Overall, I really like Wednesdays. Growing up, I would go to Buffalo Wild Wings on Wednesday nights with my family and family friends to get 99 cent kids meals. In middle school, I would go to church on Wednesday nights. In high school, Wednesdays were late starts during the school year, and it meant I could sleep in or go to breakfast with important people. Throughout my freshman year, I would go to a nursing home every Wednesday evening to spend time with residents. I really like Wednesdays. I’d go as far to say that I love Wednesdays.
I’m currently working at a Christian youth day camp, and God is so, so good. There are so many precious moments which have occurred within the past five weeks, ones I hope to never forget. In fact, most of my favorite memories have occurred on various Wednesdays. Each morning and afternoon, small groups take place. Typically, there is one counselor and about 10 students in a group, except for Wednesday afternoon. Each Wednesday afternoon, the entire team (20 kids and 2-3 counselors) sit in a big circle, intently focused. In my experiences, the campers have open ears and quiet mouths. They carry a new respect. Their souls are hungry. They come with no expectations, just eagerness to know more.
These campers have just come from a session about the Gospel. They have just learned about God’s plan to save the world. Throughout the week, they have learned that they were created perfectly in His image; they have also learned that their sin separates them from God. They have learned that God loves them too much to let that separation continue. They have learned about some of Jesus’ ministry here on earth. In the session, they have just learned that there is still hope because God sent His only Son to give life to everyone. Everyone. Everyone includes the liars, the stealers, the murderers, the adulterers, those who dishonor their parents, those who are prideful, the sick, the weak, the bullies, and even those who do not love God. They, as cute and lovely as they are, fall into the category of sinners and are in desperate need of a Savior. I also am no different. They have learned that all they must do is accept this free gift of new life out of a love and longing for God. They have learned that God desires to make them clean and end the separation present.
The small group begins; one by one, each counselor shares his/her testimony. When it is my turn, I tell my campers that knowing Jesus has changed my life. I tell them about the hard days. I tell them about days when I felt alone, days when I felt loved. I remind them God has been there through it all. I tell them about the mission trips I’ve been on. I tell them of the day I got baptized. I tell them I have found new joy. I tell them I have found genuine community and overwhelming love. I share how I am redeemed and called daughter. Sometimes, confused expressions are present. Sometimes, there are smiles. Mostly, there is a spirit of yearning, yearning for more, yearning for more of Jesus. At the end, they ask questions. My favorite question, however, is how do I accept Jesus into my heart?
Today, we told them to close their eyes. “Raise your hand if you have already accepted Jesus into your heart.” Six hands raise. “Raise your hand if you are unsure about if you have accepted Jesus into your heart or if you would like recommit your life to Jesus.” Four hands raise. “Raise your hand if you would like to accept Jesus into your heart for the first time today.” Eight. Eight hands raise. Eight hands which soon will represent eight new lives. Eight new brothers and sisters in the kingdom. Eight new stories of redemption and God’s goodness. Eight new children who can share Jesus with others.
After they raised their hands, we told them to take a minute or two and tell Him what was on their heart. Did they want Him to clean something specific out of their heart? Did they need to feel loved? Did they need to pause and thank God for this beautiful gift? Did they need to remove something in their life in order to make room for Jesus? We sat in silence for two minutes as mouths silently moved. Words, so many words, headed up to the One who hears each one at the same time. To the One who loves each child so, so, so much, To the One who promises new life. To the One who changes lives. To the One who has bought each of these campers at a price.
God, we know we are sinners. We know we have messed up. We know we are imperfect; we know are hearts are filled with some bad things. We know that our sin separates us from You. But we also know that You love us too much to let that separation continue. We know that You have sent Your Son to take our place. God, today we accept that gift of salvation. We accept Your freedom and love. We accept You; we want You to be king of our hearts. Please forgive us. Make us clean. Lead us according to Your plan. We love you, God. Thank you for providing. Thank you for being a God of love. Thank you for being a God of mercy. Amen.
Today, we told them to continually think the words “yes, Lord” over and over in their head if they wanted to accept Jesus into their hearts this glorious Wednesday afternoon. Some heads were nodding, many lips were moving. My friends, in that moment, I couldn’t help but smile. It was a big smile, one of those goofy ones that wrinkles your eyes. It was a smile that couldn’t be removed. It was a smile of joy, of great joy. It was a smile of celebration of new life. I felt goosebumps up and down my arms; the chills filled my entire body.
You see, Wednesdays at camp are considered GOSPEL Wednesdays. GOSPEL literally means “good news” and refers to God’s beautiful gift of new life. GOSPEL Wednesdays encompass a beautiful, redeeming proclamation. An invitation, a challenge. A true testimony of goodness and grace. A chance for new. An invitation for new life. Of pure, relentless joy. Of faith and fellowship. Of celebration of God’s mercy. An oh, how I absolutely love GOSPEL Wednesdays. What a beautiful opportunity to share life!
I’ve been wondering why GOSPEL Wednesday only happens ten times each year. I wonder why GOSPEL Wednesday is often put on hold as camp ends and will only be resumed when camp begins again. I wonder why GOSPEL Wednesday doesn’t happen fifty-two days, or even three hundred and sixty-five days, each year. Where is my sense of urgency? Where is my boldness? Where is my passion, my eagerness?
I’m making a goal. This year, I want to make each Wednesday a GOSPEL Wednesday, and I want you to consider joining me. Fifty-two people each year will have the opportunity to hear a beautiful and honest proclamation of God’s invitation to new life. Honestly, I’m scared. I’m not quite sure how I’m going to be able to truly accomplish this goal. Then, my friends, I think about how short this life is. I think about the hopelessness in the world. I think of the potential I have. I think of the beauty of this goal and the impact it can have. Will you join me?
Each GOSPEL Wednesday, I am aiming to share some of my testimony. It doesn’t have to be long. During camp, we make a child-friendly, four-minute version. We briefly cover our life before Jesus, highlight important encounters with Him, and spend the most time emphasizing our life after accepting Jesus as our Savior. Then, we ask if they have questions. I’ve decided that it’s okay if nothing happens in that moment. It’s okay if people wrinkle their eyebrows at you or walk away. It’s okay if people don’t ask further questions. It’s okay if three thousand people aren’t saved instantly. Right now, I am yearning for boldness and intentionality. If they do ask questions, answer them as best as you can or point them to someone who can answer them better. I want to create opportunities for honest conversation. Then, pray for those people you have talked to. It’s really that simple.
Just some thoughts.
And oh, my friends, God is so good. He is a God of redemption and love. He is a God of justice, and He is to be feared. How awe-some is our God? How beautiful, how merciful, how patient, how absolutely incredible is He?
“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” Philippians 4:4