When a person makes a decision for Christ, he or she also makes a decision to turn away from the world, to Go Rogue.
I wanna talk about a different point of view, the point of me. I was a half-in, half-out Christian living in Godly moments and then slipping back into my worldly and fleshy behaviors. I had gone rogue on God, not rogue with Him. I was “lukewarm” and constantly felt torn between who I wanted to be and who the Lord wanted me to be.
This summer, Jesus pried my sin-filled eyes open, helping me see my sinful nature and just how much I needed to change. He helped me see the need to stay away from temptations and use His tools to remove stumbling blocks from my path. I realized what it meant to go fully, totally, completely rogue for the One who made me. I want to show Jesus that I want His will for my life and that I love Him. That I didn’t/don’t want a worldly lifestyle, I want Him. I find it difficult to leave a whole life behind, especially when the enemy is always dragging me down, making me believe I need certain things when they have no use. This causes me to lose focus and every one of my priorities shifts. Reading my Bible slides down to the bottom, praying feels like a chore, speaking becomes less and less edifying, and eventually I don’t even know what it means to be a Christian. Slipping so many times makes it easy to give up.
That’s the thing though, I gave up. God didn’t. I was sure that God was done with me, tired of my habitual sin and one apology after another… He wasn’t. Now don’t get me wrong He was for sure tired of the sin, but not me. He had/has a plan for me, He gave me a job at this camp called Whisper Mountain. He surrounded me with these Godly people who did not judge me for having sin. Instead, they encouraged me to confess it, to no longer allow it to hold power over me. To not let it hold me back. They texted me daily and told me to read my Bible. I felt comfortable asking for prayer about whatever I was going through, and they reciprocated. God used these people to teach me how to Go Rogue for God not from God. They taught me how to live out my faith, to study the Word, and to pray without ceasing. For all these things I am eternally grateful to God and them.
Having said all this, my question to you is simple, yet hard to swallow. Have you gone rouge from the world, or have you gone rouge from God? I made the wrong decision, but praise the Lord, I was able to run back to Him.
A great part of camp ministry is seeing pieces of people’s process: the struggle, the resistance, the doubt; the freedom, the hope, the faith. Such a view only grows our adoration of God and His astounding grace and patience with us as people.
Last week, we had the privilege of welcoming two different churches. Each with leaders who have both been campers at Whisper Mountain Camp, who have both been part of our summer staff team, and who now both serve as youth pastors who bring teens to camp. I’m sorry, but that’s just beautiful, isn’t it? Walking with people through the long haul, through all the different growing seasons, brings such depth to life.
Serving these groups and their leaders (Hayden and Seth) was a privilege as we strive to build up the community of disciples they are growing.
Thank you Calvary and The Orchard for spending your camp week with us! Keep chasing the things of God. Keep impacting your community for God’s glory!
Author | Cassi Photography | Koda Moody & Cassi Groups | The Orchard Church & Calvary Road Baptist Church
We welcomed the second round of Southbrook Church last week, with much the same sort of experience (as their first week) of well-invested-in teens getting away to Whisper Mountain Camp to be challenged in deeper ways and to grow stronger within community.
We may not have seen all scores of teens coming to Jesus for the first time, but what we did see was scores of teens being confronted with the opportunity to leave their complacent, American Christianity behind to walk in a deep, intimate, counter-cultural relationship with Jesus that actually involves the power of God in their lives. We saw teens accept the challenge to cling to truth, abandon the ways of the world and go rogue in their faith.
This, friends, is the deep power of camp — when life change comes in many forms, but each time with an intimate encounter with Jesus.
Seeing teens come to Jesus in surrender, braving the telling of their stories, opening more to Him and in return to each other, praying for each other and encouraging one another — it brings a viewer to tears because that’s the power of God at camp.
Seeing Southbrook Church encounter God was beautiful. Seeing our staff pour out like a fragrant aroma through the intentional connections and leading with sensitivity was beautiful. God is doing a great work here at camp this summer and we are encouraged to keep going.
Southbrook, you are a church filled with passion, intention and humility. May Jesus continue to be glorified in your midst.
Last week we saw the first round of Southbrook Church from Charlotte. These teens are well poured into at their church and being discipled so well by Dan and the other leaders serving with him. When one camper says the highlight of her week was “definitely all the worship,” something good is happening. But when we had multiple teens saying the same thing…phew, a love of God is obviously being nurtured among this group. (Nevermind how humble and beautiful our worship team is!) One of their leaders said, ” I loved seeing the kids open up to the Lord in new ways.”
