This week Dauphin Bible Camp lost their old kitchen and Chapel. The news was both shocking and saddening to me personally. For 9 years Dauphin Bible Camp was our home. Not just our home away from home, but our real home. And for 5 of those summer we lived in the Shilo building which meant right outside our window was the view of the main building.
After reading some of the news reports posted in several difference media outlets, I was so proud to hear of the staff who were up there during the fire. All reports were praising the staff for handing the situation so well. They did everything right, keeping everyone safe and were so helpful to emergency people on site. The staff kept the kids fed, entertained and busy until their parents arrived. Keeping good attitudes the whole time, it was truly Jesus shining through
So while reading some of these online news reports I read a few of the comments. Maybe I shouldn’t have…But a few have caused me to reflect. ‘Why is everyone so sad about this, it was just a building, no one got hurt’ was one of the comments. Of course, I know all anyone can really ask for in the case of a fire is that no one is harmed. That was the case in this situation, and for that I am thankful to God for sparing every child and staff from any injuries! But why did so many respond to this event with sadness? This building was just a building, yes; in and of itself, it did not save anyone for Jesus; it was a 41 year old structure made of wood, concrete, and tin. But the sadness comes more with what this building represented and the memories it held for probably thousands of people!
Weddings and wedding receptions took place in the DBC chapel and dining hall. Camp get-to-gethers, where community members came to learn and donate their funds to keep the whole place running from year to year took place in this building. This building was were hundreds of people stood on that old wooden stage, sang about Jesus, praised our Father and taught about His love. It was a building where, most likely, hundreds of kids made a new decision to follow Jesus for the first time. Right on one of the old, wooden church pews, they would have bowed their head and invited Him to be their Savior.
It was where countless staff shared, cried and prayed about the kids they cared for in their cabins. It was where cooks made countless, AMAZING meals to feed kids all summer. It was where we sat at the ugly mint tables, with the ugly mint melmac dishes and ate the food prepared for us! It’s where we hung our hats and hoodies on the old elk antlers above the mantel. It was where numerous games of ‘upset the fruit basket’, ‘honey if you love me’ and’ I’ve never’ were played in a gigantic circle on a rainy day. The list could go on and on, but the point is, this building was special, whether you remember it being built and used 40 years ago or if you met Jesus there or if you volunteered your time and gave your heart to the ministry in any way. It represents spiritual growth and fond memories for thousands of people!
Another comment I read on a news report was “Where was Jesus?” I suppose on some level that is a valid question. And although, I am sure the comment was meant to be sarcastic, I thought about it seriously. Never did I doubt that Jesus was missing from camp! As the fire had died down, and our chapel was only a pile of rubble and ashes, cabin leaders and leadership gathered in our new kitchen, and worshiped Jesus. They were sad about their loss of the building and some of their personal belongings, but they choose to praise God for sparing lives and all the other buildings. I won’t claim to be any type of philosopher or someone who knows how God chooses to work. I don’t even want to try to figure out and see the good in all of this. Sometimes it’s just not for us to figure out or see. So we can just hold on to the truth that God is good and He is faithful (Psalm 100:5) Jesus showed up this Monday at DBC, his presence was perhaps even more strong than ever!
We say goodbye to our beloved old chapel and kitchen, with its beautiful glass cross on the north facing wall, the sketchy drama room clothes, and the ghetto upstairs where tired staff rested on their skill off. So many came to Jesus in that building and lots of good came from all those decisions, but now as we move forward. Those same memories and decisions will be made in the new kitchen and a someday new chapel that the camp may choose to build (ok and don’t anyone get any ideas about that, I have no info about what may or may not be built in its place) To God be the glory as this camp moves forward!