Some friends forwarded me information on an upcoming film called “Jesus Camp”. (I don’t want to comment much on the film since I only saw snippets — there may be balance within the film when viewed in its entirety.) From what I understand, the film shows a camp in North Dakota that is focused on Christian teachings and was probably chosen for the movie because they have practices that some may consider somewhat radical.
Here is a clip that is circulating around on Digg.com:
When I first saw the above video clip, I watched it within a frame on someone’s page (as I presume you are doing here.) However, when I clicked on the actual YouTube link and look at the comments, I was pretty disappointed at what I saw. I already understand that people become really strong and brave when they are behind a keyboard and they express thoughts that they would never dare to express in your face. But I thought that to balance out the 25 comments to this movie that I’d find at least one Christian voice among them that would try to make some sense to the non-Christians of the video. But I didn’t see one. Not one among them. And so, naturally, I was persuaded to write my own comment.
So, what exactly is so wrong and threatening about the video? I saw one image of children holding hands and praying. But of course that came at the very end of the video. Other images showed much earlier were of children crying against abortion and doing their own form of praise dancing — expressing themselves in an outlet that isn’t threatening to anyone.
I do have a few concerns about the video (and probably will share the same concerns about the movie). For one, non-Christians that view this out of scriptural context may receive this as “a bunch of crazy folks.” And that does the exact opposite of what we seek to do as Christians. No, our mandate as Christians isn’t to make the gospel attractive. (The good news of Christ and the promise that he makes is attractive enough on its own.) But hopefully this wouldn’t dissuade folks from learning more about Christ (which would help them to gradually understand why these children are this passionate.)
The other concern I have (and one that is much larger) is the fact that I pray that Pastor Becky Fisher (as shown in the video) is anointed (led by Christ) to do the work that she is doing and that she is seeking Christ in her efforts to work with these children.
(Note: I never want to speak against the man or woman of God — she may be called to a purpose that I don’t understand — and don’t need to understand since it’s her purpose. Perhaps her purpose in life is to get people to seek Christ so they can understand exactly what the fuss is about this ‘Jesus’ that these kids are crying and dancing about? Whatever her motivation, I pray that she’s anointed to do what she’s doing and that she’s seeking God as she moves forward with her ministry.)
That having been said, one might wonder if the children are being pushed to accept Christ before they are ready and able to understand why they should. Where I worship, I love the leadership that I worship under and one of the reasons why is because they believe that children should come to accept Christ on their own volition. This doesn’t mean that children can’t come and listen and learn about God during the service. However, if you are going to serve in the ministry or be a part of the fellowship, you should certainly have accepted Christ on your own. After all — it’s His way. Going back to the New Testament scripture, when Christ first began his ministry, he asked folks to come to him. He didn’t force people. And many didn’t come. But some did. The point is that Christ isn’t going to force his way into our lives. You have to invite him in and let him know that you desire to have a relationship with him. So, I pray that these kids aren’t going to end up having a grudge against Christ one day because their parents forced them to attend this camp.
I didn’t grow up as a Christian. We hardly ever went to church. But when God finally revealed Himself to me, it was a beautiful thing. And I think my relationship with Christ (which is totally separate and apart from my duties in the wonderful ministry which he led me to) is much stronger because I wasn’t forced to go to church as a child. Initially upon my first visits to church as an adult, the experiences were a bit “eye opening” (and, being honest, sometimes a bit frightening) to see the Holy Spirit at work when you aren’t accustomed to it. But the positive thing is that my life as a relatively new Christian is still full of fresh and new experiences. I haven’t been exposed so long that I’ve heard every sermon or know everything that’s going to happen. God reveals new things to me all the time.
The last thing I want to deal with is the notion that the children are “worshipping George Bush”. The poster on YouTube retracted this claim — but of course he did it in the video’s description which you can hardly see — but the post still says in big letters “Children Worshipping a Picture of George Bush”. So basically people are still reacting to thinking that the kids are worshipping George Bush. (I tell you — the tactics the enemy uses to cause confusion and to get people away from Christ is so sad, it’s funny sometimes.) While I wasn’t personally present for any of the shots in the movie, I can probably deduce that these kids were showing honor and respect to the Commander In-Chief of these great United States that everyone is breaking their neck to try to live in.
I thank God that as part of my ministry training, our Pastor (a wonderful woman) showed us that the scripture teaches us to respect authority. I had some problem with this at first, and I still struggle with it on some level, but the overall message is important.
Understand this: I absolutely do not agree with the politics of George Bush or the Bush administration. I think that this administration has shown a lack of compassion for the poor of our country. I think the administration has led us into a war based on fear when there are much more meaningful ways of helping our citizens. Though those who seek to have us fight among ourselves would have you believe that every Christian is a Conservative and that every believer in Christ voted for George Bush, I would have you to know that this simply isn’t true. God never required that we support George Bush or Conservative politics. As are the tricks of the enemy, take the most polarizing topics and have the middle class fight among themselves on issues of abortion and gay marriage while the real issues that affect our quality of life (like when things like hurricanes hit our town or when our children are sent to fight in countries in places they can’t find on a map) are left untouched. There’s an entirely different post that is begging to be written called, “Was Jesus a Liberal or a Conservative — or neither?”, but that’s a topic for another discussion.
Getting back to “worshipping George Bush”, the children were probably showing their patriotism for this country and respecting the office of the presidency — regardless of who sits in the Oval Office. We shouldn’t be condemning George Bush and calling him “stupid” and a “monkey” as I’ve seen quite often recently. We need to be praying for him. We need to pray that the God that he claims to follow would convict his heart and move Him to act in a way that helps him to best represent our country. I pray that one day he will read the book of Matthew and I pray that he will pay special attention to the fifth chapter and that he would stay on verses 7-9:
(In the King James Translation):
“Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.”
Matthew 5 : 7-9, King James Translation
So — are there images that we might want to be concerned about in Jesus Camp? Perhaps. Should we be worried that these children are going to take up a radical stance and hurt people or make the world unsafe because of what they learn? Of course not. Those who are short-sighted and watch this video will jump to conclusions and “connect the dots in their minds” between this innocent camp and adults who one day seek to shoot abortion clinic doctors. If Pastor Fisher is teaching the scripture and how to respond to our enemies as Christ showed in His examples (and later his disciples spoke to the world), don’t worry, fearsome folks. The only thing that these kids will be doing is praying for your salvation and trying to live in a way that’s right and pleasing to God.
I pray that those who are not Christians and are watching this video would not be “turned off” from Christ because they don’t like what they see. There are thousands of ways to express your love of Christ. This is one way. There are others. There may be some that you are attracted to and others that you just don’t like. I don’t “love” every gospel song that has ever been made, but there are some that truly inspire me. So, if you choose to distance yourself a bit from the way that this fellowship works, that’s ok. But don’t rob yourself of an opportunity to get to know God for yourself. Reach out to God. If you’ve never prayed before, pray right now that he would reveal himself to you. And once you begin to know Him, you’ll be able to digest these spiritual matters without the fear that I’m seeing on message boards. (If you made it all the way to the end of my post, God bless you. :-))