My decision to serve as a leader at MSM camp took years to make…literally.

A few years ago, as the “all-call” went out to help us build our community on the East Side, I felt one of those strange urgings—you know, one of the ones that would never come from your own mind—to volunteer in Middle School Ministry.

We had been through a lot with my daughter in her early teen years, and it was weighing on my heart. The problem: I was 42 years old. How could I relate to a Middle School student? I didn’t speak Fortnite or wear skinny jeans (nor would my daughter let me). What did I have to offer?

A friend challenged me to lean into my discomfort, so I decided to throw caution to the wind.

A few months later, my daughter had made a few friends and asked my permission to go to MSM Camp. It was the summer leading into her big transition to Junior High and I saw Camp as an opportunity for her to spend time with her new friends and with God—to reflect and to prepare her heart for the next year.

I said yes with one stipulation: “Wait until you get home to be baptized, if you feel the urge.” I feared that peer pressure or the emotional “high” of a mountaintop experience like Camp might cloud her judgment about such a life-changing decision.

Fast forward: my daughter is at Camp— and we get a phone call from the East Side MSM leader (who was aware of our reservations). He says he has someone that wanted to talk with us and puts our daughter on the phone.

“Hey, Dad. I’m having such an amazing time. I know how you and Mom feel about me getting baptized here, and I understand. But there’s something different. Something’s happening inside of me. I feel like this is the time… I’m ready.”

Through tears of joy, my wife and I gave our blessing. Our daughter came home a new young woman, with a new and expanded set of friends, and a heart on fire for God. Because of her experience, she had the strength and eagerness to step into Junior High with confidence and community.

The next year, I was asked to serve as a leader at MSM Camp. Again, immediate fear and reservations. What if I ruin my daughter’s time at camp? I’m not really that fun. Also…I don’t camp!

But I had learned from my last experience that when I lean into discomfort, God uses it in amazing ways—so I did it. And once again, He showed up…big time.

At Camp, I had the opportunity to connect with my small group of young men that I had been seeing every weekend, but in a fresh way. At Camp, I was able to hear more of their stories and better understand their experiences as teenagers struggling to find their identity in a world that tries so hard to do it for them. In just a few days, I learned more about their relationship with their families, their friends and their God.

I also got to connect with my daughter one-on-one—the type of thing I’d never have the opportunity (or access) to do in the fast-paced home environment. She shared all sorts of things with me, and gave me completely new insight into the beautiful person she was and was becoming.

I had the chance to meet and cultivate relationships with other leaders—those with and without kids in MSM—all with a huge heart for serving students. Once again, God reminded me that when I follow His prompting and step into discomfort, He meets me with blessings I could never imagine.


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