It was 2011 and I was paddling down the Edisto River in South Carolina with two other chiefs and ten campers from Cameron Boys Camp. Little did I realize at that time what big things God had in store.
We had set out on a 12-day river trip that would help prepare us for a longer trip on the James River in Virginia later that summer. The excitement was high as we looked forward to a great adventure. But as with all trips, we were a little nervous—it turned out for good reason.
We soon realized this wasn’t going to be a trip where we knocked out a lot of mileage at the beginning of the day, allowing us time in the afternoons for swimming and exploring. On this first day, we were stopped by a major obstacle—more than a dozen trees had fallen across the river, completely blocking our way. We pulled the canoes from the water and while the group problem-solved the best course of action, a powerful, but seemingly unimportant, conversation began between a boy and his chief.
One of the campers had been struggling. He listened to the chiefs talk about a god who cared about him and the other boys but he was skeptical. His life, up to this time, cast a shadow over his heart. So, Chris decided to test the god that the group had been talking about. He would pray a prayer to see if God really cared about him.
His prayer went something like this: “God, if you really care about me, I want my group to meet a man who drives a big truck, wears
bib overalls, has gray hair, and gives us deer burgers.”
No one laughed. Some of the boys nodded, while one camper said “amen.” The prayer was not mentioned again until day three—the toughest day of the whole trip.
The river narrowed. As we turned the bend, we were confronted by more fallen trees. We were in and out of the water, hacking dead
branches, going around or squeezing under large trees that lay across the river. Making things worse, we found ourselves in an
oxbow—we were on a portion of the river that wasn’t the main channel. The trees now encroached from both banks. At this point,
I said a prayer of my own asking God to help us figure out where we were and how to get back to where we needed to be.
Just as things became bleak, the trees crept back to reveal a large open field. I took a breath and gave thanks. The field was made
by large machines that clear cut about 100 acres of woodland through which the river now flowed.
We weren’t out of the proverbial woods yet. But I was grateful. Remnants of tangled branches made the paddling hard as we worked back into the shade of standing trees.
One of the boys called our attention to a grassy boat ramp ahead. There were no signs or any indication that would keep us from making it our campsite for the night. We all gave a sigh of relief.
As we unpacked our canoes, the boys and chiefs set out on their agreed upon tasks to make this area “home” for the night. And then the most remarkable thing occurred.
Shortly after the group went about their chores, I heard the rumblings of a truck. I looked up and saw a few boys, along with a chief, who had set out to gather firewood riding in the back of an approaching truck. I feared we would have to move the camp site. I wasn’t sure what to do—other than pray again.
The truck was a big 3500 Dodge dually. It came to a stop and the driver opened the door. There stood before us a tall man with unruly gray hair. The man told us that he owned the property and told us that we had made camp on a small part of his nearly 4,000-acre hunting club.
I began to apologize when a smile broke across his sunbaked face. He introduced himself as “Mister Junior” and welcomed us to spend the night. And then it happened. Mister Junior said he imagined we were all hungry, and he invited us to a cookout where deer burgers were to be the main course!
There was an audible gasp. I could hear a murmur in the group. Then we heard Chris as he softly said, “God answered my prayer.”
Answered prayer reminds us just how great our God is. The answer to Chris’s prayer ignited a fire in the group. The campers were determined after meeting Mister Junior to pray to God about all things—taking it a little too far they added to Chris’s request that night, ice cold watermelon and sweet tea.
The chiefs and I took the opportunity to teach the boys to pray
instead for restored relationships in their families, a renewed love for their parents, and the energy and desire to work hard toward their goals. God’s timing is perfect. And I am convinced His answers come at the right time to meet our needs. Cameron Boys Camp and Camp Duncan for Girls need chiefs. Baptist Children’s Homes is in need of staff across the state. Help spread the word.
Learn more by visiting www.bchnc.org/career.
I get excited when I reflect back on Chris’s answered prayer. I know in this season of needs, God is about to do some miracles—in just the right time. By the way, Mister Junior wasn’t wearing bib overalls that day, but knowing the God we serve, I know there were more than one pair hanging in his closet.
By Brad Gearhart, Director, Camp Duncan for Girls