“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1
Over the last decade or so, there has been a strong movement for obstacle course racing. The leading brand in obstacle course racing, Spartan Race, saw 400,000 participants in 2018. An obstacle course race (OCR) is not your typical 5K or half marathon. Typically in an OCR, you run over four miles while also overcoming obstacles. Obstacles can be swinging across giant monkey bars over a small body of water, crawling under barbed wire (with real barbed wire!), or climbing over a wall.
Why are people willing to pay for such a horrific event? Lots of different reasons. But for me personally, as grueling and challenging as an OCR is, I enjoy the camaraderie of teamwork on the course.
In my limited OCR experience, I’ve built upon my strengths and grown in my weaknesses, both mentally and physically. I have learned a lot from obstacle course racing. But the most important thing I’ve learned is that people are stronger together. Many of the obstacles require help from other racers. Some people need more help than others. And some people get hurt, needing assistance to finish the race. But we all work together. Another way I receive help is that I’ll often ask for advice from veteran racers on strategies and approaches for an obstacle. We have a common major goal (finish the race), and we have small tasks (obstacles and the next stretch of running) to get us to our major goal. Together we help each other accomplish goals that are seemingly impossible.
Much like Spartan races create an opportunity for individuals to come together and work as a team to overcome challenges, Frontier Camp provides a platform for high schoolers and college students to rapidly grow as individuals as they work together as a team to meet new challenges. For example, as a member of the Kitchen Crew, waking up at 5:30am to make breakfast each morning might be a huge obstacle that requires team effort! That would be quite the challenge for me!! Or learning to lifeguard to keep the waterfront safe might seem intimidating at first. But once you go through the course with your friends and fellow lifeguards beside you, the skills are attainable, and you can master them. The Wranglers have to work together as a team to make sure horses get fed, tacked, and lined up each day. It’s not a one man (or woman) job!
At Frontier Camp, we have a big goal: to make disciples. To accomplish that goal, we have to complete the small tasks. Staff cannot do the job if food is not served, so we need kitchen staff. Water activities will not be available unless we have lifeguards, so we train lifeguards. We have an amazing horse program, but we can’t run a horse program without our skilled Wrangler Crew.
My point? We are stronger together. For me, some of my deepest friendships were forged through my time spent on summer staff as I learned to work side by side with like-minded people to overcome obstacles. I learned quickly that it takes people to work together to accomplish kingdom work. This is not only true on the racecourse and at Frontier Camp, it is true in the Church as well.
“Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25
Each of us has gifts that support another brother or sister in Christ. We were not designed to follow Christ by ourselves. It is important to have regular fellowship within a local church body. And it is also imperative to get involved in a local church if you want to grow as a Christ-follower. Overcoming our personal obstacles is a lot easier when we’re doing it side-by-side with like-minded friends rallying behind us, helping us carry our load.
Without our local body of Christ, Sarah and I would not be in a good place spiritually. Adhering to the call of adoption has easily been the toughest challenge we have ever faced. At times we feel very alone. Many times we feel as though we have failed. At times, we feel lost and hopeless and confused and exhausted and apathetic.
But. We are stronger together.
Time and time again we have experienced Christ’s love and support through the hands and feet of our brothers and sisters from Frontier Camp and our local church. Brisket dinners. Sweet note cards. Verbal words of affirmation. Babysitting. Lending a hand on our home improvements that hit the backburner. We even have friends who will simply listen to us and say “yes, this is hard,” and don’t pretend to have the answers.
My encouragement to you is two-fold. If you’re a high school student or a college student (or you know one), I strongly encourage you to work at Frontier Camp. Secondly, be honest and analyze your church or ministry involvement. Maybe you’re at a healthy level of involvement. Maybe you need to get more involved. Join a Bible Study, lead a Bible Study, help in worship, help in the youth group, cook food with the Wednesday night hospitality team, or serve in a ministry to the marginalized. There is always a way to be involved.
I hope you are as encouraged as I am. There is no better way to run a race than to run it alongside your friends.