When I started going to camp as a 13 year old, I certainly got more than I'd bargained for! Besides having a great holiday with lots of fun and happy memories, I experienced three 'firsts' that were to impact the rest of my life. From then on I went to camp every year, often at Kingscross on Arran - as a camper, then as a volunteer.
My three firsts Camp was where:
- I first understood that Jesus died to save me, and wanted to come into my life personally;
- I first started the habit of reading the Bible every day;
- I first met people whose daily lives showed the love and patience of Jesus that made me want to be like them.
As a young person knowing little of the Bible, I simply invited Jesus to come into my heart and life, and started reading the Bible daily with the help of SU study notes. As I read and grew in him, the Lord taught me more and more, till by age 16 I realised he was asking me for 100% commitment of my life to him. I knew it had to be all or nothing, and after a few days' struggle, I surrendered totally to him.
I eventually became leader of a weekly SU group in school, first as pupil at Hillhead High School in Glasgow, then as a teacher at Clydebank High School. How thankful I am for the leadership training I received through SU Scotland, with Saturday night leaders' meetings and prayer meetings, monthly rallies, conferences and for the prayers of people who met faithfully to pray for the work of SU and for us as campers. Often they don't get to see the end result of their prayers, but I can testify that they are a powerful force in people's lives and in the spiritual warfare Christians are in.
I'm amazed at the power of the Holy Spirit who takes the seed of his word that we sow and causes it to grow in people's lives and experiences, as he did in mine. It has been thrilling for me to meet former pupils who told me, many years later, that they had come to the Lord through our school SU Group, or the monthly rallies we ran. God tells us, "My word will not return to me empty, but will... achieve the purpose for which I sent it" (Isaiah 55:11)
Little did I know, when I simply prayed, "Lord Jesus, come into my life," how that would change my life, and where he would lead me! God led me to South America, sharing God's word with tribal groups, and now, back in the UK, sharing with foreign students from all over the world, who come to study at our universities. I thank God for his grace in leading me to himself, in causing me to grow through reading his word and in giving me opportunities to share his word with others.
I'm grateful to the dedicated staff of SU Scotland, teachers, camp leaders and the unseen army of volunteers who are faithful in sharing, praying and leading consistent lives revealing the love of Jesus to others, pointing us to the one who is the way, the truth and the life, who loved us and gave himself for us.
Words by Norma de Vilbiss. This article was first featured in @SU.