Caroline and Ashlen had a lot in common. They both were college students—Caroline (or “Chip,” as she’s known at Pine Cove) at the University of Texas, and Ashlen (aka “T-Feels”) at Ole Miss—who had been serving for several summers at the Pine Cove Timbers. Both were thriving in their roles, seeking after the Lord, and looking to return to camp again the following summer.
They also had something else in common: both were feeling burdened for their younger siblings. Caroline’s brother Jake and Ashlen’s brother Andrew were both drifting, and this pair of sisters were determined to see the boys dedicate their lives to Christ.
“It broke my heart that he didn’t understand grace at all,” Caroline says about Jake. She recalls a specific moment during the summer of 2020 when the Lord brought her an opportunity to express the power of the Gospel to her brother.
“I sat at a picnic table at the Timbers. Everyone was in the opening day meeting, and I was outside with my buff on and painting circles and on the phone with my younger brother, trying to explain the Gospel and the concept of grace to him. Because he just didn’t understand that.”
Ashlen too had been petitioning the Lord to grab a hold of her brother’s heart. She’d taken a small piece of paper and written one request on it: “Set Andrew’s heart on fire for You and have him seek after You.”
Soon, Ashlen and Caroline realized they were both praying for the exact same thing.
“[Caroline] was talking about how she had a brother who was not following the Lord and just living for the things of the world,” Ashlen recalls. “And I was like, ‘You know what? I feel burdened for my brother as well.’ And so we really just sat down and were praying and asking the Lord to soften their hearts, that they would come to know Him.”
After their time spent praying together that summer, Ashlen and Caroline each went back to their universities and continued to take their requests for their brothers to the Throne. And during that school year, by the grace of God, both Jake and Andrew’s hearts were captured for the Lord.
“I don’t know what it was that finally clicked in his mind,” Caroline marvels, “But he just was like, ‘Okay, yeah. This is what grace is. I’ve screwed up so much and God still loves me.’”
On Andrew’s birthday, Ashlen gave her brother a birthday card. Inside was the piece of paper on which she’d written her prayer for him: Set Andrew’s heart on fire for You. Have him seek after You.
“And then she gave it to me,” Andrew remembers, “And was like, ‘Here’s my answer to prayer.’ That was the first time in my life after coming to know the Lord I’d ever seen the Lord move in a way so specific like that.”
Both Andrew and Jake grew exponentially in their faith, and by the following summer, they each felt called to spend the following summer working at Pine Cove.
So how did the sisters feel about that?
“I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, this is gonna be so awesome for him!’” Caroline shares. “That’s how I was. I was such a new believer in college, and then went to this place and it was just such a catalyst for my faith. And so it was really exciting to see that he was gonna be there.
Ashlen was also thrilled to hear her brother would be following in her footsteps and serving at camp.
“I know the impact that Pine Cove had on my life and my walk with Christ,” Ashlen says, “And so I was just honestly really excited for him to experience that. And just to be challenged and sharpened, because camp is one of those places where you’re stretched beyond your limits. And you might be put in positions where you feel unequipped, but it’s in those uncomfortable moments that the Lord really uses them to make you dependent on Him and to sharpen you and to grow you into who He wants you to be!”
From the moment Andrew stepped on camp property, he knew he was at the right place—even in the midst of a downpour. As he pulled into the Timbers, Andrew was amazed to see people standing out in the rain, cheerfully waiting to welcome him.
“I’m like, ‘Dude, this person is literally insane. Like getting soaking wet to check me in,’” Andrew recalls. “It was such a culture shock, [going] from a small town of people wanting to become known and get rich quick to coming to camp and it’s like: ‘Let me serve you.’”
Jake and Caroline had a unique experience during Jake’s first summer; Caroline was still on staff, and they were able to serve at the Timbers together! Their sibling relationship flourished as they locked arms with the rest of the Timbers staff in service of God’s Kingdom.
“We got really close that summer,” Jake explains. “And that was the summer she asked me a lot of questions about what my faith was like, and spurred me on in making my faith my own.”
One summer of service for Jake and Andrew turned into two, and by the third, 2023, both found themselves stepping into leadership positions. The Lord had used their time to strengthen them and mold them into true men of God.
“I know who the Lord is, I know who I am in Christ,” Andrew asserts. “And putting those two together this summer has been really fun to lead out of and to feel the lightness of the Lord’s yoke. I’m doing what the Lord has put before me. And it doesn’t feel heavy… this is exactly what the Lord had for me.”
This third summer at camp has been a sweet time for both sets of siblings—even though Jake and Andrew are the only two still on staff at Pine Cove. (Caroline and Ashlen have both since graduated from college and gotten married.) Andrew and Ashlen speak frequently on the weekends, with Ashlen often asking how she can be in prayer for him.
“It’s cool to see how our relationship has changed because of Jesus,” Ashlen shares. “It’s not just, ‘Hey, we’re brother and sister because God put us in the same family on Earth.’ It’s the deeper unity in Christ as the body of believers. And so just to see the way that even that earthly relationship has transformed in Christ has been sweet too.”
Looking back, neither set of siblings could have predicted what the Lord would do in their lives, how He’d use Caroline and Ashlen in prayer for their brothers, the way He’d bring Jake and Andrew to work at camp, or how He’d use them to lead other Godly men as part of the Timbers leadership team.
It all goes back to one thing: prayer.
“This is something that I always look back to [as] a marker in my life of something tangible that I can see the Lord has done and that He’s continued to be faithful,” Ashlen says. “Andrew’s salvation and the growth that’s happened in his life is something I constantly catch myself praising God for… I’m just in awe of who God is and what He’s done in Andrew’s life, and just excited to see how He continues to use Andrew. Because I know He’s not done.”
For his part, Andrew knows how influential his sister’s prayers were in his journey to faith. When he reflects on that piece of paper containing Ashlen’s plea for his salvation, he knows it’s all been part of God’s bigger plan.
“It’s cool to think about like, ‘Man, if they didn’t pray that specific of a prayer… what would my life look like now?’”
Posted Sep 6, 2023