November 2, 2010
Mt. Lebanon to Cameroon – How God Changed the Life of a Summer Staffer
By Eric Hays
When I first began working at Mt. Lebanon Baptist Encampment in the summer of 2005, I had no idea how it would change my life. After spending my first summer between college semesters working at Kohl’s Department Store, I wanted to find a job that would be more fulfilling and exciting than just selling shoes. I heard about Mt. Lebanon from my sister who had worked there the previous summer and decided to check it out. At first I thought it was going to be just another job, but after the first week I realized what a wonderful ministry the camp provided.
The kids who came to camp each week were so excited to see us and talk to us. It was a blast interacting with them at recreation activities or even in the dining hall while they were eating. It was staggering at first the way the kids look up to us as staffers, wanting our attention and approval. My focus also really sharpened realizing everything I did and said was being watched by all these kids looking up to me. God reminded me that I was representing Jesus to these kids and that I should use this opportunity to the fullest.
Ministry on a Lifeguard Stand
Spending most of the time lifeguarding at the pool didn’t seem like the easiest place to engage campers since most of the time I was blowing a whistle and telling them not to run or dunk each other. But with a little creativity I found ways to connect. Playing with the kids in the pool during my breaks, or joking with them while manning the line for the slide, allowed me to love on them and make them feel special. Getting a smile to appear on a sullen face or helping someone shy feel included really made Mt. Lebanon fun! My goal became to make the kids I saw during the day know that God is a God of joy and He loves them. God showed me that the kind of day the kids had during recreation time would carry over to the worship services that night and even the simplest things could make a difference for eternity.
Not only did Mt. Lebanon give me a heart for ministry to others but working and living with a close group of other believers really strengthened my spiritual walk. I made many close friendships with the other staffers, one of whom I later married, my wonderful wife Deborah!
We both felt God calling us to full time ministry and Deborah’s interest in linguistics and my interest in graphic design and type led us to Wycliffe Bible Translators. We became full time members a year and a half ago and have obtained an assignment to work in Cameroon, Africa. There I will be doing type design, which will involve working with translators to make computer fonts for language groups that do not yet have any digital forms of their language. Deborah will be building dictionaries and helping with translation work.
We are really excited about being able to help get the Word of God into the hands of people who still have not heard it! Romans 10:14 says “How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them?” Currently we are raising our team of financial and prayer partners so we can begin the work God has for us overseas. If giving people who don’t have God’s Word in their own language touches your heart too and you would like to partner with us in this ministry, there are several ways you can have an impact as part of our team. Find out more about joining our team by visiting our Wycliffe webpage for more information at http://www.wycliffe.org/partnership.aspx?mid=X2PJ90.
You can also keep up with our blog at http://haysadventures.wordpress.com. We would love to hear from you and tell you more about what God is doing in and though our lives! Looking back on all my experiences at Mt. Lebanon I can see how God was shaping and directing me for future Kingdom service. I had no idea when I started out six years ago on a lifeguard stand I was on my way to Africa to spread the life-changing Word of God!