Scenic view of trees at camp

A Sticky Note Prayer

by Jenny Sowers Rutland

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“It was so clear that God was implementing every single detail and answering every little prayer,” Mallory recalls as she tells her story of seeing God’s faithfulness at camp. “And during weeks one through nine, there were times of doubt, but I was still in continual prayer without even realizing it. All throughout those nine weeks, God was answering prayers.”

Mallory “Pockets” Wise served on staff at the Ridge high school camp during the summers of 2020 and 2021. When her first summer was cut short due to the effects of Covid-19, she knew she had to return to camp for another summer. She came back in 2021 and worked a full summer as a cook and counselor.

As a cook, she was living with the same six people for the first half of the summer: the other five cooks and the assistant work crew director. Because the group was so tight-knit, they had a prayer board in their bathroom where each person could hang sticky notes with prayer requests written on them. There were three categories on the board: requests, praying, and answered. During week one, Mallory hung her sticky note in the requests section: “My little brother will come to camp.”

Mallory’s parents divorced when she was young, and she grew up as the middle child between two brothers—and two parents who shared custody. She and her younger brother, Nick, butted heads while growing up, as many siblings do. It wasn’t until she moved out for college that they both realized how much they missed each other and slowly crossed over that threshold from siblings to friends.

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Having been through a lot as children—divorced parents, negative church experiences for Nick, and a mother who struggled through many hardships—Mallory knew the importance of her brother being around people that truly love Jesus and at a place where he could just have fun. 

“God, if this is something you want to happen, then please let your will be done,” she would pray. “He doesn’t need camp for his life to be changed, but it would be cool for him to see Christianity from a different perspective.” Mallory was praying for Nick throughout her time at camp, and was surprised to see that one day her sticky note was moved into the “praying” category on their bathroom prayer wall. “I don’t know who was praying, but essentially the whole girl staff knew I wanted my brother to come to camp.” 

The weekend before the final session of camp, Mallory’s father and brother, Nick, came from Louisiana to visit her at the Ridge. She was so excited to host them since her dad has been a spiritual leader and best friend to her, and she had been praying for Nick. As any excited Pine Cove counselor would, she showed them all around camp and each activity. Nick took a particular interest in the very last activity before exiting camp. “Is that a slick track?!” Nick exclaimed. Seeing a glimmer of hope, Mallory prayed the simplest of prayers, “Okay, Lord.”

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Before she could pray any other words, Nick said how cool camp seemed and that he wished he could go, but with the last week of camp starting the very next day, how could he? Then came even more reasons why he couldn’t: “I don’t want to offend you guys, but I am agnostic,” Nick said. 

“Christianity is implemented in all we do here, but you’re having so much fun that you don’t even realize that you’re glorifying God through what you’re doing,” Mallory reassured him.

“Okay, well I don’t have any clothes?” Nick questioned.

“No problem, I can find you clothes! There are guy staffers here with plenty of clothes.”

“What about bedding?”

“I have bedding that I can give you, and extra sheets.”

Out of reasons not to come, Nick was ready to be a camper if Mallory could make it happen. Unsure if there was availability and if her dad could afford it, Mallory called her camp director, TJ “Philly” Connor, to see if it was possible. TJ, knowing that this is the very reason Project 319 exists, responded, “How about $250?”

“I instantly broke down in tears,” Mallory recalls from that moment. “I ran up into my cabin and took the sticky note from ‘praying’ and moved it to ‘answered!’” 

Mallory texted the Ridge staff in their GroupMe, and within minutes the male staff at the Ridge provided Nick with all the clothes he needed for a week of camp. Mallory and her family were amazed as the body of Christ so readily and generously provided everything Nick needed to be at camp.

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During that final week of summer 2021, Mallory was assigned to be on work crew, which was another unexpected blessing, as she had more time to spend with her brother when she didn’t have a specific task. “He was the star of the show that week at camp and won a dance contest,” she says with a broad smile. “Everyone loved him.” 

Many seeds were planted in Nick’s life that week. “Before he came to camp, Nick was hurt by the church and felt like Christians were brainwashed. He never felt included by the kids in his grade,” Mallory explains. “His intentionality and maturity have changed a lot. I can see how much his character has matured and how he interacts with our family.” 

What Mallory often reflects on is that her brother could have come any other week during that summer, but instead he came during the very last one. She knows that God was intentional in the timing as He used it to mature her faith and display His own faithfulness. 

“Through that experience, I learned a lot of patience and just realized that there is nothing my flesh can do to make any of this happen,” she says. Mallory sees how God is always at work—planting seeds, orchestrating details, and weaving people into the right places at the right time. 

When asked what Mallory would tell others who may be in a season of waiting, she says, “It can’t be done alone. You can sit there and set high expectations for God because God is going to move either way. Just keep praying, hold your ground, and at the end of the day it’s not up to us, but up to the Lord.”

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Posted Jul 17, 2022

Jenny Sowers Rutland

Former Staff

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