By Emily Colleen Chastain

When I decided to go to Teen 2 this year, it was really just so that I could see all of my old friends. Once I got there, I quickly realized that it was going to be much more than that. Each night I felt God calling me toward something or someone, almost by name.

I didn’t REALLY begin to understand what God was trying to tell me until morning chapel on Wednesday. We did a prayer session with stations that went with the aspects of praying through A.C.T.S. (Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, Supplication). The “Confession” station was the one that really got me. We had to trace our hand and write on the paper things that we wanted to turn over to God and prayer requests and we taped them to the windows of the tabernacle (anonymously). After we had finished our hand we had the opportunity to read what other people had written, place our own hand over where theirs had been, and pray for them. Now, the things I wrote on my hand were nothing to major, just things like college choices. The thing about this exercise that really touched my heart was when I was reading what others had written, I looked up to where I had placed my hand, and Dan Dexter had his hand over it, praying for me. He had no idea who he was praying for. He didn’t know that he was praying for someone standing right next to him, and yet he still prayed for me.

That night, Shane’s sermon was on prayer. He talked about how prayer isn’t just talking to God, but listening to him. When he opened up the altar for prayer, one of my friends went up. Myself and a few of our other friends went with him and prayed with him.

There was someone next to me at the altar praying. He had no one with him. Upon seeing this, I remembered what Ricky Court had said during Teen 1: “Find the someone who has no one, and become the someone that they need.” I don’t believe in coincidences. I knew God had put me at that exact spot for a reason. I left the friend I was with and turned to this person who’s name I didn’t even know, and I prayed with him. And the strange part about it was that it really wasn’t hard at all. I simply asked God to heal this person of his pain, whether it be physical or emotional, and to let His love and mercy shine on this young man.

As I prayed with him, I began to cry a little. At first, I thought “Oh, everyone’s gonna think I’m so weird because I’m crying right now” but then I realized that it’s okay to pray with a stranger and it’s even okay to cry with a stranger. That’s what God has called all of us to do. To be there for one another. It’s part of His will for us to be different.

Now, while all of this is nice and happy, I still wasn’t completely satisfied. I’ve had camp experiences like this before. Where I leave camp and I’m on fire for the Lord, but once I get home and back to reality I would always fail to please Him.

On the final night of camp, my mind was changed. Shane’s sermon was titled “Is it true about you?” It was about Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. For those who don’t know the story, here’s the short version: the king set up and idol, and every time the music played, the people had to bow down to this idol. And so the people did, all except for these three teenage boys. They refused to bow to anything except for God. So the king had them thrown in the furnace, they survived, the king believed in the TRUE Lord. Shane said that you need to make the decision to be a leader when everyone else is being a follower. That we need to stand up for Jesus Christ, because if we don’t stand for something, we’ll fall for anything.

Shane ended by quoting 1 Corinthians 15:33 “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good character.'” He told us that we need to surround ourselves with good people. With other Christians. I realized that this was my problem: I knew something was wrong in my life, and that something was dragging me away from Christ, but I never changed anything. I know that I need to change, and that I need to change soon! On this night, the altar call was different for me. I went up, with no one to pray for but myself. I simply asked God to surround me with the people I need most in my life.

That night we had the traditional end of camp bonfire. It was somewhat sad because I knew that this was the last time I would ever be a camper. But it was also joyful because of the new friends I made and the amazing ways God had moved in my heart throughout the week.

When we were dismissed, I went up to Shane, with tears running down my face and simply thanked him. I thanked him for everything he had done and said throughout the week and during the two junior high camps that he spoke at when I was a camper. The reason I wanted to thank him was because he made me realize that I’m going to make it this time. I have the knowledge, I have the will, and now I have the people.

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