I’m not sure why I thought about my friend Joan today. Something I saw online triggered the 44-year-old memory of a back mountain Bible camp experience in Tennessee. Joan, a missionary to Brazil who was home on furlough, took me with her that summer for a two-week trip to the camp where I became a junior camp counselor.
I remember a lot about the camp – the big old wooden tabernacle, the cabins, learning to play Mancala as I sat on the wooden rockers that adorned the small cabin porches, the huge Smokey Mountains, visiting a small rural Sunday School on the weekend. All those memories came flooding back. I wish I had thought to take pictures back then!
As I thought about the camp, I wondered what had ever happened to my missionary friend. Well, you can find just about anybody online these days so I decided to Google her name. What a thrill as I found several articles about her and her work in Brazil!
Well, I got really curious then and decided to look on Facebook. I wasn’t sure she would be on there since she was retired and might not enjoy puttering around with computers. But, there she was! I knew it was her because her smile and eyes remained the same. Suddenly, I wanted to connect with her and let her know how much her life had meant to me. The very fact that she was willing to take me with her to camp even though I was just a girl from one of her supporting churches at the time.
It was a long trip from southeastern PA to the Great Smoky mountains of Tennessee. I can’t remember the name of the camp. I can’t even remember where it was exactly, but I do remember the Lord ministering to me. When I wanted to play games, Joan encouraged me to memorize scripture. When the week was up and I was supposed to return home, she found a way for me to stay there for another week. It cemented my heart’s desire to work full-time for the Lord someday as I interacted with Joan and the children in the camp.
We never know who our lives will touch or where their paths will lead. But this I know – it is like ripples on the surface of a pond. When we touch one life, that life touches others we might not ever come in contact with otherwise. If we fail to touch that one life, who knows how many opportunities for the spreading of the Gospel might be missed!
So thank you Joan for taking the time and caring enough to minister to a teenager so long ago! Who influenced your life for the Lord? Take a moment to go and say thank you today.