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3300 River Road
Mount Bethel, PA 18343

(570) 897-6000

Christian retreat center for New Jersey and Pennsylvania marriage retreat, singles retreat, women's retreat and youth summer camp in Mount Bethel, Pennsylvania.

Tales of Tuscarora

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The Impact of Junior Week - Pastor Chris Priestaf


Chris Priestaff.jpg

Chris Priestaf

Lead Pastor

Mount Bethel Lutheran Brethren Church

Mount Bethel, PA

I am a pastor.  By default, that necessarily makes my kids “pastor’s kids.”  While the title is mildly unfortunate and significantly less than glamorous, it’s true. 

Sometimes titles bring assumptions.  For instance, class clowns should be funny, and artists should be able to draw, and plumbers should be able to . . . plumb.  Here’s one more: pastor’s kids should know Jesus.

I remember a number of years ago when my middle daughter was in 4th grade.  It was at the end of summer, the week before Labor Day to be exact.  My wife and I had been wondering if our kids understood what Christianity was all about.  Did they know about sin and grace?  Did they know the significance of the Gospel?  Did they get Jesus? 

So we decided to ask them, not fully knowing what we would get in return.  Our conversations began with our aforementioned middle daughter, at bedtime.  The dialogue ­– loosely paraphrased ­– went something like this, with me talking first:

“Can I ask you something?  Do you understand what mom and I are talking about when we read Bible stories at night and talk about Jesus?”

“I think so,” she said.

“When do you feel like you really began to understand it?”

“I don’t know.  Probably last summer.”  Her response was a bit sheepish, which caused me a bit of wonderment, but I gently and encouragingly continued the subtle interrogation. 

“What happened last summer?   Was there a specific time when it all made sense?”

“Yeah.  It was at Junior Week . . . at Tuscarora.  I don’t know why, or what happened, but it just seemed to click.  It was like it finally made sense.”

I was delighted at her answer.  I don’t know what parent wouldn’t be. But I also wanted to know why there was a bit of reluctance in her voice.  So I asked her about that, too. I’ll never forget her response.  She talked about how she felt like it should’ve made sense long before, when she was younger.  She felt like it should’ve made sense when she was younger because she was my daughter – a pastor’s daughter.

Sometimes titles bring assumptions.

But the story didn’t end there.  She continued by saying that part of her sheepishness was also a result of not wanting to hurt my feelings.  She believed, because sometimes titles bring assumptions, that a pastor’s daughter should learn about Jesus from her pastor father.  What we discovered that night in a wonderfully freeing way was that sometimes a pastor’s daughter learns about Jesus from a pastor’s friend, and that’s okay, too. The important thing is that she understood the Gospel.  The important thing is that she knew Jesus. 

As both a parent and a pastor, that’s my desire for all of my kids – whether biological or spiritual.  I want them to come to an understanding of the Truth.  I want them to know Jesus.  While I know my role in this is significant, I also know the radical difference a camp experience makes in this process.  I’ve seen it over and over again: Maybe it’s the music, maybe it’s the speaker, maybe it’s the small group sessions, maybe it’s the time with their counselors, maybe it’s the time when the lights are off and they stay up late just talking, but God always seems to work in powerful ways at camp.  And for so many of our kids, including my own, God always seems to work powerfully at Tuscarora.  I am so thankful for that.

There is only One who knows what the future holds for these kids, including my own.  There is only One who knows the directions their lives will take and the titles they will invariably assume.  But He’s the One I want my kids to know most.  It’s why we’ll continue to send our kids to camp again and again, year after year . . . that they might know Him. 

In the end, isn’t that what we all want? 

Regardless of what our titles might be.

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