Students Who Love: Stories from Student Life Camp
At Providence Students, our goal is to fulfill the church’s mission by making disciples who love God, love the church, and love the world. Everything we do, from our big annual events to our regular weekly gatherings, is meant to encourage 6th through 12th grade students as they learn to grow in their faith and live it out. Each year we attend Student Life Camp hopeful that God will advance this mission in the hearts of our students.
Students who love God
Our greatest hope is that our students will know and love God, and at camp, we saw many students grow in their faith. Throughout the week, our students were incredibly intentional and responsive. They were eager to participate and asked great questions. Camp wasn’t just a vacation for our students; they came ready to learn and grow in their relationship with the living God. For instance, one middle school girl asked me a question about salvation. Through a 90 minute conversation, God used His word to demonstrate the greatness of His character and mercy, and she walked away delighting in the God who called her before she could do anything good or bad (Romans 9:11).
Another student asked how he could be sure that he was a Christian. He explained that he had prayed to receive Christ a few months before camp, and that he had started to hate his sin. This student was beginning to experience the cycle of the Christian life: repentance of sin and belief in the gospel. At the end of the conversation, I reminded him that we all struggle with fighting against our flesh, and I encouraged him to trust in Christ’s faithfulness to him.
Stories like these demonstrate the beauty of what happened at camp as our students demonstrated fruit of growing in their love for God!
Students who love the church
Additionally, our students grew in their love for one another. We have a passion for helping students love the church. We want to help our students realize that there is nothing more beautiful than the community God builds in the church, and that the most fun, most fulfilling, most life-giving friendships and experiences can be found within the church. Therefore, we were refreshed as we heard our students share stories of how they felt cared for and accepted by one another.
That final night, I was sitting with one of our small group leaders and I looked over to find most of our students laughing and telling stories. Tucked away in a small seating lounge, our middle school boys, middle school girls, high school boys, and high school girls listened to a ninth grader tell stories. As I watched them laugh and listen to one another, I realized that I was witnessing something special. These students were a living, breathing picture of what can happen when the gospel takes root. When the gospel breaks down the barriers that seemingly divide us, we find that we can unite in our common identity as God’s people (Galatians 3:28). Watching this diverse group of students enjoy each other was a beautiful testimony of God’s work in building group unity throughout the week.
Students who love the world
Lastly, our students demonstrated the love of Christ to other people at the camp. One day, on our way to play campus golf, we met a girl who was separated from her church youth group. She told us that she was new to her church, and didn’t feel like she fit in. We invited her to stay with our group until we could reconnect her with her church, and over the next few hours, our students accepted her and made her feel welcomed. I was so thankful to watch our students reflect Christ’s gracious love that reaches out to the lost (spiritually and physically) and welcomes them into love and fellowship.
Ask our students
Student Life Camp was a special experience for all who attended and I am thankful for everyone who prayed for our students! If you get a chance this Sunday, find a teenager and ask them if they went to camp. If so, ask them about their experience and listen for the different things God did in their lives!
Author's Note: I want to thank the people who faithfully serve our students both at Student Life Camp (Tina Smith, Stephanie Stewart and Mark Wilson) and every week (Will Baker, Jessica Bray, Lindsay Cooper, Travis Cooper, Alex Najera, and Stephanie Stewart). Pray for the parents, leaders, and fruitfulness of this ministry; that God will be glorified, and that students will grow to love God, love the church, and love the world!
Editor's Note: If you have a student in 6th-12th grades, we invite you to bring them to Providence Students! This ministry meets on Wednesday nights from 6:30-8:30 p.m. Get more info on our Providence Students page.