Friday, July 3, 2009

Camp Dynamite

Camp Dynamite is a camp run primarily for urban youth in Washington, D.C. by AMF missionaries Bob and Sharon Mathieu. I spent the day with Bob and Sharon recently. It was quite a day! I was presented with a Camp Dynamite t-shirt and was told about this two-week camp that’s run to help young people know who Jesus is. They learn Scripture; they hear messages; they sing together; they play together. They do everything that camp is, and in a very real way, this camp is the place where these kids – many of them for the first time in their lives – will feel accepted and loved by people who care for them.

Bob knows everyone in Washington, D.C. He’s been there a long time, and it was amazing to watch him interact with everyone we came in contact with, like the school principal. They love Bob. He’s part of the community. He didn’t set up a monastery or a private area where Christians could come. No, he’s out in the community, mixing with the people who struggle to make ends meet in the Anacostia area of the city. A little church meets in a building that the Mathieus own, and the church is a place of refuge, a place of sanctuary for the community. At the same time, the school has integrated Bob into its world. He’s provided free school supplies for teachers to be better teachers, working in partnership with World Vision.

What really impressed me was when we went to a wellness center where Bob has a Bible study for senior citizens. The wellness center has weight machines and massage and aerobics classes, things that help older people become healthier. We went to a small room where five or six older African-American women were waiting for Bob. They love him. They love the fact that he accepts them for who they are. I was more impressed with the fact that these women had asked, “Why should only children get to go to Camp Dynamite?” So for the last couple of years, Bob has invited senior citizens to Camp Dynamite. They come, and they play, and they worship, and they sing, and they meet Jesus.

Bob and Sharon Mathieu have a different style. They’re right with the people. They’re not administrators; they’re doers. They get their hands dirty. What I love about Bob and Sharon is that in a very true sense they are Jesus in that community. They talk about Him, but they don’t just talk about Him or preach about Him. They are Him – they take on characteristics of our Savior.

It was a marvelous day. I’m proud that people like Bob and Sharon Mathieu are part of our ministry at AMF.

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