Counsel for Counsellors
This Counsel for Counsellors was compiled by four brethren who have been active in camp work, and whose ministry has been made a spiritual success on many occasions: Richard Burson, Leonard Linstead, Donald Norbie, and Karl J. Pfaff.
Realizing the need for help on Camp Counselling, the following has been compiled for those who may be making their first attempt at being a counsellor. Perhaps the whole prospect is a little “scary” as you think of being father, mother, and spiritual adviser to a group of youngsters. You have a wonderful opportunity and it is well to think of it seriously. During those few, precious days in camp, your influence may change the whole life and eternal destiny of some boy or girl. It surely is fitting to spend much time in prayer as preparation.
Perhaps you have not yet led a soul to Christ; therefore, the following advice may prove helpful to you. The goal of camp work is to bring the unsaved to Christ. This is the work of God; consequently, we humans must be cautious. We cannot turn out converts as we do Ford parts. It is our hope that these suggestions may prove helpful. If at any time you are in doubt as to what to do, have the camp director or one of the invited speakers help you in dealing with the child.
The first requisite in the work of leading a person to the Saviour is to ascertain whether or not that person knows his own spiritual need. For example, one might ask himself these questions: Does this child see his need? Why does he want to be saved? When does he want to be saved? What is his attitude toward sin; toward God; toward Christ?
A satisfactory answer to these questions will naturally result in a scriptural presentation of human sinnership. This may be done by reading to the child such verses as: “All have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). “All we like sheep have gone astray” (Isa. 53:6).
Such biblical lessons should lead to teaching the child human helplessness. There are so many passages in the Holy Scripture the reading of which to any normal child will clarify this truth: “For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly” (Rom. 5:6). “For the wages of sin is death” (Rom. 6:23). The parable of the lost sheep in Luke 15 always appeals to a child. The debtor in need of having his debt forgiven is readily understood by an older child. Read to him Luke 7:41-42, and illustrate how one may be lost and how search may be made for him in his helplessness, and transfer the truth of the illustration to the spiritual need of each boy and girl. Emphasize that only through the death of Christ sins are forgiven (Acts 13:28-39). A debt in the corner store is not cancelled by a decision to pay cash in the future. All past accounts must be paid. Impress the young soul with the fact that Christ found man in death, and by dying He paid the debt of sin, which man because of his helplessness could not pay.
Conviction of sin must be obvious to the soul-winner before he presents the Gospel. Any camper who thinks that tomorrow or some other time is soon enough to be saved, is not actually convicted of his need of Christ. It is sometimes wise to ask the camper if it would not be a good idea to wait another day, or until after some future event.
One young camper came to his counsellor concerned for the salvation of another boy. “Why do you want to see your friend saved?” he was asked. “Because he is the only one in our cabin who is not saved, and we want him to get saved too, so that we can have a perfect cabin,” was his reply. “Did the friend in question want to be saved? Was there a realization of need with him?” The answers to these questions were not known.
God is a holy God, and sin is rebellion against Him. All need to be convinced that they stand as sinners before Him.
Presenting the Gospel
What a glorious message is found in the Gospel! “That Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures; And that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures” (1 Cor. 15: 3-4). The death, burial, and resurrection of Christ comprise the “good news” of salvation.
In the presentation of the Gospel, one must take into consideration the biblical concept of faith. What it means to believe. Of course, believing is receiving Him (John 1:12). One cannot receive unless he believes. Believing may be passive. One can believe a fact, and yet that belief not affect him, nor change in any way his life or habits. Receiving is active. It is taking Christ for one’s self as the Gift of God. A gift is gratefully received. Should not Christ be received gratefully: should He not be received in the simple manner in which a gift is received?
This point may be illustrated by the act of marriage. At a wedding the groom takes the bride to himself. No strange, mystical sense of feeling gives assurance one is truly married. Having taken the other person for himself, the marriage goes on record.
Often the matter of believing is confusing to children. Most children believe in the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ. They believe that the Bible is the Word of God and that Jesus Christ is the Son of the Living God. What has not been done is the matter of simply taking Christ as one’s personal Saviour. He must be confessed as Lord according to Romans 10:9, by first of all taking one’s place before Him as sinner, and then resting upon His work.
Faith will rest completely in Christ, in the value of His work finished upon the cross for salvation. Some trust in baptism for this, some in church-membership, some in communion, and some in other things. Only resting in the finished work of Christ will bring salvation and eternal life (John 3:16).
The dying thief in Luke 23 committed himself to the Saviour in perfect trust and rested completely in Him. Notice his appeal, “Lord remember me when Thou comest into Thy kingdom.” First, he addressed Christ as “Lord.” He acknowledged Him as Lord in compliance with Romans 10:9. This, of course, was a recognition of Christ’s Deity. Second, he requested, “Remember me.” He therefore anticipated the resurrection, for humanly speaking Christ was dying. Finally, he pleaded, “When Thou comest into Thy kingdom.”