Open Range 2024 | All HTL Outdoor Event

Accepting Christ Helps Catch Fish

You just never know when God is going to come. My friend Jeff is convinced He speaks to him through billboards and he has more than once told us stories to back it up. Sometimes you will meet someone and a conversation with this perfect stranger will turn into an answer to a prayer or confirm something you felt God was telling you. Before fish camp this year I was praying for His direction, what scripture to teach, how to teach it and what would it look like. OH He answered and He blew me away, again.two_fish

This year the eight boys who came to fish camp were mostly new to a KOZ summer camp. We did have Samuel who came last year and Chance who had been for a couple years. But Jake, Drew, Gunner, Garrison, Dylan and Derrick were pretty much first timers. I love that.

God brings exactly he right boys to KOZ at just the right moment. Some of the boys come from intact families, some from hard places without male role models. Lots of time they will be mad that their father is a non-participant and they can be mad at men in general for breaking promises and abandoning them even to just their jobs. They don’t always know that that is the demon that binds them to anger, frustration, confusion and distrust, but it is.

When God gave me the scripture Luke 15:11-32 The Parable of the Lost Son,  I was a bit taken back. I know that lots of boys who have never experienced a loving father or even a stand-up man in their lives don’t get the concept of a loving Father in stories, much less heaven. My first reaction to God was, “ugggg.”

So “Fathered by God” was what He wanted me to teach them and we let the Holy Spirit lead us through scripture and the concept of God being our father. The boys we open to talking and each morning, afternoon and evening we led the conversations from stink bait and lost fish to God and His love for us no matter what.

The fishing was slow the first day or two. We studied the Freshwater Fishing Manual of North America and had a teacher come in for a class on cat fishing. Once the boys got in the groove they started to figure out how to catch the fish. They caught perch and drum, catfish and carp. They took some of the fish and learned how to fillet them and we ate them that night. Luckily we had planned our meals around the chance our fish catches were on the slower side.

I am a guy who believes in being intentional in my work for God. I can be fluffy and colorful and tell a good story but when it comes down to it, where is God in your life, do you know Christ in your heart and what would life look like if He was there for you, is where I like to go. Some folks will argue that people need to learn, understand and study for a period of time to be ready to accept Christ into their hearts. I am from the belief that if the thief on the cross next to Jesus could accept Christ, (Luke 23:43) into his heart without a three week study then it must be a heart issue. If it is a heart issue then when a kid at one of our summer camps is broken or feels led through his heart to ask Christ to father him, then I say yes.

One morning, about the third day, the boys were catching fish. Garrison had not had any luck the first day or two but on this morning he caught two in a row and they were nice catfish. That day I walked from boy to boy checking on them and talking fishing. Garrison was sitting on the back corner of the dock. He was the most patient of all the boys I think. He sat still and rarely took his hook out of the water, where most fish are caught by the way. I sat next to him, a cool breeze still blowing from across the lake as the morning sun began to crest the lake cliffs.

“You did good today,” I told him. We sat quietly looking at the ripples and reflections. Garrison is a young man of few words. “This morning I prayed for Jesus to come into my heart and that is why I think I caught them,” were his words back to me. I was stunned. I fumbled around in my mind. “You said you prayed for Jesus to come into your heart this morning,” I repeated. “Yes,” he said. My heart soared. God, You did that to show me. You did that to let me know You were with us. You showed Yourself to him. I could barely hold back the tears of joy.

Later that night we sat in a group. A long day of fishing and swimming behind us. We talked more about how God will father us if we ask Him to and told the others about Garrison’s decision. We stopped and I asked the other boys if they wanted to pray Romans 10:9 and ask Christ into their hearts and if so we would just begin to pray and they could read it if they felt their hearts led to.  Four of the boys joyfully read the words: Romans 10:9, If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.  My heart raced. After we prayed I asked them if they wanted to be baptized tomorrow at sunrise in the lake, they all agreed it would be cool. God, you are cool.

The sunrise didn’t seem so early the next day. The boys acknowledged their new life in Christ and desire to be fathered by God as the pink sky turned bright and warm on the horizon.

Not every camp or outing is as powerful as this one. I pray they are and have seen Him come for the boys in many ways, healing, lives saved, bonding, release from agreements that were untrue and more. I love how He is joyful and playful. I love how He takes these times and uses them to do mighty things.

Lord, thank you. Thanks for loving on these boys, on me, on the men and women who faithfully pour into these times for You. See ya soon? Maybe hunt camp? I pray we do.

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