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The fire burns brightly piercing the darkness – almost symbolic of things to come. Add the powerful preaching of the Word, the quickening of the Spirit of God, open hearts of families or students, a challenge for commitment . . . and you have the potential for life change.

I have stood at hundreds of campfire services and seen people make commitment decisions. I have watched them throw a piece of wood into a fire, tie a ribbon on a cross, light a candle, or just simply kneel in prayer. Some responded with great joy because of relief, while others wept uncontrollably. A few ran forward immediately and others waited, prayerfully walking as if contemplating every step.

“Are Campfire Decisions Real?” One man asked me, “How do you know all those people who responded at the campfire really meant it?” To which I replied, “I don’t. That is not my business. That is between the individual and God.”

After I preach at a campfire service, I like to remind campers their decision will not change their life, only their direction. It is what they do after the decision that will change their life. I think this is where we come in as leaders and adults. Instead of wasting time worrying if someone really meant a decision; let’s help them know what to do now that they are moving in a different direction.

Campfire services are high on my radar right now because we are in the midst of camping season at Word of Life. This summer I am preaching at four of our Word of Life New York camping locations: The Pines, The Lodge, The RanchThe Wild, and The Island. I love watching students and families make decisions at each of these camps.

I am reminded that it was on Word of Life Island as a counselor with my friend Tom Phillips (Director of Music Ministry/Chaplain Word of Life) our direction changed. I think back forty-five summers ago when the two of us walked forward together at the very same campfire site, threw a stick in the fire and made a “campfire decision.” So . . . I guess some of them are real.

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