Life-Changing Camps Provide Summer Opportunities for Students
The Lord Used MFuge to ‘Reveal My Ultimate Purpose
If someone were to ask me what event or experience had the biggest impact on my life, I would say, without hesitation, “MFuge.” I attended for the first time in the summer of 2009 as a college-age chaperone while serving as a youth intern under the direction of Rob Hemphill. I was excited to go but also nervous because I was expected to lead students in a place I had never been to. As the Lord always equips those He calls, He guided me through an incredible week of camp in Birmingham, Ala.
MFuge is a camp that feels much more like a mission trip. Not only is there Bible study and worship, but we serve with missional organizations all over the city. The Lord showed up in so many ways. I was able to bond with the students in the youth group, get out of my comfort zone to share the gospel, and hear from God so clearly. Audra Hemphill, Rob’s wife, said it best: “We have seen exponential growth in students through MFuge.” Even as a college student, I experienced tremendous growth in my faith, and the course of my life was changed because of MFuge.
I recognized the call to student ministry while I was in college. One of the major steps into that calling was serving as a Fuge Camps staffer. In 2011, I spent my first summer on staff, in Glorieta, New Mexico. I had no idea what to expect, but the Lord was ready and waiting to teach me an essential, unforgettable lesson: the importance of connection.
There is something so beautiful and inspiring about a team of people who have one vision: to make Jesus known. I never truly understood what the Lord intended the church to look like until I worked for Fuge Camps. Each team I served with was a near perfect representation of the body of Christ.
First Corinthians 12:27-28 says: “Now you are the body of Christ, and individual members of it. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, next miracles, then gifts of healing, helping, administrating, various kinds of tongues” (CSB).
Each person on our team had different talents and strengths. We needed one another, just like the human body is at its best when all the parts are functioning properly. The Kingdom work that the Lord accomplished through us was exponentially greater than anything we could have accomplished as individuals. How timely it was for the theme of my first summer with Fuge to be “Connect” and for me to realize the importance of living life in the context of gospel-centered community.
Fast forward to the summer of 2013. As much as I loved my first summer of Fuge, I had no intentions of working it again. Why? I was 24 and thought it was time to land a job in the “real world.” Little did I know, the Lord had something different in mind. I received a call from a camp friend in mid-April about the need for a Fuge staffer in Mobile, Ala. I was only working part time, so I gladly accepted the position, and the rest is history. The theme that summer was “The Big Picture,” and it was at that point that I really began to understand the sovereignty of God. He was using the summers on staff to sharpen my skills as a teacher, mentor and leader.
I spent seven summers with Fuge Camps, working my way up to directing teams. Training, equipping and encouraging a group of people who have devoted their lives to Kingdom work will forever be imprinted on my heart.
As I reflect on the past few years, I realize how much the Lord has taught me to possess a servant’s heart. Who would have known that one summer of camp would lead to a lifetime of service, ministry and disciple-making?
Northland high school students have the opportunity to attend MFuge this summer. As I said, I would not be the person I am today without the influence of Fuge Camps. The Lord used that experience to gently mold me and reveal my ultimate purpose in His grand design.
There is no limit to what He can do, so if you are a high school student, take a chance and join other students for an amazing week that could change the trajectory of your life.
Student Life Camp "Like Nothing I've Ever Experienced"
-by Janna Harmer
I attended my first Student Life Camp the summer of 2012. I had just completed my first year of middle school, and while I had been a “church kid” my whole life, I can regretfully say that no one would have guessed that based on first impressions; in other words, I’d heard all the Sunday school stories, sat through sermon after sermon, and still hadn’t been personally impacted by any of it … until that summer after my sixth-grade year.
Student Life was – and still is – like nothing I’ve ever experienced. Having the opportunity to pack a suitcase, hop on an old church bus, and retreat to Stetson University for a week away from everyday normalities is something spectacular. Add the fact that everything from recreation to worship is centered on Christ, and you’re in for the time of your life.
Even in early middle school, I was struggling through some pretty serious stuff, and I can still vividly remember the night I encountered Jesus for the first time … for myself. Sure, I’d heard it all before, and my parents were incredible beacons of what it means to be a Christian, but as the camp pastor was describing this God who loves me enough to drop everything and die to save me from myself, the Holy Spirit grabbed my heart in a way I’ll never be able to shake. The next few days of camp only confirmed what I had experienced that first night, and by the end of the week, I’d had the opportunity to give my life to Jesus – authentically, personally, truly.
I went into camp that week dead in my sin, and at the end, I left so impacted and forever changed.
God can do the unimaginable in a moment – and He blessed me with that moment at a Student Life Camp.
While Student Life caters to middle school through high school students, my youth group would transition our freshmen to another camp similar to Student Life called MFuge. While that camp also had a profound impact on my life, Student Life always had this obvious handprint on my heart that I couldn’t ignore. I felt called to something. The more I prayed about it, the surer I was that God wanted me to apply to staff the camp. The only problem with that was the earliest I could apply was after my freshman year of college.
But never try to convince me that God isn’t faithful. During high school, I also began to feel called into music ministry and had started playing with my youth group’s worship team. Every summer, our leadership team (which the worship team was a part of) would have its own weeklong retreat before going to MFuge with the rest of our students later in the summer. Traditionally, the leadership team had been participating in a retreat called Past the Edge, and while I was totally stoked for that opportunity, there was a change my junior year that blew my mind.
Our leadership team was going to Student Life to serve the staff as student volunteers. We weren’t going as campers, but to get neck-deep in the behind-the-scenes, hard, almost-always-unnoticed work that takes place every day to provide campers with the same incomparable experience I had had almost four years earlier. I was more than ready to dive headfirst into this opportunity, and that week was just as life-changing as my first with Student Life.
I’ll always remember that first afternoon with the staff, before all the campers arrived, setting up the worship chapel. I was on stage, and when I turned around to face the hundreds of chairs, each representing a life that would hear the gospel in the ensuing days, I felt it again, so tangible, so clear: This is where I wanted to be, more than anything.
Student Life Camps have changed my life in more ways than one. Ultimately, I give God the glory for altering my eternity in that moment, and I’ll always be able to look back and find that watermark of where He did it all: Student Life 2012.
Northland middle school students have the opportunity to go to Student Life Camp this summer. They can experience Jesus like never before, grow closer to other students in the youth group, and begin to discover the ultimate purpose that God has for them. Student Life Camp could mark the beginning of an incredible journey with Jesus.