I have to confess, I had no idea I would ever be attending Joni and Friends Family Camp. For years I have been moved as I listened to testimonies from short-term missionaries (STMs) and kept up on Facebook while so many from our body faithfully served, but I never thought I would be one of them. I have always been thankful that our church is so involved in such a worthy ministry, but I had never felt called to go as I have thought that serving the Lord in that capacity was too far out of my level of comfort. After all, I have ministries that I feel better equipped and more suited for right here at home.
The only reason I even considered going was that my son, Noah, had been talking about serving at Joni and Friends for almost a year. When the time came for him to sign up, he had some apprehension. After discussing it with him and Michael, we felt it would be a good idea that I attend with him. We thought it would be a great opportunity for Noah and I to serve together.
As the time grew closer for us to leave, I started to get a little anxious. As my nervousness grew, so did Noah’s excitement. His enthusiasm, along with kind and encouraging words from those who had gone before, made me realize that in spite of my feeling very inadequate to do this work, I knew that God had brought me to this place and He would equip me for whatever I might encounter.
At camp, when I received information about my camper, I felt fearful of being able to do my job. This responsibility seemed beyond what I could handle. It was then that I finally realized this was not about my skills or what I felt comfortable doing, or even about serving with Noah. This was about God showing His strength in my weakness, and He did it over and over again throughout the trip.
That week I was way out of my comfort zone, but God gave me comfort. I felt extremely weak, but He gave me strength. I felt completely inadequate, but He filled me with confidence in Him. I learned a lot at Joni and Friends that I would not have learned at home. I learned that serving does not always mean feeling comfortable and confident, that there is peace in humility, and God truly is my refuge. I also learned firsthand why everyone treasures that time so dearly and looks forward to returning.
At camp I relied on God more than I had in a long time, which was so freeing. The Bible verse that best describes my experience at Joni and Friends is Isaiah 40:29, “He gives power to the faint, and to him who has no might he increases strength.” I feel blessed to have experienced this first hand and would encourage anyone who might have feelings of inadequacy to remember that God is faithful to strengthen us to do the work He has prepared for us. To Him be the glory.