Loving and Leading, Part 1

“Everyone has a story.”

Have you ever wanted to make a difference for Jesus, but you weren’t sure how?  Getting to know George Smith, I learned a thing or two about loving and leading.

Every Sunday of summer youth camps, for decades, George and his wife Karen would pull into camp with a a van load of kids, and every Saturday they came back to take them home.  At minimum that’s 10 trips a summer, and he made those trips for over 50 years.

George was one of my heroes.  He always said that “Everyone has a story.”  He was a retired counselor who “listened” to the people in his community at no charge.  He cared about their hearts, and knew that God is the only way to become truly healed.  He also understood the way Jesus ministered to those whose lives He touched… looking after an individual’s physical and emotional needs today goes hand in hand with looking after their eternal needs.

Our family, out on the farm with George and Karen in 2010.  

Every summer George would go around his small town of Clithrall, Mn. and find the kids who had no place to go, who were bored, who’s families were not involved, or who may have otherwise gotten into trouble and felt that no one cared.

He talked with them.  He listened to them.  And then he would ask their parents for permission to take them to Camp JIM.  He would even throw in ice cream at Dairy Queen—twice—once on the way to camp and once on the way back home.   

For most of these kids, a trip to Dairy Queen was a rare and coveted indulgence. Some of them came for the ice cream, but they loved George because he loved them, and he didn’t ask them for anything in return.  While at camp, they discovered that lots of people care about them.
Especially God.
And we saw these young lives transformed. Most returned to camp with George every summer.  Many stayed and volunteered the whole summer.   When they were old enough they become our counselors and led others to Jesus Christ.  It is thrilling to see them off to a Christian College– to full time ministry careers– and raising Godly families.
Ice Cream and Jesus. 
That’s what it’s all about.
Loving people where they are today…
and leading them to the foot of our Savior who will love them eternally.

4 thoughts on “Loving and Leading, Part 1

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