“I Have Never Experienced Anything Like That!”

December 2, 2022


Joel Fether
City Life East

It was Saturday night during our fall retreat. We had just returned to our cabins after our final activity of the evening, a “glow party” with loud music, games, face painting and lots of glow sticks. Everyone must have been tired because the mood quickly became laid back once we were in the cabin.

The boys were so relaxed they even wanted the lights turned off as they enjoyed talking and hanging out together. I was sitting on my bunk talking with another leader when suddenly, several of the boys circled up in the middle of the cabin. Things got more animated as they spontaneously started sharing their love for one another. They spoke of how they were brothers and how they had each other’s back. One of the boys, “Jordan”, has struggled with pain and anger all year in the wake of his father’s murder last Christmas. The other boys embraced Jordan and told him, “You don’t have your dad, but you have us!” Next, several of the boys spoke of how much City Life means to them and how thankful they are for the ministry and the leaders. Jordan came over to my bunk, hugged me, and thanked me for being there for him as he cried on my shoulder. Another boy, “Jamir”, also came over and hugged me and shared how thankful he was for how we have been there for his family (at least 10 of his cousins have been involved with City Life in the last five years).

I have been attending camps with Youth for Christ for 18 years. I have seen and experienced a lot in those years, but I have never been a part of anything like that. It was stunning. Even now, I struggle to understand what led to that moment. I can only conclude that what we experienced that night was a powerful work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of the boys.

We have been sharing the gospel with Jordan for months, and though he seemed to believe all the tenets of the gospel, the sorrow and hurt he feels from losing his dad has held him back from starting a relationship with God. But on Sunday morning during our final time together, students were asked to raise their hand if they had put their faith in Christ during the weekend — and Jordan’s hand went up! I can’t help but wonder if the love he experienced from the body of Christ the night before began to heal his heart and gave him what he needed to finally embrace Christ as Savior.

I am so thankful that I was able to witness what God did in our cabin that night. Ministry is hard. Anyone who steps forward to be a worker in God’s harvest field will encounter opposition, discouragement and suffering. Thank God for this blessed reminder of why we continue to labor week after week and year after year.