Our oldest son Cody has attended Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp in Story City, Iowa, since he was in the second grade. It was always the highlight of his summer. Our family is very active in our congregation, Emanuel Lutheran in Dayton, Iowa, and Cody was confirmed right on schedule.
Cody received his driver's permit in October of his freshman year. He attends school about 8 miles from our home. Three days after he finally (after several attempts) received his permit, tragedy occurred. Breaking about 100 household rules, Cody decided to drive friends home after school, traveling on gravel roads. In less than 10 minutes after school was dismissed, Cody had flipped the van, injuring five friends and killing one.
Needless to say, the effects of this were far-reaching, including Cody's hospitalization for severe depression the following March. After this, Cody decided he no longer believed in God and would no longer attend church services with the family.
I told Cody that I wanted him to attend Riverside with "an open heart and an open mind." If he still didn't believe in God after that, I wouldn't make him attend church in the fall. Then I started praying. I also warned his camp counselors about his mind-set, and they all started praying as well. I activated my church's prayer chain and even posted a call for prayers on my Facebook page.
All week while he was at camp, I expected a phone call telling me to come pick up my very angry and disruptive son. The call never came. When I arrived at the cabin to pick him up, I was greeted with a huge smile, hug and an enthusiastic "I believe in God."
Cody told me that the last night there, they had an "open mic" time at chapel. He volunteered to tell his story. At that moment, he clearly felt the love of God and the burden of the accidental death of his friend lifted from him. He told me how the staff and his cabinmates spent the night with him, praying and talking.
Riverside Lutheran Bible Camp is truly a place of miracles, and I vow to send all three of my children there every summer, no matter what sacrifice we must make financially.
The Lord is present at Riverside in a mighty way, and I am eternally grateful for the role the camp played in giving me back my oldest child.
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