The first time that I ever went to The Masters Inn was when I was almost 15 years old.  It was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years of high school.  At first, I really didn’t want to come because that week I had a little league all-star tournament.  Of course, I begged my parents until they told me that I could do the baseball tournament.  The deal was, though, that as soon as my team lost out of that tournament, I had to go to church camp.   My team made it through two games and then lost.  Looking back now, I’m glad we lost that game.

So here I was, showing up to this camp on Tuesday or Wednesday after everyone else came that Sunday, not knowing that these next couple days were going to completely change my life.  I remember the speaker talked about us all having our own type of “baggage” that we carried around on our shoulders.  I didn’t really know what he was talking about at first, but then after really listening to what he was saying, I realized how I was lost and needed to change.  I needed God in my life.  When he asked if anybody had any decisions to make at the end, I knew that I was being called to make mine.  That’s when I made the decision to really accept Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.

So I was saved! Life is awesome, great.  I couldn’t wait to go back to camp the next year.  I went back that next year, the year after that, and the year after that!  And each time staying there, God showed me something huge that I need to work on to have a better walk with Him.  I needed to (and still do) become more of a “man of God.”   I need to constantly be in prayer, and I need to constantly be seeking after Him.  I’ve learned that if I’m really doing that, then I will actually have a close relationship with God.  The point is that this camp focuses on the gospel AND building that closer relationship with God.  And with that, the campers that go back home every week can actually go spread the Word and show others what God is all about.

 Another thing that this camp does so well is that it teaches the kids how to rely on and put their faith in God.  Over the past couple of years, my family and I have been going through a hard time.  On Wednesday, November 9th, 2011, my mother sent my brothers and me off to school just like normal.  During that day around lunchtime, she called my father from work and told him that she needed to go to the hospital because she had found some bruises on the inside of her mouth.  By around seven o’clock that night, she had been diagnosed with an acute form of leukemia.  Completely shocked, I didn’t know what to think.  After a night of hardly any sleep at all, I wake up at around five in the morning to find my father rushing out of the house to the hospital.  Instead of going straight to school that morning, we went to the hospital to see my mom with my grandmother.  After sitting in the waiting room of the hospital for a couple hours, my brothers and I decided to go back to school to get our minds off of things.  The only thing that anybody would tell us was that they are transporting her to the hospital in Richmond; to us, that was a sign of hope because that meant that there could have been something that the doctors could do to help her.  So we went back to school, and ended up getting called out early.  My father had sent my youth pastor to pick us up and take us to the hospital.  As we were walking in through the doors to where everybody was supposed to be at, my two brothers and I were met by my father saying “She’s gone, boys.”  There wasn’t anything the doctors could have done; the leukemia caused a cerebral brain hemorrhage.  Basically, she bled into her brain, and it couldn’t function anymore.

With this, all that I knew what to do was to turn to God.  “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28.  That has been one of my favorite verses.  These past two years have been really tough, but my family and I have gotten through it with God’s help.  I’ve relied on Him when I have been down, and so has my family.  We know that God has brought good out of this situation.  There were over 600 people at my mother’s funeral, and they all heard the gospel.  Through her death, people got to hear God’s Word.  I’ve seen how God can work in mysterious and wonderful ways first hand.

Now, I am going through college at Virginia Tech and facing the different things that are set before many people there. Because of what I was raised on and what is taught at this camp – God’s Word – I know that God is always there and desires to have a relationship with us. I’m only one camper who has gone here; there is a whole lot more.  This camp invests so much into its kids that come here every summer.  It preaches the gospel to kids, showing them how to put their faith in God through the good times, and the bad times, and shows them how to have a real relationship with God.  For that, I sincerely thank everyone at The Masters Inn for all that they do.