The vans, filled with teenagers, adults, and “Americans” had been on the road since 8:45 in the morning. It was now 8:30 at night. After hours of driving along winding roads, our team (which I’ve dubbed Team WinterCamp 2011) finally arrived at our destination in the village of Sinaia, Romania, as the sun disappeared over the mountaintops. We enjoyed dinner together – the first of many meals we will eat as a family this week – and then spent time getting to know some of the teens who had been selected to join us on the trip. I demonstrated my prowess at butchering the Romanian language, and then attempted to explain American “slang” to the kids (why it’s OK to say “one-oh-nine” rather than “one-hundred-nine”). We talked about favorite music and favorite actors. And then we all made our way up two flights of stairs.
We gathered in a meeting room.
The teens continued to laugh and talk as they sat around the long tables. There were introductions and announcements. And then something beautiful happened.
Ovidiu opened his Bible. And the room became still.
“I know our drive took a long time, and I know you are tired. But I don’t want this night to end without us spending just a few minutes together. I want to share something.”
And he read from 2 Corinthians 2.
14 But thank God! He has made us his captives and continues to lead us along in Christ’s triumphal procession. Now he uses us to spread the knowledge of Christ everywhere, like a sweet perfume. 15 Our lives are a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God. But this fragrance is perceived differently by those who are being saved and by those who are perishing. 16 To those who are perishing, we are a dreadful smell of death and doom. But to those who are being saved, we are a life-giving perfume. And who is adequate for such a task as this? 17 You see, we are not like the many hucksterswho preach for personal profit. We preach the word of God with sincerity and with Christ’s authority, knowing that God is watching us.
Ovidiu talked about what it meant to be the fragrance of life. He then painted word pictures of battlefield victory marches, with those who had surrendered their lives walking in cadence behind the conqueror. He prayed before, and he prayed after.
I looked around the room. Every teenager in it was listening intently. The same kids who were laughing with me about words were now taking in every word being said. They nodded, they took notes, they voiced their approval with one “yes” and “amen” after another. Their reverence and respect for the moment cut me to the quick. I thought about how often I allow distractions – like the hour of the day or the clutter of words - get in the way of what the Lord has to say to me.
As I close my eyes tonight, I thank God for the “something beautiful” happenings of the day. And I pray tomorrow will be a day of listening intently for each of us on the team. God has amazing things to say to everyone at this youth camp. Even me.