By Becky Cripps
In Isaiah 2, the prophet Isaiah shares a compelling vision with the people of Israel and Judah which is a calling that remains relevant to the church today.
This vision for the Israelites then and the church today is for everyone. “Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the temple of the God of Jacob.” Our New Testament understanding of the temple is that it is Jesus. Jesus, who we now understand as the highest of mountains, was the temple that was torn down and was raised up in three days (John 2:19). The Lord will teach us how to walk in righteousness, in peace, and in His light. What I love about this passage and the vision Isaiah was given is how it is so invitational. All the nations will come to Yahweh to receive His teach- ing, to learn to live in peace; but then it is also a sending out “to walk in the light of the Lord.”
As the new Program Director for Widjiitiwin, I have spent my first months understanding the vision for our program, and I believe it is right in line with Isaiah’s vision for the Israelites. As a part of our overall vision for the Widjiitiwin program, we invite youth from marginalized communities to camp during the summer, to meet Jesus, to learn His teachings and to be agents of His peace. We invite kids and teens who may not otherwise have the opportunity to attend camp, to be blessed by the Widjiitiwin ministry. While camp may only be a week-long experience at Widjiitiwin, for these youth, the impact of encountering Jesus has lifelong implications. Our hope is for all who come to receive what they need from Jesus to go and walk in the light of the Lord.
I have personal experience of this. When I was just seventeen, my parents signed me up for Camp Widjiitiwin’s SALT (Skills and Leadership Training) program. I wasn’t too enthusiastic about this idea at first, and I can even remember asking my parents (more than once) whether I really had to go? At that point in my life, my friends and influences outside of church were more appealing than anything to do with God and religion.
As I arrived, my SALT leader, Chiquita (Jessica Weening), was super kind and hospitable to me. Although I hadn’t yet bought into camp life, she made the transition much easier. I came to camp with a hardened heart to the things of God and Chiquita’s kindness started to break through and soften my heart. I still look back on this camp experience and think that my parent’s decision to send me to camp was the best decision for that time in my life.
It only took three days of being in SALT for God to soften my heart to Him. I can’t remember if it was a chapel service, a conversation with a leader or what was taking place, but I do remember an overwhelming sense that I was fully loved and accepted by Jesus. At the same time, I had an overwhelming need to repent of all my sin and shame… and an overwhelming joy and gratitude as I hadn’t realized how burdened I had been feeling by my life choices. I felt the peace of Christ for the first time in my teenage life.
My experience at camp brought me to the high mountain, to Jesus. It was here where I heard His teachings and learned to start walking in the light. Now, years later in my new role, I am thrilled I have this opportunity to invite youth from our partnering communities to camp!
As we look forward to the camp this summer, “may he teach us his ways and that we may walk in his paths” (Isaiah 2:3).
Becky Cripp is MBC’s Widjiitiwin Program Director.