Youth experience significant spiritual milestones at camp

By Meri Beth Arbogast

Published: August 1, 2019

Zip lines, blobs, crazy cheers and chants are just a few things that come to mind when someone mentions Crossings Camps. One of my favorite parts of the Cedarmore campus is a pile of rocks stacked outside of the worship center. That may not sound exciting to most, but last year as a part of the closing celebration, my youth group signed a rock of our own and placed it with the others as an "Ebenezer," a remembrance of what God had done there that summer. This simple pile of rocks represents significant spiritual milestones for my church's students.

Brandon Porter/Western Recorder photo

Pastor Nick Arbogast (center), his wife Meri Beth, and chaperone Dustin Warren lead a Bible study at Crossings.

Crossings is a special place for students. It's a place of new beginnings where thousands of students have placed their faith in Christ and crossed over from death to life. For some, it is a place of remembrance of how God has grown them into the image of Christ. And for others, it is the place where God began to prepare their hearts to receive the good news of Jesus.

This summer, my church group witnessed two of our students, who weren't even originally scheduled to attend camp with us, place their faith in Christ. Our church's youth leaders have walked with them through their struggles and questions about the gospel and faith over the past couple years. It was a gift from God to let us see those seeds blossom at Crossings as we welcomed two new brothers into the family of God.

Last year, I sat front row as two other students who are very dear to me repented of their sins and placed their faith in Christ. I got to walk through my church's curriculum for new believers with one of them, and when it was time for her to be baptized, the pastor asked her to share her testimony with the congregation. I listened as she told her incredible story of how God brought her from death to life at Crossings, and I wept as I reflected on how humbled I was that God would use me in one small part of her story.

Brandon Porter/Western Recorder photo

This year as we returned to camp, I rejoiced at the fruit that God has produced in her since that time. I felt as if I could see the Spirit working in her mind as we studied the Beatitudes in Matthew 5 and she asked the question, "Why does God show mercy to us when we didn't show Him any mercy?"

Other students who are believers asked questions all week like…

• "What are some scriptures for preaching the gospel to my atheist friends?"

• "What scriptures tell us how to truly know Jesus versus just knowing facts about Jesus?"

• "How can I explain to others that God isn't prideful for telling everybody to give Him glory?"

Brandon Porter/Western Recorder photo

While not all of our students believed the gospel that week, we were still able to plant seeds through intentional conversations with them about the immense love that God has shown us through Christ, the depth of their sin against God, and their desperate need for repentance and faith. My prayer is that perhaps next year, those students will attend camp with us a gain, but this time as brothers and sisters.

The ground at Crossings isn't holy, and there's nothing special in the water that transforms sinners into sons of God. But it is a place where students are free from distraction, homework and extracurricular activities that so often take precedence over church attendance and spiritual disciplines. God told us what would happen when we study His Word and ask the Spirit to move — He makes disciples. And I consider it an immense privilege to be able to join Him in the work that He is doing in our students.

Meri Beth Arbogast is accounts receivable/ magazine marketing assistant for the Western Recorder. She attended Crossings Camp as a chaperone with her husband, Nick.