Man of Fire
Randy Thompson knows God can turn the smallest spark into a blaze of faith.
He’s seen it year after year as the designated campfire builder for the Junior Retreat of Kids Street Children’s Ministry at the Blowing Rock Assembly Grounds in Blowing Rock, N.C.
The Junior Retreat is a three-day spiritual retreat for younger elementary school-age children.
Thompson’s part in the experience started when Tim Gerber, executive pastor for children and ministries, asked him to bring the wood and get the campfire going in 2007 for the retreat’s closing assembly.
Seeing Thompson’s heart for children and how well he worked with them, Gerber asked him to join the retreat's counseling corps two years later.
“That’s when the Junior Retreat tradition for me truly began,” said Thompson, who learned fire-building and campfire safety growing up as a member of Boy Scout Troop 941 in Kernersville.
“I do it for the love of the kids and, most of all, for the Lord’s work and the kid’s salvation and eternity’s sake,” he said. “Campfires are something people enjoy and that God uses because they bring people together.
“Seeing the kids racing across the field to the fire pit once I’ve got everything set up, watching them eat S’mores and listen intently to the devotion, and seeing and hearing them ask questions and want to learn more about Jesus, is thrilling to me.
“The retreat is not just fun and games with Mr. Tim but just as much time spent in devotions, discussions, and activities to help children learn more about Jesus and grow closer to him,” Thompson added.
“Spending this time together and in God’s word is the key to showing them direction for their lives which will enable them to keep growing in the Lord.
“The kids are great,” he said. “They listen and follow directions and show respectfulness, kindness, care, love and maturity to each other and the counselors, leaders, and staff.”
This year’s Junior Retreat was June 24-26, and after the campfire service and S’mores, Gerber said two more children contacted their counselors who prayed with each as they accepted Jesus Christ as Savior.
Overall, he added, 1,200 campers and hundreds of counselors have experienced Kids Street’s mountain and beach camp experiences since 1997.
“There is something about getting away, removing everyday distractions, and the beauty of the mountains and camp setting that God uses to touch young hearts,” Gerber said.
“Whether it’s a first-time commitment of faith in Jesus Christ, or the first of many steps toward that point, or a child further maturing in faith, we’ve never come off the mountain the same as we’ve gone up as a group.
“Counselors and volunteers like Randy are part of how God does that, and I’m incredibly blessed and grateful to have known and served alongside them.”