Erica Graf served on the staff at Warm Beach Camp in 1989-1991. She was an emerging leader at that time. Now she serves as Early Childhood and Events Coordinator at Cascade Community Church. Recently, she came to Warm Beach Camp for a weekend of R&R and shared this story of life change.
Often as we minister, we plant seeds of God's love and the Gospel. Rarely, do we get to see the result of a long germination period...
One week, during a summer I spent as a horsemanship camp counselor at Warm Beach Camp, I had a precocious camper arrive who promptly pulled me aside to share that, while she understood this was a "religious" camp and there would be "religious" teachings, she did not come from that kind of background. She was polite and respectful, but wanted me to know I should not expect her to be swayed by what was shared–she was just there for the horses. I thanked her for being so upfront and assured her no one would attempt to coerce her into any kind of belief system. During the week, while she did have many questions during our Bible study times and following chapel services, I genuinely believed that as an intelligent girl, she was merely curious and wanted to understand what was being spoken. She gave no indication of having been spiritually impacted in any way by what was taught. At the end of the week, we parted happily–and she was still very firmly "non-religious." As the summer wore on, I mostly forgot about the experience.
A few years after that summer, I received a letter from this camper via my parents. In the letter she relayed to me that, now in high school, she had accepted a friend's invitation to accompany her to youth group. She enjoyed herself and began attending regularly. As she began to listen to the messages of the Gospel being shared, she was flooded with memories of her experience at Warm Beach those few years ago, and all the things that had been shared about God, the Gospel, and having a relationship with Jesus Christ. It all began to make sense to her and to reach her heart. She eventually prayed to receive Jesus and was now in a growing relationship with Him. She was writing to thank me for being the first person in her life to share the Gospel with her and patiently (but not forcefully) answer her questions. She was so grateful for how we had begun, even then, to point her toward Jesus.
Besides being thrilled with the news that she is now a believer, I was humbly reminded that many times we aren't aware of the impact we are having as we minister to others. Even when it looks like we're not making any inroads, the Spirit is at work and the Word is not void. Seeds planted germinate at different times. God's timing is perfect.