August 18, 2011

Anecdotal evidence

Yesterday I got a call from Pastor Gary at Rush Creek Bible Church, the church I grew up in and the one I still consider my "home church," though I've been gone for years, it seems. Since tonight is the Men for Missions Steak Fry, they asked me to come and share a short story about what God has been doing in Puerto Rico. I told him sure, I'd be happy to - After all: Public speaking is no longer a big deal for me. (Sidenote: Public speaking is still a big deal for me.)

And so I immediately started to think about what I would share. I get one story, one anecdote from the summer, and I need to make it count. And as I cycled through my memories from my time so far in Puerto Rico, I started to realize that most of my big impressions have to do with my personal growth. I need to get up in front of these guys and share something about the ministry, a story about where I saw God doing big things in the lives of the kids, counselors, others around the ministry.

And the thing is...

I'm struggling to come up with one.

That doesn't mean God didn't do big things. It just means I didn't see a lot of them firsthand. Maybe there's a disconnect somewhere. I know our counselors have some big things they would share, and I wish they could be here to do it. As a program director, especially in my first year, I spent a lot of time planning, putting out fires, preparing the next thing, processing the last thing, recovering, sweating, cleaning, thinking. And that doesn't leave a lot of time to be actively involved in the present. In other words, not a lot of time in direct heart-to-heart perfect-for-a-story-back-home ministry. I spent a lot of time trying to make sure everything was right for others to do that, but not a whole lot doing that myself.

To some extent, that is the job of the director - you're supposed to make sure that the goals are met, let others handle the tasks. I would be a terrible micromanager. But I still think that somewhere along the way, I would have gotten a pretty good anecdote to share.

There are anecdotes. There are naughty kids, crazy games - and confusing ones, the kid who puked during Fear Factor, the darnedest things kids said, and other summer camp anomalies. Generally, the stuff that goes wrong makes for better stories. It's low-hanging fruit when it comes to reflection. But it doesn't always make for inspiring stuff for the folks back home.

And so I think, in the 2-3 minutes I get, I won't be sharing just one small touching anecdote, but one big one - that we had a good summer, that kids learned that they need to live fearlessly as followers of Christ, that a few made decisions to turn their lives to Him for the first time, and that they had a lot of fun doing it.

And, of course, that nobody got seriously injured in the process.

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