The Present Of Presence: Camp Metro 2018
PRESENCE – Of God
Sluggishly I waited, hunched over the first rows of seats like a completely fatigued athlete, utterly exhausted by the typhoon of tears that had rushed over, through and out of the depths of darkest caverns of my soul, when he walked over... He sat down in front of me and without a word gently placed his hand on my arm. The deluge of emotion came over me again and I began weeping, weeping like I had never wept before. It was a loud painstakingly anguished weeping which seemed to be endless and unrelenting, piercing the deliberate silence as he just quietly remained present. A cornucopia of thoughts ran through my head, but the verse and chorus of the Gaither Vocal Band seemed to be on repeat:
Shackled by a heavy burden
'Neath a load of guilt and shame
Then the hand of Jesus touched me
And now I am no longer the same
He touched me, oh He touched me
And oh the joy that floods my soul!
Something happened and now I know
He touched me and made me whole
His hand gently remained, now having turned more into an embrace as my soul persisted on, determined to begin the detoxification of a hardened, callous ridden and diseased heart. As the echoes of my torment stopped ringing from the rafters of Strand Chapel, the first words that shattered the silence after the storm were spoken, “Dan, let’s get together this afternoon,” he suggested. I nodded in agreement, and I got up and he hugged me like I had never been hugged by another man before.
I met up with him later that afternoon and he was just present – fully present as I opened up my life. I shared my story, my deepest struggles, pains, heartbreaks. I told him things that I had never told anyone else before – all to a man I had just met. I did not know why I was doing this, but I did know his presence was proof that the loving God was present and moving. His counsel was profoundly simple, yet the love - the love of God was intensely evident.
When we were done, he wrapped his arms around me, prayed for me, hugged me, kissed me on my head and told me that he loved me. It was the first time ever in my life I ever been kissed by a man and it sort of felt like he became a “surrogate father” that day. I felt more relaxed and free in the love of God than I had ever before in my life. He told me that I needed to let myself grieve as my journey of healing began. For me, this was the start of Camp Metro 2018 and a new journey with God that had begun.
The manifestation of God’s presence was undeniable as He washed us in a healing through the powerful love of a brother named, Kevin Butcher, who had experienced the love of God many years after he had become a pastor. Now a missionary and impassioned with a call in sharing the centrality of the love of God, he was brought by God to transform Camp Metro into an "operating room" and surgically begin a health-giving therapy on many of our lives. Every morning we began with a session with Kevin where he zealously shared about how we can fully experience the love of God. God was powerfully PRESENT and moving. As the days progressed, we witnessed more and more individuals receiving counseling from Kevin. Each morning session made the day ahead so much more enjoyable and our encounters with Kevin felt like a touch from God.
PRESENCE - With Each Other
Camp Metro - which has been held at the Pilgrim Pines Retreat and Conference Center in Swanzey, New Hampshire for the last four years - is always an incredible time. It’s a chance to be present with each other through laughter, deep conversation, good food, fun, and where kids can just be kids (and adults can be kids again) - all in the safe confines of the Pines with its wonderful staff and counselors.
Camp Metro 2018 was another opportunity to slow down, take a deep breath, and just be present. God blessed us with a brother like Kevin Butcher to jump start that in order to begin to heal; to heal in ways we may never have before, by taking pause to bask in the all-encompassing, never ending love of God - all in the setting of Pilgrim Pines. I never imagined when I journeyed up to the Pines this year that I would begin a new journey once I got there. As I have reflected on the week at camp, I am reminded of something Kevin said, “Guilt says I made a mistake, but shame says I am the mistake.” I think in the midst of all my tears and my heart bleeding out to God, Jesus was whispering to me, “I love you Dan. I really, really love you. I died to forgive you, now forgive yourself and live life anew in my love.”
In the midst of the busyness of our lives, God poured out his infinite grace upon us to slow us down in order that He could be PRESENT with us, we could be PRESENT in his love, and we could be PRESENT with each other. Metro Community Church – I cannot guarantee next year will be as great of a camp as 2018 was, but won’t you consider taking pause and joining us at Camp Metro in 2019? I can guarantee that you will not regret it!
Submitted by Dan Kim