Continuing to pour into them throughout the camp week was a privilege for our staff. A camper said, “The staff here is unlike anywhere else. Everyone is so kind and in just five days I deeply connected with so many of them. I deeply appreciated all the opportunities to connect with people.” Having an encouraging atmosphere with intentional connections and using purposeful adventure to bring spiritual application to the fun activities helps to make their connections with each other and the Lord more impactful.
Each week, we take the teens to the lake for the pure enjoyment of the outdoors and fellowship with each other, but also for the occasional baptism. Does it not move you when you see teens praying over each other and celebrating someone choosing Jesus? Ah man, so moving. Perhaps one of the best experiences of the Spirit of God bringing about the bond of unity among the family of God.
Just in case you feel like the world is going to pot quicker than anything good can be done, let us be a voice of hope. We see teens coming to camp each week, experiencing God in powerful ways and reminding us God is still moving, working, and accomplishing His plan. He’s still the same powerful, all-knowing, good God He’s always been.
Southbrook Church, continue to walk-awake with Jesus. You are a light on a hill — Children of Light. You are a people set aside for His glory. Thanks for spending your camp week with us at Whisper Mountain Camp!
Noah Brown, a staff member of ours, was swimming in the lake recently. Seems uninteresting, right… wrong. Mr. Brown’s watch popped off his wrist and sank to the depths below. Panic set in as he began searching for the thing he lost. The parallels started to draw themselves. We, as Christians, can place distances between us and God, sometimes intentionally, other times accidentally. We lose our focus and allow our relationship with Jesus to fall away and sink beneath the sin.
However, the thing we forget is that He is still there, right beside us, still loving us even in our time of rebellion, waiting for us to dive a little deeper, to grasp on to His will once more. As others helped search for the watch in the shallower areas, it was Noah who had to take the plunge. He went deeper than anyone else around him and found the watch! He came back up to the surface, watch in hand and a joyful smile spread across his face.
Now this story could have had a completely different ending. Maybe yours did. Maybe you have it in your head that you have put too much distance between you and God. Maybe you think there is too much struggle to overcome. I’m here to tell you, NOTHING can separate you from the love God has for you (Romans 8:35-39). So, maybe there are some things you need to remove from your life; that’s everyone. We all can improve our relationships with the Almighty. Some things just take time, some more, others less. Yet, we all still must take that dive of faith, searching out and finding Him.
No matter what comes between you and Him, He is always there patiently waiting on you to just dive a little deeper…
Author & Photography | Koda Moody Groups Pictured | New City Middle School & Berry’s Grove
New City High Schoolers were eager to get off the bus and start their week of camp! Our staff met their energy and upped that ante to help make last week’s camp week completely wonderful in many ways. Those who didn’t want to come at the start told us they were so glad they had come by the end.
Many of last week’s campers have been coming since middle school began. Seeing these campers grow from year to year has been a privilege because we get to see glimpses of their process and God working throughout this vital season in their lives. Someone that may have been super difficult to work with has found their stride now and offers much to the community. Someone who may struggle with deep, dark things has taken baby steps forward and taken some new ground. Those with questions, wrestling with hard things, or floundering in their faith have discovered a newness in their walk with Christ. There’s something special about having intentional connections with those who come to us.
Here are a few things campers said about their week at Whisper Mountain Camp: “Staff is very encouraging , funny, supportive, good with all ages, and LOVE riddles. Each leader is an inspiration to someone at camp.“
“I feel incredibly loved when I’m here.“
“I have been struggling to pray and now I am again.“
“I felt very cared for and it was such a genuine environment.“
“The highlight of my week was community.”
Thanks for coming New City! We hope you continue to be children of light back home!
On Tuesday night, I picked up a hiker’s backpack; heavy with stones. The stones had painted words: Gossip, lust, pride and murder… Other stones had social media apps painted on them; like Instagram, Snapchat and Tik-Tok. I took a shaky breath, and prepared for my last walk with these weights. It was hard picking up the backpack without making a noisy shuffle in the back of the camp’s chapel building: The Axis.
The stones I carried would act as talking points for a skit that night.
“Alright, time for my Life’s Journey!” I said, walking down the aisle of seats, with campers and staff on either side of me. My back was bent with the weight of the backpack. “I hope I packed enough. I think I have all the essentials!”
When I get to the stage, I meet one of the staff who plays the Guide for my Journey, Carlo Cicero. I tell him that I’ve packed everything I need for my journey; or at least I hope I did… The guide asks me to explain what I’ve packed. I take out a few items before the rocks come out, explaining why I need them.
