Thanks to all of you praying for us and our youth "camp." God really answered all the prayers. I am posting here two pictures from the fire so you can see what you were praying against. One is a view (slightly zoomed) from our driveway. The tiny dot in the smoke just above the trees is a very large air tanker! The second picture is from the lower part of our property looking over our property to the plume behind it (our home is just behind the hill in the center). The wind changed, the fire turned, and our community was saved. Thank you! Thank You God! (For you who are signed up to get this on email, I am sorry for posting two pictures. I hope it didn't take too long to download, I tried to make them small. I just felt you would value seeing what we were seeing since you were with us here in prayer.)
The youth arrived back here about 9 am (including the one that wasn't answering her phone or door) and we had a great meal of pancakes, etc. We then settled in to the classes. We taught the kids about the battle around them, and for them; about how you can't build a solid house that is bigger than the foundation you build it on is able to support; about spiritual warfare; about the example Jesus set for taking time away from ministry to be alone with the Father; about understanding how the Bible is laid out and how to read verse references; about how God does not despise their youth and how they can be revolutionaries to dream big and change a generation and a nation---at the age they are at now; and so much more.
Three times during the camp we sent the youth out around our yard and home for quiet time. For many of them it was the first time they had ever taken it---just them and God alone together. We wouldn't let them take watches or anything. The first time we kept them out a little over 20 minutes (we added 5 minutes each time) and most came in amazed because they said it was too short. We had first read them the parable of the seeds and soil, and then we had taken a walk where we showed them places that birds had snatched seed we had planted and scattered; soil where we had planted grain in the last rain and it had sprouted but then withered and died, fields where the thorns and weeds were choking out the good grasses, and our garden bed where we water it, fertilize it, and tend it. Their first quiet time we asked them to ask God what kind of soil their own heart was, and then to just listen to what He might tell them.
The second quiet time we had them read about Peter walking on the water and then asked them a bunch of questions about it---what is the most beautiful verse in it to you? Is there a promise in there for you? Is God asking something of you in it? What is your response? Plus, a lot more. The third quiet time we just let them go out unscripted. It was amazing how God spoke to those youth, and I believe that many of them were amazed that He did as well.
We watched some videos on a 6' screen out on the lawn at night, including an incredible presentation from the Passion tour about how huge and amazing and indescribable our God is and how the heavens reveal that. It was really, really awesome to do that under the night sky (a sky clear of smoke, by the way!). We ended up, totally unscripted, watching a second Passion presentation the next morning about God and how amazing He is and how that is revealed in the size of the stars and in the intricate center of our molecules. Those videos really grabbed the youth and we have decided to show them on the big screen at church in the fall and see how many people we can bring to see it. The youth are really fired up about that.
I could write all day about what happened, but I wanted to just share a slice of it with you. Probably one of the best parts was when a former youth grouper who we had as a counselor picked up his guitar in the morning and started playing it. A girl in the youth group who is on our church's worship team sat down and started singing, and we brought our keyboard down for her. We debated calling the kids in, but then decided to let them play or whatever while we were cleaning up breakfast and just see what God did. Soon, totally on their own, every person at the camp was in the living room singing worship songs! Man, God's Spirit was all over it! Everyone, from Bethany and Abigail, to the youth, to the staff, was touched and changed by God. Thanks, again, for your prayers.