God has given me to give a direct response to their questions about God, so that they can learn what the Bible’s answers to those questions are. I do not want the first answers they hear to come from the world, which will tell them to love themselves first, to hope in themselves and in material wealth, and to live for pleasure and happiness above all else. They will inevitably hear these lies in innumerable forms throughout their lives, but I pray that when those questions first pop into their minds, they will be met first by the Word of the Living God, which will become in their hearts a rock on which they can build a life that will stand against any storm (Mat. 7:24–27).
Already I have had a glimpse of their confusion about who God is and how he relates to the world. One of my boys asked, “Isn’t Mary a goddess?”, and another said, “God will never forsake us until we die”. These kinds of questions and comments have led me to organize my Bible studies to be flexible enough for me to address those confusions in the moment, and not let them fester. But I have also heard questions which show me what joy and hope they already have in God. Today, one boy was amazed to find out that I had lived nineteen years before becoming a Christian; he could hardly believe that it was actually possible for someone to change so much, to the point that he would start teaching the Bible to someone else. He asked me to tell him how it happened, and I am excited to share with all my boys on Monday how God changed my life forever.
This leads me to a new burden that God has put on my heart for my boys this summer. I have always assumed that they all know I believe in God and have a personal relationship with him, just because of the fact that I am teaching them about the Bible and God's love. Yet, in today's Bible study, I discovered that one of the boys, who was in my class two years ago, thought back to our first year together when I was not a Christian. I think he had confused the fact that I had not always been a Christian with the thought that I had at some point become a Christian while working at camp. It made me realize that I need to be more open about my own personal faith in my Lord Jesus Christ. I shouldn't just focus on telling them that the Bible is true and that we should believe in Jesus, but I should also share my experience with real and immeasurable and unsurpassable joy in loving and being loved by him.
It is this above all things that I want to share with my boys this summer: my testimony, that I am loved by God and I find peace in him. This is the part God has given me to play in the salvation of these children; for we know that it is only "by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of [our] testimony” that we can overcome the devil (Rev. 12:11), and the last enemy, which is death (I Cor. 15:26). I pray that in sharing my testimony with my boys, they will see a living faith in me, and that through their questions, and frustrations, and tears, and joys, they will begin to have a living faith in their hearts as well.
Fraser is a returning summer intern. After volunteering at the camp, he fell in love with the children and wanted to share with them the love that he had received from God.