“Well, you see, I’m the first starring female quarterback for my high school’s varsity football team… It’s kind of a big deal. I have to practice for at least three hours a day after school… I need to.”
I took out other objects, representing activities my character considered essential. Textbooks, signifying the need to please parents and the need to get into the best colleges there are. A dumbbell, representing the need to exercise and to maintain my appearance. A TV remote, signifying the need for Netflix binges. The rocks with social media apps painted on them, representing the need to keep up my internet presence.
Then, I took out heavier objects.
An empty beer bottle. An empty pill bottle. Rocks with sins painted on them: gossip, lust, pride…
I sought to portray the need for certain objects in my life that gave me a sense of identity. I needed to excel in so many things: football, drums, a social media presence, grades in school; so others would see me as excellent. My character carried these weights to maintain a sense of purpose.
Yet, it exasperated me. The backpack was heavy. I was weighted down. The weights ultimately couldn’t fulfill me.
The guide invited me to set it all aside. Let go of those things! They aren’t essential…
Another member on staff, Lucas Bloss, played a character who also embarked on his life’s journey; yet, his pack was different than mine.
He didn’t have one. Lucas walked to the stage with one thing: a singular loaf of bread. He started eating it, and explained that man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God.
He didn’t carry any weights. He didn’t need a hiker’s pack like I did. The word of the Lord was enough for Lucas.
That was all he needed.
Since the beginning of the summer, I’ve been praying that if God could use me to point just one student closer to Himself, that would make a whole summer of camp work worth it.
A.W Tozer wrote:
I can no more do justice to that awesome and wonder-filled theme [of the love of God] than a child can grasp a star. Still, by reaching toward the star the child may call attention to it and even indicate the direction one must look to see it. So, as I stretch my heart toward the high, shilling love of God, someone who has not before known about it may be encouraged to look up and have hope.
Knowledge of the Holy, A.W. Tozer
I don’t know the backgrounds of all of the students who come to Whisper Mountain; but what I do know is, they all need Jesus more than anything.
One camper who left a lasting impact on me struggled with identity issues. She found her identity in her looks; and when that couldn’t satisfy her, she turned to other things, such as extracurriculars and social status.
She felt empty and drained. I was able to sit with her after the skit a few weeks ago and ask her to read Psalm 139, which talks about how God has made her wonderfully made. He knows her, loves her, and has made her with purpose.
I told her that she can find confidence in her identity in Christ, by knowing who our God is and who He created her to be.
I got to pray with her and assure her that she is not here by accident, but by God’s plan. Freedom is found through the accomplishment of Jesus Christ and His love for her.
Jesus invites us to cast everything aside, to follow Him. We don’t need to carry any weights! Jesus takes it all, because He is enough.
Having conversations like that humbles and astonishes me. Why would God choose to use me, of all people, to share His goodness with others? Why would He use me to help build up His kingdom?
The apostle Paul writes:
It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all. And yet for this reason I found mercy, in order that in me as the foremost, Jesus Christ might demonstrate His perfect patience, as an example for those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
I Timothy 1:15-16 NASB
Despite my own shortcomings, God still chose to use me, and my imperfect words.
He even chooses to use that little backpack skit to point campers to Himself. Through the work being done at Whisper Mountain, God has shown me new mercies every day that have come from choosing to serve Him.
Jesus died for me, so why should I not want to live for Him?
A few weeks ago, on a Wednesday night, there was an altar call after the evening service. Students from Southbrook Church in Charlotte, North Carolina were invited to sit at the foot of the cross and pray; asking God to help relieve them of any burdens, asking God to help them endure difficult situations, so they could be confident in resting their eyes upon Him. Nearly the entire camp, close to 60 students, responded and went to seek the Lord in prayer.
I found it difficult not to weep as I stood in the back of the Axis building, looking at all of the students who responded to the Word spoken.
If all of these students chose to kneel and pray; if they were all committed to serving Jesus Christ by giving up their lives as a living sacrifice as Romans 12:1 says, there will be massive revival in the Church. If each of those students steps up to serve or lead in whatever capacity, I imagine a chain-reaction happening. Others will be pointed to the work and person of Jesus Christ, others will accept the Gospel and then more leaders will be created for the work the Lord has commanded His followers to.
Through the teachings at Whisper Mountain: through personal devotional times, small group Bible studies, sermons each night and spiritual parallels tied with other camp activities, campers have been challenged to apply action to their faith. They learn the importance of spending time in Scripture, prayer, worship, evangelism and discipleship.
Mere belief in Jesus Christ provides salvation, but Jesus Christ is not truly honored until His people pursue Him and seek Him diligently.
