With 87 years of developing Christian leaders at Kanakuk, we have heard countless stories of growth and discipleship from our alumni. Today, we’d like to introduce you to Lawson Hembree, a 9-year Kamper and former Kanakuk staffer. With many summers spent at Kanakuk Kamps, he learned about what it means to be intentional with discipleship and is sharing that with us today.
The final miles to Kanakuk always seem longer than they are because I’m so excited to get there. However, I knew when I saw the Kanakuk sign that there was a group of excited, costumed, Jesus-loving counselors waiting for me. There, they were going to spend the next two weeks pouring into my life.
Counselors were a large part of my time at Kanakuk as a Kamper. I think back on guys like TK, Farmer, Dom, Money, Squintz and others who spent their summers intentionally investing in young people like me in order that we might “increase in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and man” ( Luke 2:52 ). Not only did these men, just a few years older than I was, teach me about Jesus, but they also showed me what it looked like to live a life that placed God first, others second and self third.
I vividly remember spending time discussing life and theology out on the porch of the cabin with other Kampers and counselors. Our counselors would hear us out, laugh with us, answer our questions, encourage us in our Christian walks and pray with us.When the opportunity came for me to interview and become a counselor after 9 years as a Kamper, I jumped on it. It was such a great chance for me to give back. Over the next two summers, I got to meet some great Kampers from all over the country, hear their stories and discuss the Word with them. It was during my time as a counselor that I learned an important lesson: discipleship requires intentionality.
Of course, all Christians are called to be and make disciples ( Matthew 4:18-22 ), but often we forget that that calling requires intentionality. We have to develop a relationship, be vulnerable, and invest in others in the same way that Christ has invested in us. In addition, we must be dedicated to our own personal time in study and prayer.
Now that I’m in the business world, as well as ministering to youth and college students at a local church, the challenge to be intentional with the gospel in my relationships remains. 1 Thessalonians 2 is a huge encouragement for me in this area. Whether you are a Kamper, counselor, parent or in general, may these words ring true for our relationships:
For our exhortation does not come from error or impurity or by way of deceit; but just as we have been approved by God to be entrusted with the gospel, so we speak, not as pleasing men, but God who examines our hearts.For we never came with flattering speech, as you know, nor with a pretext for greed—God is witness—nor did we seek glory from men, either from you or from others, even though as apostles of Christ we might have asserted our authority. But we proved to be gentle among you, as a nursing mother tenderly cares for her own children. Having so fond an affection for you, we were well-pleased to impart to you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become very dear to us. 2 Thessalonians 2:3-8
Overall, we’re thankful for people like Lawson who took lessons learned as a Kamper, and devoted his time later in life as a staffer at Kanakuk, as well as a ministry leader in his community. His intentionality for building Christ-centered relationships is inspiring and we can’t wait to see the impact he makes in his future.
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