Freshman camp week is incredible. It usually is smaller and provides more one-on-one opportunities with the campers.
It was Sunday evening. We had supper and a little free-time, then had chapel. Due to a couple of last minute faculty cancellations, the dean of the week, instead of putting someone in a quandary trying to prepare chapel messages with little time to prepare, chose to show some recorded messages and work from them.
Rita and I were finishing something for later that evening and came in after everyone else had been seated. There were only two chairs left on the back row on the left. I came in first and sat down on the inside seat next to a young lady named Sarah. Rita came in a couple of minutes later and sat on the outside seat next to me.
Erick was showing a Jeff Walling presentation about passing the baton of faith on from one generation of believers to another. At the beginning of the presentation, he begins to tell a lame joke that he had told the night before at the conference the DVD was recorded at. His son called him on. Jeff said, maybe there were some who weren’t there the night before and he asked the audience if there were any who hadn’t been there the night before. Apparently some people in the audience raised their hands and he pointed to them pointing them out to his son.
Now, Rita and I are goof-balls and we have a blast and we raised our hands. That’s when Jeff pointed to the audience and it looked like he was pointing at Rita and me and we lost it. Everyone, but Erick were clueless about what we were laughing so hard at. But Sarah, just looked at me with an expression of “what’s wrong with this guy?”
I’m just like that. I see the funny in things that a lot of people don’t. I smile and I laugh . . . a lot. So does Rita. As the week went on, I would notice Sarah staring at me. And after a day or so, I realized she began sitting beside me at meals, chapel, campfire and classes too and I would see her staring at me.
About Wednesday, we were at campfire sharing the best thing about the day and the worst thing about the day. Earlier that day Sarah told me that I smile too much. I took it as a compliment. When it was my turn to share about the best thing of the day, I said, “I was given the best compliment today by Sarah. She told me I smile too much.” Then I played the final chords of the theme song for the TV show Home Improvement ( http://www.angelfire.com/mi2/HomeImprovement/sounds.html scroll to the bottom of the page).
I got a really good laugh from everybody and Sarah even laughed and seemed to relax a little. See the week before, Sarah had arrived at a children’s ranch and was being exposed to many new things. People that care for her, people who are Christian and Christianity, and people like Rita and me who are so full of joy we laugh, a lot.
Sarah had a difficult life with little to smile at and when she encountered me, she had a difficult time figuring someone like me out. When she learned I was genuine and the reason I and many others like Rita were so full of joy, she began her journey toward Jesus Christ. She smiled and laughed a whole lot before the camp week was over.
That was the summer of 2006. I saw her about 2 years later and she wondered if I remembered her. I did and I remembered her name also. But I noticed that the girl had changed. She was still being filled with joy because now she knew the same joy that I knew because she knew Jesus Christ and had hope in spite of her difficult and troubled past.
It was then that I learned that God can use my joy to open the doors of evangelism (Read C.S. Lewis book Suprised by Joy). Sarah would be about 19 or 20 now and I pray that the joy and hope she has is a lasting joy and hope. I may never see her again, but I intend to share that eternality with her and others in heaven.