What do the fruit of the spirit, body odor, s’mores, spartan challenges, and the gospel all have in common? Winter Ridgehaven 2018/19! Samantha and I, along with Brian and Laura Lightle recently had the privilege of leading a group of 31 covenant children and youth groupers to this year’s winter conference at Ridgehaven, the PCA’s conference center and camp in North Carolina. This camp is a great place for the youth to learn about Christ, grow in their love for Christ and for each other, build new relationships, and just be silly. Throughout this camp the youth had many opportunities to learn about their faith, play games, and spend time with one another. Besides our group, there were groups from three other PCA churches there, including 2nd Presbyterian in Greenville, where Pastor Windt is now ministering.
Despite all the fun and games of camp, one thing that really manifested itself was the faithfulness of our God. Many prayers were offered up in preparation for this camp. We desired that God would provide many opportunities for spiritual conversations, that He would give faith to or deepen the faith of the students going, and that He would build unity among the members of the youth group. John 15:7 tells us that if we abide in Christ, we can ask Him what we desire and He will grant it, and this whole trip was an exposition of those words. We had many opportunities to speak to the youth group, both individually and in groups, about their faith and how God has been working in their lives. I had students ask me how to lovingly call others out on their sin, how to grow in their love for the Lord, how to love those who are seemingly unlovable, and even how to treat their little siblings. We heard many testimonies of how God is working in and convicting the hearts of our youth throughout this trip, and we even had a student remark that they had never seen our youth group this unified before. God is faithful.
The speaker this year was pastor Dave Latham. Pastor Latham has been working as the head of admissions at Reformed Theological Seminary, but has just recently responded to a call to pastor a church in Alabama. He taught this week on the fruit of the Spirit. Pastor Latham did an excellent job of connecting with and engaging the youth throughout his teaching time. This was the first time for many of the campers to really consider what the fruit of the Spirit is and how it applies to our lives. One thing in particular that left an impression on many of our youth was that the various aspects of the fruit of the Spirit are not a standard that we must achieve to be loved by God, but blessings that we grow into as we learn to love and rely on the Lord more and more.
We greatly look forward to attending next year’s winter conference and seeing how God works through future camps and retreats. Thank you so much for your prayers and encouragement! If you want to contribute to the youth ministry, please consider joining us in prayer, providing meals on Sunday nights, or donating to the youth budget.