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  • Letters to the Editor
    Updated July 26,  1998

Lessons from Jonesboro
by Bill Jacobs
In the aftermath of the Jonesoboro, Arkansas children's massacre we are confronted with the WHY questions. Here are some answers to what went went wrong with relationships...and what we can do to build proper ones.
Posted April 3, 1998

Mentors Promote Success
by John Elliott
Success can be as close as someone helping you through an obstacle....and you're helping someone else through their obstacle.
Posted May 17, 1998

Belief in God is a Choice We Must Make
by Cecil Maranville
What holds us back from Believing? Could it be some responsibility we have to face?
Posted April 9, 1998

What's Behind the Mideast Crisis?
by Melvin Rhodes
The Bible's prophecies have focused on problems in the Middle East. How will current tensions in this part of the world affect us?
Posted April 11, 1998
Meaningful Hope for Christians with Chronic Illnesses
by Cecil Maranville
What does it mean when you suffer from a long-standing sickness? The Psalmist was there....and gives insight that can help us cope.
Posted April 8, 1998
Shauna's Miracle
by Karen Summey
A true story of an encouraging miracle God performed for a 15-year-old and her friends.
Posted April 8, 1998
"Please Lord, Save Me From Your Followers"
by Lorelei Nettles
Have you ever wondered what kind of bumper stickers YOUR example may inspire?
Posted February 7, 1998

July  1998

The Zone

YESTERDAY WAS A GREAT DAY to wake up and go to work! As Merrie and I opened our front door we walked out into the Millennium, (or at least about as close as one can get to it in this day and age.) Everyone around us had left their normal routines behind to focus on serving and helping each other physically, mentally and spiritually. In this environment each person was dedicated to shed thoughtlessness and move into a mental "zone" of concern away from self.

The event? A teen summer camp at Pinecrest in Southern Missouri. Some 120 teens and 50 staff participated in an annual week-long summer camp. In a beautiful outdoor environment teens were treated to a plethora of activities and learning experiences. These included a 15-mile canoe trip, skeet shooting, team sports, ropes course, rappelling down a cliff, etc. Christian Living classes gave essential information to young men and women seeking to become responsible men, women, husbands and wives.

While these things may be typical events at a summer camp, Merrie and I experienced first hand something that was not -- "the Zone!" Let me explain.

Our specific role was the capturing on video various aspects of the camp for a potential Church project. We arrived a few days after the camp session was under way and found something we weren't prepared for. Teen conversations were abuzz with comments a "zone" and their individual proximity to it and an anticipation of their arrival in it. Some expressed an excitement at already being there.

Larry Grieder, camp director, explained it to me this way. He recognized years ago that our youth need to experience a foretaste of the Millennium where outgoing concern is the primary mentality being exhibited. Teens need a place to come to where it is "safe" to be your true self. A place to have fun away from the put-down's and criticisms that typically bombard them. In essence, to live for a week in a Millennial environment where concern and service is exhibited by all. That's a tall order to fill in our age, but the people we saw were fully dedicated to doing the best job of it they could.

I interviewed a few teens asking them why camp was important to them. Curiously, nobody cited the activities as they answered. What was most important to them was experiencing concern and support from their peers. They were "pumped" about this most unique experience taking place amid an exciting week of activities.

Not just another cliché, being in the "zone" involved real concern, acceptance and support from fellow dorm mates. And, just as often it meant showing such concern and encouragement to others. In some instances the need for such was even crucial. Those who were easily picked on for physical or mental reasons back home received extra consideration from teens within their dorm. Nobody seemed to get shunned or overlooked. One child with brain cancer was kept right in the center of things by her peers. Another with a testy personality was encouraged and was mellowing as camp progressed. The teens had come from 20 different states to attend a camp whose reputation for a great week at camp has become legendary.

At the core of it all were 50 or so staff members whose dedication and service will inspire us for years to come. Whether minister, mother or young adult, each was humbly dedicated with a commitment that was exemplary. Most staff members had taken time off from their careers to drive across several states to serve the teens at their own expense. In many cases husbands and wives sacrificed by living apart in separate dorms for the entire camp. One pastor lived in a boys dorm while his wife and 3-month old baby ran the administration office and taught girl's Christian living classes. Several members left mates and families back home to come and work from early dawn to late at night. They left their jobs in Beloit, Wisconsin, Houston, Texas, Portsmouth, Ohio and other places. Their jobs sometimes required them to be sunburned and chigger bitten, or continually shuttling people and equipment, or serving endless meals in the dining hall, just some of the tasks that started early and ended late.

But none complained, none sought any glory and none faltered in dependable service day after day after day. Ironically, we found that the adults had found their way into "the zone" too and it was a great environment for adults to be part of,too.

Yesterday morning Merrie and I drove out of "the zone" with regrets. The sun was streaming through the trees and the camp was buzzing  with truly happy people. Teens and staff were celebrating various achievements in an awards presentation. But other responsibilities called and we couldn't linger any longer. We had experienced more proof that God's Way works, and that His Kingdom will indeed solve mankind's problems. It's one thing to hear it, even to preach it. Quite another to live a glimpse of it, even if for just a moment. For now we all have to live in the world, outside such a zone. But experiences such as this rekindle our zeal for preaching the Gospel of a new world coming for everyone.

Other groups hold teen camps at the Pinecrest facility each summer. But none is like ours says the site manager, Fred Yates. "Of all the camps held here, yours is the best," he stated several times. Being a friend of Dr. James Dobson and others involved in the "Focus on the Family" program, his was a strong validation.

Merrie and I are far away from the wonderful environment we experienced at Camp Pinecrest. Camp there has now ended and everyone else has departed for less idyllic destinations, too. But we'll all remember our time together and long for the day when "the zone" will be a way of life for all humanity. It's made in me desire to work harder for that Day.

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   John Elliott

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