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Reflecting on Salkehatchie Summer Service

by Spencer Dobbins

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Spencer has been attending the Huntersville Salkehatchie camp since 2005. He and his parents and two brothers are members of McMannen United Methodist Church in Durham, NC. The article is the transcript of a sermon that Spencer gave at his church's Youth Sunday in 2008. The sermon was delivered one week after a fellow youth group member lost her life in a car accident.

Growing With God

Everyone grows up, simple as that. I recently turned 18 and I’m still thinking what’s so important other than the number changes. I get to vote and buy a lottery ticket which I bought my first one on Saturday with the fire department but that’s a different story. As life goes on, you wonder if you are doing anything with your life, either with family, friends or work. But the one question you do not ask is the most important: are you growing or have you grown with God? And I know one person who is not is this room that doesn’t have to ask herself that question. That person is Nicole Ann Sager.

One of the best memories I have of her, is when she dropped my digital camera in the river. It was two years ago at the retreat, and we were climbing up the waterfall. I asked her to hold on to it for me, since I was getting a lot closer to the water than her and also she was a little more responsible than me. Ten minutes or so later, someone tells me to come back because Nicole dropped my camera. I get there and it is sitting in 6 to 8 feet of water. If I remember correctly, she was laughing and telling me it could have been her or the camera so the camera went swimming. Luckily Connor was already devising a plan to get it out and it is still working today.

"The only way to know is by seeing how many people were touched by your presence. The friendships you make in youth, church, and Salkehatchie can show it. God would give us a progress report showing how much we have grown, but that is not how it is. You won’t know how much you’ve grown until you are told by a friend or teacher."

Spencer Dobbins

First Corinthians, Chapter 12 verses 4-6 say “There are different kinds of gifts but the same Spirit. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working but the same God works all of them in all men.” I go to high school part-time, volunteer at the fire department full-time and make it to youth group and church. Does all that work show how much I have grown with God? Does standing up here speaking, show how much? What can show the growth, maybe asking our friends, or the preacher or the youth director? How about your contributions to the church? Maybe the youth singing, leading worship, going on mission trips, dancing at Pilgrimage, or just coming to youth group every Sunday? The only way to know is by seeing how many people were touched by your presence. The friendships you make in youth, church, and Salkehatchie can show it. God would give us a progress report showing how much we have grown, but that is not how it is. You won’t know how much you’ve grown until you are told by a friend or teacher.

Spencer and Nicole

Nicole sang like an angel, and you should have heard us Friday night practicing, man did we need her bad. She excelled in everything she tried including loving God and her youth group. Our youth group grew together in God, because of her. She brought so many different views and opinions on topics that we couldn’t even imagine. She could laugh, all the time it seemed whenever she wasn’t smiling, we have memories of her that are just plain funny. Whenever she walked into the room, the mood changed from somber and sad to cheery and passing around hugs. She knew the “five second hug rule”, and broke it as good as anyone else. Actually she might have been the main reason why that rule was made up because her hugs and how good and long they were.

It’s tough, knowing that she left us, but it helps that she saw us at youth group before she did. This week has been, one of the longest weeks for our youth group, and we made it because we stayed together, we talked on the phone for all hours of the night, we called each other to make sure we are doing alright, we sent text messages every morning saying be strong, we can do this. We made it, and I know the next week and the next will be hard, but we know that we have our church, youth group, family and friends to make it through. That’s what I call, growing with God.