Camp Meeting Fosters Connections in North Idaho
Ah, Sabbath! A rest after a busy week. It was a double blessing that I could attend the North Idaho Regional Camp Meeting in Bonners Ferry on that Sabbath. The campus looked wonderful, with neatly manicured lawns and flowers everywhere. The early morning devotional meeting on Sabbath by Rhonda Backman was an excellent in-depth study on the need for us to be reproducing the character of God in our lives — a prerequisite to the most important "border crossing."
Mike Lambert, Stateline Church (Milton-Freewater, Ore.) pastor, retold the story of Elijah when God found him exhausted and sleeping under a juniper tree after running from Queen Jezebel. Ever long-suffering, God sent an angel to feed Elijah and strengthen him, then God let him run for 40 days and 40 nights. In a cave the Lord came to Elijah and asked, "What are you doing here, Elijah?" The mighty and all-powerful God was not in the great and terrible wind, not in the earthquake, not in the fire, but in the still, small voice.
Byron Corbett, Spokane Valley (Wash.) Church associate pastor, talked about how we must know the time — God's time. We must awaken from our sleep and stupor, be convinced that Jesus is really coming and very soon, and realize that we are running out of time.
Yes camp meeting fills many needs to be spiritually filled by powerful sermons and also to come together to share what God has done in our lives; to connect with friends, old and new and with God in a special way; and to hear His still, small voice.
Sliding into a picnic table with a full plate from the Sabbath potluck, I became aware of an earnest conversation between two people I did not know. It seemed to be a testimony of God's guidance in the life of the young woman who was talking. She told how she had been impressed to move across the continent and to relocate in northern Idaho. She had hoped to move to one area and had looked for a nursing job. Despite her prayers, things had not worked out. However, she had been offered a position at a hospital in another town.
She began work at the hospital and found resistance and frustration almost every day at work. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn't seem to win the confidence of her supervisor and colleagues. It seemed like something or somebody did not want her there. She often felt discouraged and could not see God's hand nor where He was leading.
One day she was eating lunch with some of the staff. Somehow the fact that she was a vegetarian came up in conversation. One of the nurses she had not yet met overheard her and, looking intently at her, asked, "Is that for religious reasons or health?"
Not wanting to offend anyone, she tried to stay away from the "religious" reasons, but the other nurse wouldn't accept that and asked her point-blank, "Are you a Seventh-day Adventist?"
Of course this young woman answered, "Yes." Then the other nurse smiled and said she was too. Since the two nurses did not work together, it took some time before they could become acquainted.
As they became friends, the young woman learned there were many things that her new friend still did not understand about what Adventists believe — things that her personal Bible study had shown her she was missing in understanding. She had been praying earnestly that God would send someone to help her understand the truth she was missing. She had been pleading with God to send someone. She would look at each new person hired and wonder, "Are you the one?" She had been so discouraged that she had pleaded that God would send someone soon because she just couldn't go on.
The young woman added in awe, "I can now see why Satan worked so hard to keep me from connecting with this nurse. We have begun Bible studies together, and she is boldly witnessing to others about what she is learning."
Connections. That is one reason to have camp meeting — keeping our connections to God and to each other.
God's ways are amazing. Who knows why sometimes we experience discouragement and frustration, why things do not seem to be going right. Yet God has a plan and is working things out if we will let Him use us and give ourselves freely to Him and to His service.