A Labor of Love
The snow has melted and that classic New England humidity has just settled in which means two things: My baseball season is in full swing, and Work Camp is approaching! For the past four summers I have had the pleasure of participating in this weeklong camp. Located in a different community in New England each year, this camp has been a valuable part of my young adult life. For one week, my church youth group and other youth groups from around the country fix and build homes for the needy and elderly. Often rooming in a local school and sleeping on the floors of the classrooms, I get to know my fellow Christians quite well.
With a name like Work Camp, it doesn’t sound like the most attractive way to spend a week in the vacation season. So whenever I ask my friends to join me each year I am bombarded with the same questions: “Why would I want to pay $300 to go and work for a week in the hot sun?” and “Who wants to sleep on the floor and use gym showers?!” All that I can promise them is that it will be one of the most amazing experiences of their life. Eventually they end up trusting me, and I drag them along.
Each year over 250 high school students get split up into crews of five lead by an adult. For the purpose of meeting new people each crew is made up of students who have never met. A typical day during the week consists of working on the site from 8AM to 4PM breaking for devotions and lunch. Then after the work day, all the crews come back and shower to get ready for the evening speaker and music.
This past summer had a significant impact on my life. I was fortunate enough to have Mike in my crew. Mike was from Mount Vernon, Illinois and he persisted in saying “ruff” for “roof” and “pin” instead of “pen.” My crew faced a project that was strenuous both physically and spiritually. We would often be the last crew returning to the school. Our resident, John, confined to a wheelchair, needed a new roof for his mobile home. John was a cantankerous old man who didn’t want to deal with church or God. He just wanted his roof done.
Towards the beginning of the week, John would just come out and check on our progress. We would try to engage him in conversation because it was most importantly our job to show John the glory of God. Replying with one-word answers, John would just try to go back inside. Over the course of the week, John started to open up to us. Each day Mike and I would go inside and invite John to join us with our devotions. On the last two days of the camp he came out to meet and interact with us during this time. We brought smiles and happiness to his trying life. It was like night and day from the beginning to the end of the week with John. On the last day when we were about to leave, John was so overjoyed with what we had done in his life he was brought to tears. He said anyone would be lucky to have kids like us and that our love for the Lord opened his eyes to something worth living for.
The evident spiritual growth expressed through John brought so much joy into my life as well. I knew that I played a substantial part in saving this man’s life. Meeting and helping John was better than any gift I have ever received and it truly showed me my purpose in life. John changed my outlook on life and as a result I have become a hardworking and driven individual. I will never forget John and his impact on my life.