Ok, so I finally got to see the “The Lord’s Bootcamp” CBS 48 hour special.  Here are my thoughts:

I liked the idea of preparing teens to become global minded believers by exposing them to the needs of the world.  Since I was formerly in the military, I like the idea of a “boot camp.”  In boot camp, you are broken down as an individual so that you can become a better team player.  When I was a teen I know I had some issues with authority, disrespect, and wanting my own way, so I can see how this type of training could be effective to creating a team that follows instructions.  When you are going half way around the world, you don’t need one person deciding on their own plan to the harm of the rest of the team.

During the show, a counselor said, “If you don’t want to work, you shouldn’t come.”  I thought this was key.  Teens should know what they are getting into when they sign up for something like this and not be forced into it by their parents.  However, I did see how Val was impacted by her trip to Africa.  It may not do much for her now, but it could really be something she looks back on as she considers her path in life.

I liked how the founder of the camp acknowledged, “We can’t change people.”  “We have no control over these kids once they leave.”  He has simply created an enviroment where change can happen and God can work on these teen’s hearts.  His desire is for teens to “take responsibility to take the Gospel to the world.”  I agree with this.  We can make the challenge, but it’s up to the individual to decide.  It should never be forced in any way. 

The Zambia trip seemed like a great experience for the team.  Foot washing is a great way for Christians from America to come into another culture…as servants, humble, and willing to make themselves of “no reputation.”  We did this type of ministry last year in one of the rougest parts of Guatemala City, and it had a profound on our team, on the Guatemalan Christians working with us, and on the children and families we served. 

My hope would be that short term trips like this, expensive as they can be, would lead to more dedicated and servant hearted long term missionaries serving all over the world.  I also was glad to see the African brothers serving the people of their nation.  They are the unsung heroes who serve day and night and don’t have the ability to get back on a plane and escape the realities of places like Zambia.

The Indiana ministry took some guts, but I squirmed at some of the antics of Tabby.  She certainly has zeal, but not alot of wisdom yet….but hey, she was 13!  Their seem to be some lack of true compassion and brokeness in her ministering to the elderly lady who was obviously moved.  Tabby probably could have done alot more by loving on this precious lady rather than running for a form! 

The survey outreach, though a little hokey and awkward, was probably a way to overcome the teens depth of knowledge of what they were speaking about.  Tabby’s “got another one” comment was very flippant and shows that although she understands heaven and hell in concept, she doesn’t fully understand the weight of these realities.  But in reality, how many of us really do?  Of course, I think there are much better ways to engage people.  But how many of us live a private closest faith and never talk with anyone about God’s Word and how it has impacted our lives?   

So, all in all, I thought the documentary was fair.  It showed a decent cross section of experiences at the camp, although I’m sure there were alot more strong, stable, wise, and zealous teens they could have chosen to follow.  I liked something about the character and story each of the three girls portrayed and I was also concerned by aspects of all three’s behavior.  Isn’t that how we all can be sometimes?  A little bit of hero and a little bit of train wreck….

If you read this and are thinking, “how could people still be preparing to be missionaries in the 21st century”?  Good question.  The answer is that as Christians, we are still commanded to “go into all the world and preach the Gospel” as a part of our faith in Jesus.  See my page on “Missions in the Bible” for references. 

Lastly, it would be good to keep in mind that America is not the only country sending Christian missionaries.  In fact, many other countries send many more missionaries per capita than America.  The new missions movements are coming out of Asia, Africa, and Latin America.  The Great Commission of Matthew 28:19-20 and Matt 24:14 will be fulfilled with or without America and Europe.

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