Before there was anything here at camp, we built a Yurt (yert). It’s a round, tent-like structure that was for all intensive purposes- Camp Headquarters… and it was the place where I first encountered Jerry. I say encountered, not met, because if you know Jerry, every meeting is an encounter.
Jerry is in his 60’s and before he was a camp director like myself he worked with his hands- plumbing, electrical, carpentry, etc. He still does some construction work but most of the work he’s done with me has been “re”-construction. Our first meeting was in the yurt with our contractor at the time- Dave and the matriarch to Canaan- Aana Lisa; it was 2008.
The introduction and quick tour of the soon to be camp was simple and harmless. Then we all piled in the yurt around a table and that’s when everything changed. Jerry began to speak. Now he had asked a few questions along the tour. He praised God for the beauty of the island, the vision and the children that would soon be served here, etc. But it wasn’t until he started sharing with us about the high calling of Christian camping and the impact that camp has on human hearts that I knew things were different with him.
Jerry would not like the fact that I’m spending so much time hemming and hawing about him- “Get to the point- get to the crux of it all,” he would say. “It’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s all about Him- every single bit of it.” His words echoed off the plywood floor that day and ricochet into my heart. Up until that point, I had become accustomed to “bear all things” for the cause of Christ- especially Camp Canaan- the fruit of many years of labor.
I didn’t think it was about me. To the contrary, the very reason Tiffany and I and Aana Lisa were here, why we’d passed on job opportunities, accrued debt, taken risks and moved to Rock Hill was all in pursuit of this dream that “could be”. It wasn’t about us or for us- we were doing it in response to his calling. To be a part of something so much bigger than ourselves. Something that would be a resource and a blessing to many for years to come. It wasn’t about me… was it?
Later Jerry taught me something profound that I can reference now- actually two things: what we do and how we do them are two totally different things- action and motive. The 2nd principle he taught me since that first meeting is that you never know how to interpret what your doing when your in it but you can see clearly when you look back and “remember” and God gives you insight (hindsight is 20/20 as my Dad says).
I can remember many moments in that first encounter with Jerry, but the one that jolted me was that “it’s not about me”. Those words can do two things to a person- fortify a defense or soften a heart. They did the later for me and changed the course of my ministry and life forever. What proceeded from that encounter I hope to capture in a series of dialogues that Jerry and I have exchanged through e-mail, phone calls and trips to Starbucks. Most of the entries will be directly from Jerry (limited editing) with my response and reflections following.