Restore to me the joy of Thy salvation, and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Thy ways, and sinners will be converted to Thee.
Psalm 51:12-13 NASB
The Psalmist implores the Lord to help him to delight in the work God has done, and to help him to have the desire to serve the Lord. It is in the joy of salvation and the desire of believers to serve the Lord that others may come to know Jesus personally.
The love of God extends far more than I could ever imagine. This love is radical, transforming, and awe-inspiring. People crave love, and as many turn to the pleasures of sin in an effort to experience love and fulfillment; no one truly knows what it is to live fulfilled unless they understand the person and work of Jesus Christ, and confess their need for a Savior.
Jesus Christ lived the perfect life that we could not live, and He died the death that we deserved. The mission that God has called us to in Matthew 28:18-19; to make disciples and to proclaim His Gospel, has become more important to me than ever since serving at camp. I am on a mission to live for Him and to proclaim His works, as a soldier on duty (refer to 2 Timothy 2:3-4).
Whisper Mountain reflects and lives out this mission by its work centered on Christ. The camp is geared towards teaching upcoming generations about Him.
As I think back to all that the Lord has done this summer, I keep thinking about the skit and my heavy pack. I physically felt better once I set it down on the stage and let go of all that my character set her identity in; sports, school, people-pleasing… While I must strive to glorify and honor God in all that I do, I’ve learned the importance of letting go of the things that distract me from the mission the Lord has called me to: to worship Him and to tell others about what He has done for me.
Serving at Whisper Mountain taught me that God will use me if I let Him, but I must be willing and resolute in following Him in His mission to proclaim the Gospel.
If Jesus Christ endured the cross for the joy set before Him (Hebrews 12:1-2), then I can find strength in looking unto Him in the work He has given me.
I can rest in the knowledge of who Jesus is; the author and perfecter of my faith, who saved me and who seeks to save the world.
Southbrook is a church we get to see twice in a summer because they are such a large group! WE LOVE THAT — but also, won’t it be great when our camper housing project gets completed and they can come all at one time?! Let it be so, Jesus!
Last week was the first week of Southbrook Church teens from Charlotte. It seems the best way to communicate the week is from the lips of the campers themselves, so here it is!
“I’ve known a lot of pain in my life, but this week I’ve seen that God will heal me in His time.”
I thought I knew God, but coming here I realize I know nothing. And meeting all of you, I realize I always have someone to talk to.
I had a lot of family issues I kept pushing away. Coming here and laying things at the cross helps me see how praying makes a difference. You guys have made it easy to find someone to trust.
All the activities, quiet alone with Jesus, Biblical teaching and intentional connections come together to create an experience that is entirely life-changing! This is the power of camp! We are so thankful for God’s faithfulness to continue to show us more of Himself! Last week a group a great, church-going people left camp and went home as Jesus followers. There’s simply nothing better in life than following Jesus! Thanks for escaping your noise at Whisper Mountain Camp! May you continue to find more of Him each day!
Author | Cassi Werner Photography | Adrienne Cicero + Cassi Werner
Teens come to Whisper Mountain Camp, escaping their noise, but bringing all sorts of baggage with them. By the end of the week, as they experience the power of camp, they’ve encountered the personal God! Last week was an incredible week of seeing God move in the hearts of those who came!
There were two groups sharing the week and they meshed really well. They were all so uplifting and encouraging to one another. They became a safe place for those among them that really needed it! Which means all left encouraged and touched by God in some way! Three of them left as new believers! Here are a few testimonies we heard at the end of the week!
“When I came to camp, I thought you guys were crazy, but you’ve been the most accepting group. It’s felt like family. This whole experience has helped me. I grew up in a Christian family, but I never wanted it for myself. Last night, I accepted Christ into my heart. Thanks for helping me and praying with me.”
“I struggle with mental health things and people in my cabin listened to me, even though I talked about the same things over and over and over. It really helped me a lot.”
“It’s like I’ve been sitting on the edge of a lake dipping my toes in but not really going in. This week at camp, I’ve really come to the place where I want to just jump in. I’m so thankful for our time here.”
Conversations, extended prayer times, worship, hearing the Word, time alone in the Word, activities pushing them beyond their comfort levels — these all come together to bring an experience that awakens people to the power and presence of God in their lives. This is the power of camp.
We loved being a piece of your stories this summer, New City and Berry’s Grove! Thanks for coming and we hope to see you again soon!
The first week of Whisper Mountain Camp from a counselor’s perspective. All camper names used in this article are false names, to preserve anonymity for the teens.
