SummitCamp at Asbury Digs Into the Bigger Story
June 21, 2021
More than 60 high school students from around the United States came to Asbury University from June 14-18 for SummitCamp to hear from world-renowned Christian thought leaders and to gain a better understanding of how to apply their faith to their school, work and relationships.
Camper Preston Adams said SummitCamp allowed him to learn practical tools to live out Christianity in a world hostile to faith.
“It’s awesome,” Preston said. “There is so much truth. And it is so applicable to your life. There are not a lot of places that you can go to hear how you can apply the Bible to your life. Because to the world it’s just an old book that is outdated. And the community of so many Christians in one room feels like such a warm welcome.”
He said he is forming true friendships while on campus at Asbury that will impact his life for the better.
“It’s not often you can open your heart up to people in these small groups and really get at what’s on your mind and be with other believers who care, no matter what the problem or situation is that you’re facing,” Preston said. “It’s really hard whenever you go out to the real world. There are a lot of ideas and styles of life that don’t agree with what is in God’s word that are constantly being thrown at you, and if you don’t have the right community around you then you are going to fail. And I’ve experienced that too myself. It says in His word that we have to have strong community, because where I’m weak someone else is strong and where they’re weak I’m strong.”
Students heard from daily lineups of in-person speakers including John Stonestreet, president of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview and the daily voice of BreakPoint, the nationally syndicated commentary on culture founded by the late Chuck Colson. And they had a visit from Dr. Jeff Myers, president of Summit Ministries, renowned author and speaker, and expert on worldview training and youth leadership.
They enjoyed Asbury campus-wide scavenger hunts, yard games, movie nights and the Challenge Course all while experiencing authentic college campus life, small group discussions and visits from Asbury President Dr. Kevin Brown.
“I have been so encouraged to see students gathered together, wrestling with big ideas, thinking carefully about what it means to follow Jesus and be ‘salt and light’ in our present moment, and enjoying fellowship and community on our campus,” said Dr. Brown. “Through Summit Ministries, students are being challenged, encouraged and drawn deeper into community — and that is a beautiful picture of what we aspire toward at Asbury.”
Dr. Myers encouraged students to lean into that community and embrace the longstanding traditions at Asbury because they are still relevant to today’s culture.
“I loved my time at Asbury,” he said. “I see these young adults as being the hope of their generation, because like every young adult they struggle with a sense of life purpose, but they’re realizing that their hope can be found in Jesus. And that from there, they can go into literally any area of life and make a difference. It’s one of those things I love about Asbury, they have the mission focus. We recognize historically this place has sent out a lot of missionaries, but they also recognize there are missionaries going into business, going into media, and in every other area of life.”
Stonestreet challenged students with the question of “Where is the intersection of our faith and culture?” And he encouraged them that while the world feels extra dismissive of faith and traditional values, God chose them for this moment in His bigger Story.
“The God who created everything intentionally put you in this time and this place,” he said. “He intentionally wanted you to live at this moment. He intentionally did not put you in another time and place. God gives you things – talents and gifts – so you can turn around and bless others. It’s not just your gifts that determine your calling, it’s your time and place … We have a doozy of a cultural moment. That moment, as serious as it is, is still just a moment. But Christianity gives you a Story, the big Story of the universe. There are Truths that come from the Story, despite what is happening in the moment.”
And the same can apply for Christian higher education, he said, noting Asbury’s adherence to Truth.
“The perpetual pursuit of relevance is a fool’s game,” he said. “Trust the Story that the Lord is writing for the institution. Asbury also has a really strong capacity to connect Truth in relationship. We are a culture that treats people like human doings. Christian education uniquely can back up and say, ‘Well what is a human for? What’s our purpose?’ But also, what’s the purpose of nursing? Or engineering? Or pastoral work? There are lots of educational institutions that teach people what to do, but Christian education should be poised to answer the question of what are they for?”
Stonestreet charged students with four questions as they consider their futures: 1. What is good that I can protect and promote? 2. What is missing that I can innovate and contribute? 3. What is evil that we can stop? 4. What is broken that we can restore?
Stonestreet’s powerful words challenged students on campus, including one student who traveled to SummitCamp at Asbury all the way from Mexico after her parents heard about the week on Stonestreet’s podcast.
For Cailin McCoy, who traveled to Asbury with her family from Maryland, the week helped her gain confidence she previously lacked.
“I’ve always been scared to speak out about something I’m passionate about,” she said. “But I learned this week how to say something and stand up. And the friendships I’ve made — I’ve never had any friendships like this, it’s amazing.”
She said all of the speakers, including her father who serves on the board of Summit Ministries, made her feel prepared for her journey.
“One of the speakers said, ‘Don’t be a candle, be a wildfire’ and that really stuck out to me,” Cailin noted. “I’ve always struggled with the problem of people asking me if I’m a Christian, and I kind of back away because I don’t want to be judged. Then this week has helped me realize that I have a chance to make a difference and I can’t step back and be a candle and blow out.”
Learn more about SummitCamp.