by Grant Wilkie
“Spins, will you pray with me to help me accept Jesus?”
These eleven words have been seared in my mind since they were spoken to me on July 23rd, 2019, the second Tuesday of Overflow D (Week 9). They have become a part of me, a driving force within my story. This summer, I was the Shores Overflow Program Director. By the very nature of my job, margin to step back from the program and intentionally interact with campers was few and far in between. Yet on that Tuesday morning, I was chosen to walk through salvation with a beautifully broken high school junior who finally listened to the desperate desire with which his heart was crying out to Jesus Christ.
That morning I was tired, worn down, inadequately equipped, homesick, missing college, distracted, and hungry. Yet God chose me as the vessel by which He would call His son home. Make no mistake—I wasn’t the hero of the story. I was a wannabe Moses, except instead of living with a speech impediment, I have a lazy eye. It wasn’t my words that convinced him of God’s goodness—it was the irresistible love of Christ that surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19). This young man was compelled to action by the truth found in Titus 3:5: “He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit.”
He saw God working at Pine Cove and he wanted to be a part of it. Because of the ministry being done at the Pine Cove Shores, I have a new brother in Christ.
Countless moments like this, in cabins and across camp, kept me coming back for three full summers. Throughout my nine months at the Shores, the Lord has again and again made His presence known throughout every aspect of camp. In the lives of my campers, I learned of the Lord’s faithfulness and compassion for the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3). From the correction of my community, I learned to love discipline and not hate reproof (Proverbs 12:1). Under the burden of leadership, I learned the value of excellence and my absolute inability to meet any sort of standard without the beautiful grace of Christ within me (Ephesians 2:8-9). By the example of our full-time staff, I learned to humble myself as a servant, despite my prideful nature, and to commit to loving others as Christ would (John 13:34-35).
Through my time at the Shores, I learned to trust that “the Lord is the strength of His people” (Psalm 28:8). I came into my first summer a broken boy, riddled by shame and guilt from my past. I stand now, three summers later, a man transformed by the overflow of God that I have largely seen here in the beautiful piney woods of East Texas.
Surprisingly, as I share stories from my time at camp, it is never the stories of fun and craziness that convince people to work at camp. Apparently, nobody really cares that Granny and I created a Shores Skit Universe at the Shores this summer. Nobody cares about my post-TAPS Avalon dance parties, or when I convinced 100 Week 6 campers to do the Pacer Test as a senior counselor.
Instead, it is consistently the story of life transformation that I myself experienced during my time at the Shores that draws people in. The magnetic force behind every story at Pine Cove is the overwhelming grace of God that changes billions of eternities throughout history and continues to redeem and reconcile souls to this very day, at camp and beyond. People see that Pine Cove changed my life, that it has changed the lives of thousands of campers and staff across its half-century of ministry, and they want to find the same thing. Simply put, what is happening at Pine Cove is refreshing, captivating, and good—and it’s working.
As Pine Cove continues to develop, I pray we remain firm in our mission and commit to loving in truth so more may taste and see that He is good. In the busy recruiting season and the chaos of preparation for next summer, remember what is at stake. 1 Thessalonians 2:8 says, “So, being affectionately desirous of you, we were ready to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own selves, because you had become very dear to us.” This is what happens every day at Pine Cove as we fight together for the mission of Christ. We love others by sharing God’s truth and our lives. By others faithfully living out this mission at camp, my life was changed.
Thousands of campers and staff will be here in the blink of an eye for summer 2020—get ready to harvest.
Posted Jan 15, 2020