Tonight I sit here at my house with a heavy heart. My heart is heavy because I’m here and just 180 miles away something great is happening. Near Capitan, NM the first Joni & Friends Family Retreat in New Mexico is happening and I won’t be there. I want to be there so badly for so many reasons, but I can’t go… I shouldn’t go… I won’t go. But it’s killing me not to be there. Today all of the STMs (Short-Term Missionaries) showed up and training began. All of them participated in team building and fun activities getting ready for “Camper Day.” Tomorrow, “Camper Day,” all of the families will show up and real fun will begin. Families affected by disability will experience fun as a family unit. Caretakers will experience respite and rest, some for the first time, others for the first time in a long time. People with disabilities will get to do things at camp that they normally wouldn’t get to do. STMs and leaders will experience the joy of serving and learning what it means to be a complete body of Christ. At the end of the week families, STMs, leaders, camp staff, and campers will leave with fond memories, a full heart, and a better perception of “loving your neighbor as yourself.”
I’m not going because I lack reasons to go. I have many… My wife is there. In fact, she is the camp director. I’m so proud of what she is doing I can’t stand it. That is the kind of thing that happens when you marry someone who is way smarter and way more talented than you. I could go there to be with her. My eldest son is there serving and I could be with him. My parents are there. I don’t see them as much as I would like and I could spend a whole week with them. Some of my best friends are there. Josh, Dave, Preston, Paul, and Steve all are there and I would love to spend a week with any of them, much less all of them. In fact, everyone I know at camp I would enjoy spending the week serving alongside them.
So, why I am not going? Because giving away ministry is one of the hardest things for me to do. Though it’s hard, I must do it. I remember going to Family Retreat for the first time, I had one student with me. Megan, Preston, Rich and Me took that long drive to Santa Cruz, CA and together we experienced all of those things I mentioned. I remembered thinking to myself, why is this kind of thing not going on all over the country? New Mexico churches need this. Families affected by disability in NM need this. This needs to happen in New Mexico. So, I talked to Paul, the area director of the NM chapter of Joni & Friends, and told him we can and will do this in New Mexico in the near future. At first he was skeptical, but he entertained my crazy scheme. Soon after I was bent on taking as many people to Family Retreats a possible as STMs, leaders, or even families. I took youth groups in the summer, I took my wife during our vacation, and even went to Peru to help them start a Family Retreat in that country.
But in doing all of this I realized that I had to step back for this week. I’m passionate about the ministry but I’m not supposed to be at this camp. I’m not supposed to be there because the camp will be better without me. Don’t get me wrong, this is not a backhanded way of fishing for a compliment. This has nothing to do with my self esteem, I’m secure in who I am. In planning for this I knew I had to sit this one out.
I’ll explain my rationale in the next post…