“She’s wonderful,” exclaimed Mary Anne to a fellow Abundant Life camper as I served them slices of cheese for their sandwiches. The response to the question, “What is Abundant Life week all about?” is almost always, “It’s one of the happiest weeks at camp”.
Before I experienced Abundant Life week for myself last year, I had always wondered what made this program so special. Now I understand that what sets this week apart from the rest are the little joys the Abundant Life campers bring to us, like Mary Anne, who will forthrightly tell you when she thinks you are wonderful.
Abundant Life is a week at camp for adults with developmental disabilities, primarily in partnership with Angels’ Place in Metro Detroit. Many of our Abundant Life campers have been joining us for years now, and camp is a place they truly look forward to all year long. Camp offers a time to relax, a time to fellowship with old friends, and a time to learn new songs and skills. We give our Abundant Life campers the opportunity to do all of these things, but in return, they teach us vital lessons of patience, grace, and love, as if straight out of the Gospel. The Gospel is full of reversals, so it’s no surprise that while we are providing a week of ministry to our Abundant Life campers, they are actually ministering to us!
At worship, the campers were eager to share their testimonies and at the talent show, they proudly presented their acts. This keen enthusiasm to celebrate each other’s gifts is unparalleled by any other week at camp. Abundant Life may have been dubbed ‘one of the happiest weeks at camp’ because it allows us to step back and view even the smallest things in life as celebrations. This is Godly living. Psalm 139 tells us that we are fearfully and wonderfully made by God. God has discerned our existence with the utmost intention and because of that, we should rejoice.
Despite our level of ability, we are all made in Christ’s image. Once we can recognize this, like our Abundant Life campers already do, we are one step closer to making the world look a little more like the Kingdom of God.