Many people have had an experience that you’ll never forget. It’s easy to see a photo, hear a song, or be reminded of an inside joke that immediately takes them back to where they were when these glorious memories were being made. I had the wonderful opportunity this summer to serve as a steward of Christ at Young Life’s Washington Family Ranch Creekside (located in Antelope, OR). Purely serving God with all my heart, soul, and mind for an entire month was a challenge, and doing it alongside strangers my age created an experience that I will never forget.
Upon our arrival, it was awkward. Majority of us had never met, or been to Creekside. We were all in a new place with new people. We all knew that we had a common foundation in faith and that we were all here to serve the same purpose; we were there to serve God by doing to backbone work that Work Crew requires. Work Crew gets assigned jobs like washing dishes, cleaning toilets, busing tables, and doing yard work. We work from early in the morning to late at night and are doing this labor unpaid. From the outside looking in, this may seem crazy! A month of unpaid labor while being surrounded by grubby middle school kids?! There’s no way. Well here’s why we do it.
Most of us had been campers at a Young Life camp before. Young Life is where we heard the gospel for the first time. Young Life was where we first saw a little piece of heaven on earth. From the perspective of a camper, everything at camp is PERFECT. The food is the best food ever served by amazing people, beds are always perfectly made, and every bathroom is spotless. The lawn is always kelly green and trimmed just right. There are no imperfections. It’s truly heavenly. Once we got home and continued to grow in our faith, we realized that someone had to make camp so wonderful and we wanted to be a part of it. We wanted to be a part of giving kids the best week of their lives and show them what being Christian is all about.
Being a Christian isn’t about following a set of rules; it’s not about being a perfect human being. It’s about being forgiven for being imperfect and accepting grace that’s completely undeserved. It’s about knowing that there’s more to this life than just being alive. It’s about spreading the good news (not to sound cliche) and showing others what Christ was like. The reason we serve isn’t because we have to, or because we feel guilty; it’s because we want to show others how great life is when Christ lives in you and the holy spirit is the guide. It’s an experience that’s indescribable and can only be experienced when one accepts Christ as their savior.
Being a part of a Christ-centered community was unlike any other community I have been in. There is less conflict, and when conflict arrises, it’s easily resolved. Why? Because we all turn to the same thing. We all turn to prayer and the bible. Having a common foundation can truly change the way people look at their lives and their choices. I became so close with so many wonderful people because we were able to talk about our struggles in faith and in life. We all became so close by the end of this month that many people were afraid to go home because they don’t live in a community where Christ is the center and they don’t have friendships or relationships built within the body of Christ. They experienced that for the first time and never wanted to leave.
For me? Work Crew intensified my recognition of the blessings in my life. Hockinson as a whole has been such a blessing in my life and there are so many people here who are members of the church and I have built relationships in Christ with them. It was a blessing to know that I was coming back to the amazing friends I have here and the amazing community that is so supportive when things go wrong. I had never realized that not everyone has that same blessing and thank God on the daily for giving that to me and praying He won’t take it away.
The month I spent at Work Crew will never be forgotten. I will never forget things like my friends Tim and Jake singing the second verse of “I Miss You” by Blink 182 in a british accent 3958493570389 times per day, or a kid that I served named Darrin who would look me in the eyes and say, “Thank you, you’re a giver, you’re going to heaven!” every. single. time. I set food on his table. I won’t forget the tears shed during cardboard testimonies, or the laughter as we got to know each other. I hope that everyone gets to experience a true Christ-like community at some point in their life, whether they are Christian or not. Because regardless, it’s filled with love, joy, and a true heart to care for others, and what a wonderful place that is to be. ❤