One of the biggest blessings of my job is working with the many military families who come to Family Camp. Most of you know that we have a campership program that brings military families to a week of Family Camp free of charge. Each year I marvel at how the Lord uses a week of camp to heal these families who have sacrificed so much, and to draw them closer to each other and to Himself.
Several years ago I received an email from DeeDee. Her husband Spencer, who was not a believer, had just received an honorable discharge from the Marines after serving 14 months in Iraq but having a physical disability that didn’t allow him to continue to serve. They had a special family circumstance. Their eleven-year-old daughter, Kayla, had a number of major medical issues. They had traveled the country seeking help and finding few answers, while spending tens of thousands of dollars out-of-pocket for medical bills. DeeDee knew Kayla would need some special accommodations to be able to come to camp for a whole week, and we were happy to make them!
So DeeDee, Spencer, Kayla, and two younger daughters came for a week of Family Camp, and had the most amazing time! Two years later they returned for another week of camp, and DeeDee and Spencer even came to a Couple’s Retreat. Mount Hermon had become a sacred place for their family, providing time together and beautiful memories.
I am devastated to say that last year Kayla’s battle with illness ended and she went to be with the Lord. This past summer was the family’s first time back to camp without her. DeeDee’s parents, neither of whom were walking with the Lord, joined them for support.
DeeDee and Spencer approached me on Tuesday of that week, and told me, “One of Kayla’s dreams was that her dad would come to know the Lord, and Spencer did!” DeeDee asked me, “Would you baptize both Spencer and our seven-year-old daughter Kadence this week?” I was overwhelmed, and we made plans to baptize them in the Mount Hermon swimming pool. Our worship leader that week, David Bardowell helped me, it was such a special and holy moment as we were surrounded by family and
Several months after camp I received a phone call from DeeDee’s father. He excitedly informed me that he and his wife had rededicated their lives to the Lord at Mount Hermon and were now attending a local church in Southern California. I asked them which church and was amazed at the answer. “David Bardowell’s church! And we are both getting baptized this weekend!”
In the midst of tragedy comes the surprise of blessing. DeeDee sent a note to me with these words: “To say that Mount Hermon has saved our family unit, would be one of the greatest understatements we can make. Mount Hermon not only has saved our family unit multiple times, the Lord has used it to secure our salvation.”
We miss Kayla dearly, but are so comforted and encouraged by the knowledge that now her entire family will one day see her again when they join her in eternity with Jesus.
By Dave Burns
Director of Adult Ministries