My daddy used to say discernment requires asking the right questions. I agree.
Take an apple orchard for example. One can look at the tree and ask how many bushels of apples are on the tree. Take a bushel of apples and count how many pies can be made. Finally, cut open the apple, take out the seeds and wonder how many trees are in the apple. The questions of discernment for the orchard are: Has the tree faithfully produced? Was the harvest received in hope? Has the future been claimed as blessing yet to come?
Here's an example of being faithful to the Gospel's call. The folks in Charlotte, North Carolina, thought the evangelists were preaching way too radical a sermon for 1923. But evangelist Mordecai Fowler Ham discerned he was doing the will of God and kept on talking about sin and the need for grace. Some of the youth in the community decided to come and see what the uproar was about. That night, the Rev. Ham preached the Gospel with his direct message of salvation. At the service many youth came forward to give their lives to Christ. One of those youth was a young man named Billy Graham. The preacher was faithful, the youth received Christ, and the Rev. Billy Graham became a blessing to millions as he preached the Gospel of salvation.
People look at the camping ministry and ask the questions of discernment. What was the attendance at camp last summer? How many youth gave their lives to Christ? Did any make a decision to go into ministry?
Here are numbers that reflect the 2008 North Indiana "Impact 2818" camps. In 2008, 3,000 children and youth took part in the camping ministry. Of those,
- 387 committed their lives to Christ for the first time,
- 815 recommitted their lives to Christ and
- 773 celebrated Christ as Lord and Savior.
At senior high camp, 105 youth answered a call to Christian ministry.
Discernment is asking the right questions so the answers make sense. Now that's a blessing.
Jean Brindel, CFRE, AFP, serves as Development Officer of the former Northern Indiana Conference of the The United Methodist Church. She lives in Carmel, Ind.
If you or someone you love would like to attend church camp this summer, or if you would like to make a gift to the North Indiana camping ministry, or just want more information, log on to www.impact2818.com. A similar Web site is available for camping ministry in South Indiana at www.sicumc.org/outdoorministries.