BY: SYDNEY NELSON
Sydney is a Masters of Divinity student at Asbury Theological Seminary. She currently serves on staff at Glen Lake Camp & Retreat Center as she pursues her passion for camp ministry.
God as Creator and God as Father can sometimes be presented as if the two personas exist outside of one another. However, the truth is that God encompasses both titles in a harmonious union. The fruition of this union can be seen in many places but can often best be seen and experienced in the world of outdoor ministry. By outdoor ministry, I am referring to those organizations or camps that function to bring the Word of God to souls within the setting of creation. While often this is geared towards camp ministry, it is not exclusive to it.
Often, outdoor ministry is seen as a separate entity from the church as a whole. However, it is simply an extension of the church taking place in an unconventional setting. Creation has a way of reminding us that no matter where we were before coming into it, all of us are equal under the vast night sky, looming trees, blankets of grass, muddy hills and running water. The vast night sky makes us feel small, while also making us feel seen and known. The looming trees and blankets of grass offer comfort and security in the midst of a vast wilderness. The muddy hills offer the thrill of adventure, or simply the chance to release one’s inner child to play in the mud. The running water provides refreshing coolness and life-giving nectar for the body. Within the world of creation, and within the world of outdoor ministry, something much greater than ourselves is the driving force behind the life of these things that surround us within creation.
Outdoor ministry allows us to experience creation for its beauty, its power, its provision, and even its care. All of those elements can point us back to the Creator while simultaneously experiencing the Father. Creation knows who the Creator is before the individual soul realizes their identity as a child of the Father through Christ's work on our behalf. But God, who is both Creator and Father, cares for all with love. Creation points us back to the magnificent power and intricately woven care God takes in all endeavors. How much then does the Father love and intricately weave himself throughout our lives and souls if even the minnows of the smallest ponds have God’s attention? Outdoor ministry allows us to experience the unfathomable vastness of God’s power and imagination, the thrilling adventure of exploration among life outside of humanity and the intricately intentional love the Father has for all His children and His creation in simultaneous collisions.