Last Thursday night, Whisper Mountain’s executive director, Marty Paul, preached to a group of 11 kids about the importance of placing their focus on God. “You have to live your life focused on the cross… That will sustain you,” Paul said. There was time after the message for the campers to pray silently. Counselors stood on the edges of the room, and campers were invited to ask counselors to pray with them. I sat on the right side of the stage, unsure if any campers would come to me. This was my first week counseling at Whisper Mountain; I had no idea what to expect. As I waited, I prayed, asking God to use me. “Let me minister to these campers, Oh Lord,” I prayed, “That you would make your abundant, awe-inspiring love known through me.” Little did I know that the campers would be ministering to me, instead.
One of the girls from my cabin came up to sit by me on the stage; nine-year-old Sadie. I asked her what I could be praying about for her. She asked me to pray for her family and for the bullying she endures at school to stop. She moved closer to me and laid her head on my shoulder while I prayed for her. We were in the “Axis” building: the chapel, at camp. Instrumental worship music played softly on the speakers. Most of the lights were off, and a weight lingered in the air. The weight pressed upon my thoughts, like humility pressing against pride, stifling any distractions that kept me from begging God, with all that I am, that He would keep this girl from her painful struggles and that she would seek to know Him more.
I opened my eyes after praying with her to see three more girls from my cabin around us; all sisters. I asked what I could also be praying about for them. “We just want to pray for Sadie,” Zulu said. The three girls laid their hands on Sadie’s back as I continued to pray for her. When I finished praying a second time, I told Sadie that she is loved: By God, by me, and by the three other girls around her. She gave me a hug and a smile, and we silently recognized together that the Holy Spirit was among us, drawing our hearts closer to God and to each other.
Campers have been encouraged to fix their eyes on Jesus; focusing on Him amidst trials in this life. They are given a four day devotional plan, centered around the week’s theme. After having scheduled time to be alone with Scripture and the devotional plan, the campers gather together with their cabins to discuss what they learned.
“Before I came to camp, I hated reading my Bible,” Colin, a fifth-grader said. “It felt like a chore to me. Now, I’m going to do it every single day.”
Campers this week have learned to delight in reading the Bible through the times they have spent alone in Scripture, in counselor-led devotional discussions, and in intentional prayer times.
There was a 14-year-old girl in my cabin, Gloria, who showed leadership qualities right away during cabin times. “I want to be so infused with the Word of God, that all I do is part of Him,” she said. She would talk fast and excitedly about the Gospel during cabin times; truly on fire for the Gospel. Gloria told me that she prays for God to use her as an example for her younger siblings, that they would come to have a stronger relationship with Jesus by seeing her leadership. She felt the burden to represent Christ to her family. Last week, campers at Whisper Mountain were taught that believers in Christ are called to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. We are adopted as sons and daughters of the living God; thus, we are no longer citizens of the world, but we belong to a home grander than we could ever imagine. Gloria felt the weight of this, and she recognized the godly influence she has on her family as she fixes her gaze upon Jesus Christ, representing Him in this world.
The camper I prayed with on Thursday night, Sadie, said she learned the importance of spending time reading her Bible rather than being distracted by her phone.
“Usually I’m always on my phone and I never read my Bible,” Sadie said. “Now, I really want to read my Bible because Jesus is really important to me.“
I have been humbled to see the affect of this camp in the lives of the campers this first week. As they connect spiritual applications to activities like paintball and dropping in a 30-foot-tall swing on a high ropes course, the campers begin to see a need for Jesus Christ all around them; not just at church on Sundays. In having focused time reading the Bible by themselves each morning, the campers realize they have a crucial need for the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
“For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.”
The campers experience this truth at Whisper Mountain; they not only learn the importance of reading the Bible on their own, but they see how it impacts their lives and their friend’s lives. The four girls I prayed with last Thursday night knew the impact of prayer, as we grouped around Sadie, pleading to God on her behalf. The girls could only do that because they had a knowledge of Jesus Christ from Scripture. He is powerful. He is kind. He is good. He loves us and He listens to us.
Tim Keller wrote, “God sees us as we are, loves us as we are, and accepts us as we are. But by His grace, He does not leave us where we are.” My prayer as this summer continues is that more campers would be moved by the power of Scripture, and by the person of Jesus Christ; that the campers would recognize that once we fix our gaze and set our lives on Jesus, He will not leave us as we are. He is in the process of making all things new, drawing us closer to Himself as His returning comes nearer at each moment.
Author | Katie Fogarty Photography | Adrienne Cicero + Cassi Werner Group | Community Bible Church of Highlands