This summer I have been working with an organization called A Christian Ministry in The National Parks (ACMNP) in Yellowstone National Park. I have been working alongside two fellow dudes and together we provide two inter-denominational worship services each Sunday and bible studies for our many co-workers who work for secular concessionaires throughout the park. The core goal of our ministry this summer is not to change the lives of the here-today-gone-tomorrow tourists, but to change the lives of the employees we will live and work with for the three months we are here.
Deciding whether or not to come out here was a tough decision for me. It was difficult for me to overcome the fear of Uncertainty. Why am I doing this? Will I make any friends? Will our ministry even make a difference? Will I lose my girlfriend? All of these questions nearly threw me off course when deciding whether or not to commit to a low-income summer far from home without any friends.
But now, halfway through the summer, those questions continue to be answered by God. I am discovering that the answer to my first question is this: my co-workers came to Yellowstone in search of something. I am here to lead them to who they are looking for. The answer to my second question is a ‘what the flip Chip’ YES! God has been blessing me with so many friends I have begun to lose count. I think part of this may be because he has opened my heart to be more loving and welcoming of people. This increased level of love has allowed me to minister to people I normally wouldn’t. Back in the day I would justify me lack of ministry by saying “mah, I don’t need to talk to her, she’s just a stranger!” But now, it seems like there are no strangers here, everyone has become a friend of mine. I am no longer let off the witness-hook if somebody is “just a stranger”. The answer to my third question is already a strong ‘yes’. There has been more than one occasion where a tourist has said “thank you so much for your service; I was praying last night that our family would find one.” But the brunt of our ministry’s importance comes with the employees. Many employees are starting to realize that the three Christians in camp seem to have the missing puzzle piece for their lives. They ask us, “Why are you always smiling?” “Why are you so caring for us strangers?” Many people are beginning to find what they’ve been looking for all along; God’s unconditional love. The answer to my fourth question has thankfully been ‘no’. I believe that when a person sacrifices something for God, God often returns that something in a shape ten times better than when it was sacrificed. Additionally, this time away from Emily has given us ample time to examine our relationship to insure its authenticity. Over the course of the summer, Emily has been more than willing to put God first in our relationship. I believe that God will reward us for that.
In the end, this summer has taught me not to worry. God has plans for us, sometimes scary, but always beneficial plans. It has been a wonderful experience getting to dig into the lives of others and spill out the love that God has so lavishly spilled on me.