To The Christian Not Going to Camp or on a Mission Trip This Summer

The three months of summer that we’ve all been anxiously awaiting have either arrived or are coming very shortly (prayers for you if you’re still in school).  As young Christians, it seems there are two defaults for summer–serving as a camp counselor or serving on a mission trip.  Both are incredible opportunities and experiences, but when neither of these are in the plans for the summer, some tend to doubt whether their summer will be meaningful and impactful.  For the Christian seeking a summer of spiritual growth, it can be natural to get caught up in the mindset that the summer will be wasted potential.

As someone who has had both mission trip and camp counselor summers, and is spending this summer doing neither of the two, I want to encourage you in your perspective and approach to the next few months.  I want to exhort that the summer will not be void of incredible growth and difference-making if you don’t allow it to be.  

Whether you’re spending your summer taking classes, interning, working, or staying at home, there are huge opportunities for you to be impacted and to make an impact.  You’ve heard it countless times: wherever you are is your mission field. Rather than numbly reading over those words, take them to heart.   Don’t lose sight of the fact that the Lord has purposely planned where you will spend your summer. He knows each and every person you will come in contact with, He knows their needs, and He has particularly placed you to be His hands and feet shall He move you to tend to these needs.  

If you’re spending the summer taking classes on campus, there are countless ways to grow through service and discipleship.

Reach out to international students who will surely be on campus.  Ask them to study or go to lunch with you and seek to have Gospel-centered conversations.  Through one student, you can reach a nation you may have never had to opportunity to physically visit.  I’m always amazed when I think about how God has literally brought the nations to my campus–making Matthew 28:19-20 significantly easier to accomplish–and how often I miss this opportunity. My challenge for you and for myself is to not let this opportunity be wasted this summer.

Get involved in your local church that you attend throughout the school year.  Serve on the VBS volunteer team or in other ministries that you may not have had the opportunity to serve in during the fall and spring semesters.  Being rooted in the local church is essential to spiritual growth and discipleship as God designed it, so use this summer to develop or deepen these roots.

Seek to befriend your classmates and be intentional with forming these new relationships. Summer classes can be a great time to encounter people you may have never come into contact with otherwise, so take advantage of this setting.  Most importantly, be available and willing to be a light for Christ in any darkness you may encounter in these new friendships. 

Use any extra time you have over the next few months to intentionally and devotedly pray over your campus.  While walking the campus is not necessary, it can be a great way to facilitate focused prayer over the various locations and bodies of students on campus.  Pray for those who are there this summer and those who will be arriving in the fall.  Pray for hearts to be stirred toward the affections of Jesus and pray for His name to grow increasingly known amidst the student and faculty body.

If you’re spending the summer working a job or internship, you have a unique opportunity to be on mission within your workplace.

Be committed to building relationships with coworkers.  It’s easy to clock in and out without having any more than surface level, passing conversations throughout the day, but make an effort to go deeper.  Form friendships that can be taken outside of the workplace.  Take time to truly care about the people around you and what is taking place in their lives outside of work. God had surrounded you with the coworkers you have for a unique reason, so seek that.  Ask Him for His guidance and wisdom in discerning your specific purpose in the setting in which you’ve been placed.

If you are interning in a field that you will later be in full-time, use this summer as a time to develop missional focus through your career.  All areas of study and practice can be used for the good of the Kingdom, so use your internship as a time to ask God for His vision in your field.  If you’re in engineering, maybe this looks like engineering water systems or labor equipment for developing countries and communities. In you’re in fashion design, maybe this looks like organizing a fashion show fundraiser that provides prom dresses/tuxes to high school girls and boys that wouldn’t otherwise be able to afford them.  Regardless of the field you work in, there is good that you can do for the community, creating encounters to share the Gospel that may have never been created otherwise. 

If you are spending the summer at home, resist the natural tendency to resort to laziness or routine.

Use this time to reunite with friends from high school, or make friends with people whom you weren’t friends with before.  Step outside of your comfortable circle of peers and get to know new people and their stories.  Sharing stories with people coming from different walks of life will alter and expand your perspectives, increase your wisdom, and allow God to create in you new compassions.

While more simply said than done, use this summer to serve your siblings and parents.  After a week it may be hard, but use these days at home to deepen these forever relationships and be a help around the house.

And lastly, just as I encourage students staying on campus to do, get involved with serving your home church.  VBS songs are good for the soul and no matter how old you are, vanilla wafers never get old.

Regardless of where you are and where you will be, be encouraged that while your summer may not be being spent lassoing kids into a cabin, dressing up in crazy outfits and performing a skit, building houses in an impoverished community, or flying to the other side of the world to evangelize, God will be glorified and you will be stretched, grown, and refined in ways you can’t even foresee.  

Use these next three months to discipline yourself to dig deeper in Scripture daily.  Challenge yourself to read new books, expanding your horizon of knowledge and viewpoints. (C.S. Lewis is always a good start–shameless plug from his biggest fan.)  Take every opportunity to step outside your comfort zone, for if in these steps you keep your focus on the Lord, there is where you will be grown and your faith will be taken deeper.  Stay busy, but seek rest.  Go to bed tired, but with a renewed soul.

Find peace and encouragement in the truth that God’s omnipresence means the impact that He wants to make through you is not dependent on your setting, but on your reliance on and obedience to Him.  

So get pumped for this summer and anxiously await all the excitement God will create out of the mundane if you just allow Him.

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