Volunteers for Jesus Reach Kids at Camp Meeting

As a child, growing up in South Africa, I remember singing the words, "Volunteers, volunteers, how I love the name. Volunteers, volunteers, Jesus to proclaim." You probably did too, if you are from the same era as I am. I just didn't realize that many years later that would be true in so many different ways and circumstances and that I would be dependent on volunteers to plan, lead and move forward in every aspect of the ministry to which God has called me.

If there is any ministry that needs volunteers more than any other it is children's ministries? I venture to say you can never have enough volunteers in children's ministries, you just need to help them find the right place to serve, where their talents can be used. 

Children's ministries volunteers have to be committed, enthusiastic and passionate about serving children. One of our volunteers says camp meeting is her favorite place to be all year long. They are often called upon to be creative and patient and always to be kind — quite a tall order that cannot be accomplished unless Christ is front and center in their lives.

The days of July 13–22, I had the privilege of working with a wonderful team of more than 100 volunteers and amazing pastors. You know them; you've seen them at your church. They work all year long in the children's Sabbath Schools, in the Adventurer and Pathfinder Club, and when all the fun begins at Vacation Bible School time. They are our unsung heroes. They have staying power. 

Why do they do it? It’s all about Jesus. It’s all about sharing Jesus with children who need to know, to understand, to experience His love in as tangible a way as possible. And did they accomplish this during this year’s Gladstone Camp Meeting? I am convinced they did. 

Here's one story told to me by a grandma of one of these children. She and her grandson were sent to find a picnic table for the family for lunch. They found one that was unoccupied except for someone lying on the grass in the vicinity. When they sat down they found out the sleeping man was not happy. That day the children had learned "God forgives you." So the 5-year-old boy turns to his grandma and says, "Gran, I need to go and ask that man’s forgiveness for taking his table." Off he trotted, watched by Grandma, who would have liked to listen in on the conversation, as would I.

When last did you or I take the lesson of the day to heart and put it into practice like this child did? No wonder Jesus said, "Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven" (Matt. 18:3).

Many children come to camp meeting with grandparents as their only church attendance for the year (something like a church intensive). One such grandchild, after being brought every summer, joined our team as a volunteer this year. We were thrilled to be able to continue to mentor her as a helper, and her grandparents were overjoyed that she loved volunteering so much.

This is why we do children's ministries at camp meeting: because Jesus loves the children and so do we.

August 19, 2017 / Oregon Conference
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