Columbus Day weekend Sally Jo and I had the privilege of returning to Wheaton, IL where we both grew up and attended Wheaton Academy. We had been asked to speak to the 650 students and faculty at their Friday morning chapel. In preparation for this, I called Deerfooter Paul Ferguson. He is Director of Admissions, Bible teacher, and head basketball coach at the Academy. Paul had been counselor DL for two summers, missed a summer, and then returned as Guide leader. He reminded me that in 1995 I had recommended him to Wheaton Academy as teacher and coach.
While a staff member at Deerfoot, Paul asked me to re-baptize him – the only time I have been asked to do this. Paul was baptized as an infant. As a young boy he went with his mom to a Billy Graham crusade. It was there they both accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.
At Deerfoot Lodge the significance of the decision he made at the Graham Crusade really hit him. Paul’s DL experience grounded him in his faith, and he came to realize the significance of Christian community. “Chief, will you please baptize me into the DL fellowship of believers?” Paul’s baptism was a statement to the DL community, and to the world, that he was fully committing his life to Jesus Christ as Lord.
Also while in Wheaton, businessman Jim Matson, a counselor our first year at Deerfoot (1982), asked if we could spend an hour together. Because of his camp experience and training, Jim was serving on the Board of Directors of an excellent ministry seeking a new Executive Director. We stretched the hour, but Jim had much yet to talk about. Jim also wanted to have another Board Member involved in the discussion. The only time we all had available was starting at 10:00 PM. The discussion was rather intense until after midnight. We talked through the importance of specific qualifications of a potential Executive Director, and the time necessary for the person to be comfortable enough to lead in his new position.
“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:2 NLB
Not much has changed at DL in the past 82 years. The setting is the same. Buildings have been added as the numbers increased to 160 campers per session – but the purpose and program components have not changed. The values of the world we live in continually change, but the values of Deerfoot Lodge do not change. I am confident that if Dad Kunz, Founder and Director for Deerfoot’s first 23 years, spent a week at camp, his heart would be filled with joy and thanksgiving.
Deerfoot Lodge encouraged Paul and Jim to welcome God’s transformation of their lives, and God is using both to encourage young people to welcome God’s transformation in their lives. The ripple effect of the DL ministry is tremendous.
The Biblical mandate is clear! The results of living the mandate are also clear!