I am never quite sure how to describe my encounters with the Holy Spirit. Well, that’s not exactly true – I can tell you about them one at a time, individual events, but when it is a prolonged period, say, two weeks, it gets a bit harder.
Just a week or two before the Kids Outdoor Zone summer hunting camps were to begin I was wallowing in fear and concern that there would not be enough kids at each camp, that we might not have enough money to host them, that the new ranch might not work well for us. I also found myself questioning my calling, was I really suppose to be doing camps, taking all that time away from whatever else I might be doing. Oh, how Satan hates God’s warriors doing His business.
In the last day or two before we were to leave the tides turned and my spirit began to rise. The first camp was going to be a group of girls, some I knew, others I had never met. As I learned the family dynamics and backgrounds of the girls we began to pray into the time we were going to spend with them.
Some girls so desperately need to know a loving father in their lives. They long for the love and embrace, the slow and deliberate conversations, the attention of a male role model. The one thing we have to be able to share with them in KOZ is that there is a heavenly Father who is always there for them, with them, and He will never leave them, never forsake them, never hurt them, never. Others may be searching for an identity, a truth as to who they are or can be. We prayed, “Lord, come and shepherd their hearts”.
We also pray Lord, “What is it, which book of the Bible do You want us to teach from, what movies will speak to their hearts? What do You want us to do for Your glory?” The book of Job was what we were given for the camps and we spent time there placing the story in their lives.
The girls came together as a group fast and it was clear right up front that they were all in for anything we could put in front of them. The ranch provided a long list of firsts for most of the girls. The first time to shoot a gun or a pistol. The first time to drive a four wheeler, use a chain saw, see all the exotic animals, hunt, take an animal while hunting, skin it, eat it and the list goes on and on.
Like all the camps we were up early with a 5:30 wake-up knock on their bunkroom door and 6am meeting in the dining hall. Each day included several girls going with myself (TJ) on the stealth electric four wheeler and the others on the larger gas powered mule vehicle. Cruising fields and pastures, ranch roads and feeding areas each day over the more than 600 acre ranch kept everyone occupied in the mornings. The mid days included outdoor skills training or hunters safety training (each girl was trained and passed the Texas Hunters Safety course and will receive their cards in the mail). They also spent hours with a chainsaw cutting trees that had died from the drought the year before.
Like usual the girls hit it out of the park in the archery and shooting skills. The KOZ girls have proven to be a thorn in the side of the KOZ boys in shooting sports because they just seem to win all the competitions they have, funny. Patience, easy to teach and joyful are the markers common among the girls.
When it was all said and done, the girls did a fantastic job. A huge ram, a beautiful black buck doe, and a monster hog were hanging in the freezer. The trapping systems and lessons provided a bobcat and an armadillo, as well – it was perfect.
Two girls professed their love for Jesus and were baptized. There were so many moments of sheer beauty when the girls shared their deepest emotions. Breaking through the lies they had believed, finding the pure joy of their Father’s love, becoming empowered to be the beautiful and strong warrior they are was simply incredible. They Pinks steal our hearts every time.
Then with a day in-between to wash the towels and sheets the boys rolled in. Don Discoe, KOZ leader at Fellowship Church SW in Austin, brought two youth leaders and helped prepare the ranch for the boys. During our time together we talked about a bible study he and I are doing in the book of James. The book of James took over my thoughts and prayers as the boys began to arrive. That was what we would study, five chapters and each one a man’s guide to living in Him. Yes the plan was to study Job, but I have learned that when the Holy Spirit tells you something, best to just do it.
Each of the boys came with expectations and dreams of what the hunt camp would be. Some carried a lot of father wounds, some searching for who they are and what they stand for.
I have done camps with kids for years and I have to say I have never seen a group of boys come together like this one did. They worked together, studied together, helped each other in an amazingly orchestrated tempo every day. They got themselves up at 5:30 ready to go every day. They worked hard in the heat of the day cutting trees, shooting, working on fence lines. They were simply incredible.
Each boy harvested a nice ram at the camp and one took a big boar hog, well deserved.
Two baptisms were a highlight as the boys proclaimed new lives in Christ. At this camp the Holy Spirit moved in ways I have prayed to see for years. He moved through the boys. By the campfire one night I saw a young leader (father is not active in his life) mentoring and teaching a young fatherless boy. I wept in the shadows as I listed in amazement. They talked about growing up and the pressure of being a teenager. The young fatherless boy told the young leader, “I have never been talked to like that, thank you.” After the young fatherless boy had gone I told the young leader how proud I was of him, that he had done God’s work right then. He turned to me and said, “you taught me that, Mr. Greaney.” No better gift for me, I could barely breath. Thank God. So often I wonder if they are really getting it, their role as a leader.
Each camp this year ended with the parents picking the kids up from the ranch and the kids taking them for a tour. They drove the four wheel mule and electric cart all over showing off their driving skills and knowledge of the animals. They were beaming.
All I can say is that every time we put the Lord first, when we truly pray for Him to come and cover these outings, He does in mighty and wonderful ways.
These are “big picture” stories but each week, each month there are kids lives being poured into by KOZ leaders at individual KOZ groups all around the country. It is the support of you who contribute in prayer, monetarily or just by kind words of encouragement that give KOZ the ability to change the lives of kids and the leaders who meet the Holy Spirit in ways they have never experienced. Know that every desire of our hearts are to bring KOZ under the fully and mighty authority of our loving Father and we are humbled to be His servants.