By Bridget Halfyard
Kevin was an Australian horseback riding instructor who helped with our morning lessons. Every class turned into a laughter-filled adventure. On one occasion, he laced his fingers to make a platform of sorts for my foot. I stepped onto his hands and he gave me a boost—a big one. Up and over I went, landing on the opposite side of my horse. I came up with a mouthful of rodeo-ring dirt and a reputation for good sportsmanship.
Every day’s camp activities brought something fun and new. Over the course of the summer, Kevin and several other Australian imports tossed all of us on the other side of our horse. Their accent, crazy sense of humor, and appreciation for vegemite sandwiches made them popular staff members. Other staff came from Indonesia, Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, and France. Their presence proved to be the summer’s highlight. Their silly games, unique accents, modified campfire songs and unique after-dinner skits added a refreshing slant to the fun.
The foreigners and I shared a common love for Jesus. We read the same Bible verses and spread the same message of God’s love. Even though we sounded different and lived thousands of miles apart, our faith in Christ knit us together in a strong bond.
God plants unique abilities, skills, and talents in each of us to better our community and family while strengthening the Kingdom of God. In Paul’s letter to the Corinthians, he writes, “Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.” (1 Corinthians 12:27 NIV).
Riding instructors, campfire leaders, or anyone who shares a Vegemite sandwich is a reminder that we are united as the hands and feet of God on this earth. We reflect Jesus to a watching world when we serve together in peace and joy. My experience with the Australians and other international camp staff taught me that the body of Christ remains large and powerful.
Dear Lord, thank you for opening our eyes to new cultures and interesting people. Teach us to love and respect our brothers and sisters in Christ even though they sound and act differently than us. Help us to appreciate and value them as You do. Amen.