“After this, Jesus crossed over to the far side of the Sea of Galilee, also known as the Sea of Tiberias. A huge crowd kept following him wherever he went, because they saw his miraculous signs as he healed the sick. Then Jesus climbed a hill and sat down with his disciples around him. (It was nearly time for the Jewish Passover celebration.) Jesus soon saw a huge crowd of people coming to look for him. Turning to Philip, he asked, “Where can we buy bread to feed all these people?” He was testing Philip, for he already knew what he was going to do. Philip replied, “Even if we worked for months, we wouldn’t have enough money to feed them!” Then Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up. “There’s a young boy here with five barley loaves and two fish. But what good is that with this huge crowd?”
Tell everyone to sit down,” Jesus said. So they all sat down on the grassy slopes. (The men alone numbered about 5,000.) Then Jesus took the loaves, gave thanks to God, and distributed them to the people. Afterward he did the same with the fish. And they all ate as much as they wanted. After everyone was full, Jesus told his disciples, “Now gather the leftovers, so that nothing is wasted.” So they picked up the pieces and filled twelve baskets with scraps left by the people who had eaten from the five barley loaves. When the people saw him do this miraculous sign, they exclaimed, “Surely, he is the Prophet we have been expecting!” When Jesus saw that they were ready to force him to be their king, he slipped away into the hills by himself.” -John 6:1-15 (NLT)
I’ve always really loved this story, for what it teaches us about the small offerings that we bring to Jesus, and the ways that He works BIG things through them, but also for what it has always spoken to me about the way Jesus values children. The disciples see the little boy’s lunch and think, “What good could that possibly do?” And I think that this often the way we respond to children. “You’re too young,” “Wait until you’re older,” “Children are the future,” these are common tropes in our society that suggest that the value of a child lies in what they will become, not in who they are now.
He sees a little boy as the answer to his problem, just as he is, with just what he has. While others dismiss him and see his contribution as unworthy, Jesus sees possibility, and works miracles through him. Camp is a magical realm in which children’s potential and value is the sole focus. Everything, everything, that happens at camp is with kids in mind. It is a world devoted to them, their strengths, their voices, their laughter, their needs.
We at Knox Camps believe in the value of children. We believe that small children are capable of BIG faith. And we believe that Jesus does too! “Let the little children come to me,” He says, “and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God be longs to such as these” (Mark 10:14). Here’s to children, to their wonderful, creative, brilliant, talented, and funny selves, and to seeing the way the Lord does BIG things through them.
By Andi Nolson – Director of Knox Camps