According to Genesis chapter 22, God blessed Abraham that he might be a blessing. Abraham believed God, so he lived out his life serving God that he might receive blessing and then serving God that he might be a blessing - Blessed to be a Blessing.
Recently, I had the privilege of breaking bread with a young man who also sees himself as Blessed to be a Blessing.
Alex Wulpi is a 19-year-old member of Leo United Methodist Church. In his junior year of high school, he began to explore the military. The U.S. Marine Corps made the most sense to him, so after much prayer and discussion with his parents and youth pastor, Alex and his parents signed on the dotted line. He would go into the Marines the summer after graduation.
Faith is an important part of Alex's life. His family is one of those who are in church every Sunday. His parents are the ones who are called when a driver is needed for a youth event, or who stay late to put away tables after an activity at church. He comes from a bedrock church family. I wasn't really all that surprised when his mother told me that Alex had made his decision out of faith and a call to service. But it took my breath when she told me that he had set his induction and basic training date for the Marines in July so he could attend church camp at Epworth Forest, our United Methodist center in North Webster, Ind., - just one more time.
Alex told me "You know how it is at camp; you are exposed to all this love and being part of that great community. The atmosphere of being in a place where the spirit of God is flowing so freely, you don't have to worry about anything, you can just love and be loved. I needed to have that with me before I went to boot camp."
While we talked, I asked him how boot camp had gone. He said after he figured out the system, it was kind of fun.
"At first the mental part was hard, then, that got easier and the physically stuff got harder."
Then I asked him if being at Epworth Forest before induction had helped.
He responded, "You know how it is, when you get back from church camp, that feeling of being loved and having the spirit stays with you. I kept that feeling with me all the time I was in boot camp, and it made all the difference." He continued, "Epworth Forest changes your life; one week will turn your life around."
To all those folks who have invested their time, money and love into the camping ministry of The United Methodist Church, and on behalf of Alex and all those other young men and women who have been blessed by God, Thank you for being a blessing.
Alex is the son of Jim and Marsha Wulpi of Leo, Ind. He is in security in the infantry of the U.S. Marine Corps.
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.