At eighteen, I was having a long, boring, fewer-friends summer right after graduation. (1*) That was the main reason I accepted the invite from my friend Willma to go to a Christian camp the first part of September. The second reason was to hopefully start understanding what all this ‘born again’ and ‘saved’ stuff meant.
A full-day bus drive from western Washington to Montana, filled with twenty or so college-aged folks.
That bus load was meeting lots of other groups from other places at that campground for about a week. The drive was a bit uncomfortable for me, having never been around so many at one time who said things like ‘God did this’ or ‘God did that.’ – I’m so glad Willma can blend right in with them. I’ll just keep smiling and look like I understand what they’re talking about.
I met more people once we got to this beautiful retreat campsite. But one question kept popping up each time I met someone new. Most asked me, “When were you saved?” or “How long have you been a Christian?” I was a weeeeee bit uncomfortable being I was totally ignorant of what all that meant. Since I was baptized when I was an infant, I was already convinced I was going to heaven. Of course, the priest at St. Francis never used the words ‘saved’ or ‘Christian,’ so being around others who shared that vocabulary was all new to me.
“I’ve been Catholic all my life,” was my answer to the first few who asked. —That doesn’t sound right. I’d better word it more like others here do. — “I’ve been saved all my life.” (That sure felt weird to say.) That must be better. Now I sound like everyone else.
I was enjoying those first few days, meeting nice people and hearing many interesting messages about how God, Jesus, and the Spirit apply to our daily life, many things I had never heard before. And not only had I never heard these types of messages before, but never by a college aged man standing up in front, all kicked-back wearing jeans! I learned that first evening that “normal” people can know the Bible. And to top it off, that you don’t have to wear a robe like a priest to preach. “Learn something new every day” seemed to fit right in that first evening and each day that followed.
As days went by, I liked this camp even more. These people seem rather normal. I’m getting used to all this ‘saved’ stuff, and sort of understanding a few things about it now too.
The last night there, serious yet fun speeches, skits, and songs were performed by a few groups of individual campers, along with the final message. My friend Willma an I were in one group of six, singing a humorous song with a biblical theme. (Willma is the farthest right and I’m next to her with that beautiful fluffed up hair.)
I’ll never forget watching all the people laugh as we sang.
Our song came to an end; time to sit down.
A little bit later, another lady about my age went up to sing a Christian song. Being I was unaware of any Christian radio stations, I never had heard that song she sang, and nothing outstanding stood out about it. I even thought her voice wasn’t that wonderful, but boy, I’ll still never forget it. God decided that evening to, during that song, unlock someone’s heart: mine.