Joy and Thanksgiving
Chris Maddox; President, Camp Manager, Dean of MAD Week
It's getting cold outside. The Camp is locked up and the lights are off. We missed the 2020 Season due to COVID-19 and as we come into November, it's hard to imagine what we have to be thankful for. Our world is in upheaval over the coming Presidential Election, we still don’t know what is yet to come with Coronavirus, we have friends and family who are struggling like never before due to lay-offs, pay cuts or other forms of income loss. Churches and schools are struggling to remain open and keep their people safe. Amidst all of the chaos, amidst all the unfortunate circumstances, it feels difficult to find joy and to be thankful.
But we still have a great deal to be thankful for. Recently, our church did a sermon series on the Sermon on the Mount. I was blessed to be able to preach about the Beatitudes. One of the things I found most encouraging about this section of Jesus’ sermon is the blessings and rewards that are promised for those who are faithful and righteous and who desire to be like Him.
The greatest thing we have to be thankful for that no one in politics, no one in the community, no one at your job and certainly not Satan, can take from you is your assurance of Salvation. We are so blessed to have received God’s grace and love. And that is certainly something to be thankful for and to find joy about. But before we get too far, or make things too simplified, let's examine what “joyousness” is and “thankfulness” is.
“Joy” is often confused with “Happiness” which is an emotion that is experienced when the brain releases endorphins which gives you an excited feeling. This commonly happens when something good happens or when something satisfying occurs. But as we have all likely experienced, happiness can be fleeting. Moments where we have good news to share, or we have circumstances we are pleased with, unfortunately those moments don’t have a very long life. It is so important to understand that “happiness” is not the end all be all to measure your life by. If you don’t always feel happy, that doesn’t mean that your life is miserable. Happiness is fleeting. But “Joy” is more.
“Joy” is defined in pretty poor terminology as many emotions and “feelings” are. We have a very difficult time explaining the components that comprise our “feelings” because these emotions occur in the limbic part of our brain which is chemical rushes and endorphin floods or the reverse. Brian chemistry is not the subject of this article but it is a very interesting factor to study as you hope to understand how we, as God’s creation, function.
The reason we typically link “Joy” and “Happiness” is that the “feelings” are similar. But joy can be felt even when times are difficult. Joy can be present when circumstances are depressing. The reason “Joy” is able to stand up against unfortunate situations that challenge our emotions and even our faith, is that joy is better located with a “feeling” of contentment.
Contentment is all about attitude. It is finding peace in the storm, pease in the calm even. Joy is having peace about whatever this world throws at you. Joy is peaceful assurance that God is in control of what is out of control, He is all powerful especially when we are powerless, God is mighty and tends to us because we are weak, He loves us even when we feel unlovable and He keeps His promises which are numerous.
During this time, it is easy to begin worrying about how we are going to house, feed or clothe our family.
Matthew 6:31-34 says:
31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
When the Israelites came out of Egypt, God provided manna that fell from heaven, food they could be nourished from. He also prolonged the durability of their clothing so that the shoes on their feet and the clothes on their backs did not need replacing as children aged and grew. God provided what was needed. He didn’t provide mansions and swimming pools and large cars. But He took care of their needs in miraculous ways.
Everyone is worried about the health of their loved ones who might be affected by COVID-19, and that is a very real thing to be concerned for. It is natural to be concerned for the health and well being of those we care about. While it is human to worry, we have to remember what God has promised.
8 "The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."
The Lord is with us, in the crisis, in the chaos to come, in the hardships that may or may not come to fruition. God is with us. He will not fail us or give up on us. This should give us bold confidence that helps us have peace and contentment and therefore JOY in these difficult times. God provides and God protects.
Let’s face it, it has been a difficult year. Over the past few years, organizations, businesses and even churches have set 2020 in their sights for big goals of successes and milestones. Sadly, many hopes were dashed due to the Coronavirus and the economic shutdown of our world. For DCSC, we had to make the unprecedented decision to cancel our camp season and wait out the storm. Churches were forced to go virtual which, let’s face it, isn’t always easy for the church volunteers, the preacher or the congregation. And certainly, church doesn’t feel the same when you’re just watching the computer screen. But what is there to do about it? Afterall, it is out of our control. But more than that, what do we possibly have to be thankful for in 2020?
2020 will go down in history as one of the worst years in human history. Without a doubt, people will be talking about it with their grandkids like our grandparents do the Great Depression or World War 2. But just because this year has had its struggles and downfalls, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t provide us things to be thankful for.
We could list all of the things that we as individuals had to sacrifice in order to muddle through. But what about the things we gained. Let’s list a few:
More time with family.
More time to complete the Honey-Do List
More time to pray and study God’s Word
Less opportunities for our world to influence our families
Less money spent dining out and more money spent supporting farmers
More communities rallying together to help the needy
Churches positioned to provide aid to the hurting
The Church learning that the Kingdom isn’t four walls and a roof
The list could continue on. So many intangible blessings. So much to be thankful for.
Yes, the pandemic has brought challenges and hardships. For some it has brought poverty, depression, death and has done irreparable harm. But even in all of the chaos and hurt, we have peace, and hope because of God’s love.
Isaiah 54:10 says:
10 "For the mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, But My lovingkindness will not be removed from you, And My covenant of peace will not be shaken," Says the LORD who has compassion on you.
No matter what happens, God’s love will not be taken away from us and his promise of peace will not be taken. No matter who wins our Presidential Election, no matter how many more restrictions are imposed or removed in regards to COVID-19, no matter how long children continue to do virtual school and no matter how long it takes for Jesus to return to call His children, God is faithful to His people.
This November, take time to reflect on what God has blessed you with this year and how God has blessed you through Coronavirus. God has been faithful to so many people in our world during this chaos. His faithfulness allows us to find peace and therefore joy, which is something we should be thankful for.
If you are willing to share how God has kept His promises to you we would love for you to share your blessings in the comments section below.
My Life at DCSC
Chris Maddox; President, Camp Manager, Dean of MAD Week
When I was a born, my parents were still young. They had me when they were both 20 years old and were still practically Newly Weds. My mom grew up in the churches on the shore and grew up attending camp at DCSC. She may not have gone every year, but she knew it would be a place for her children to go and grow up. My dad did not grow up in the church but came to know Christ by way of dating my mom and they attended church and camp together as they desired to raise me in a positive environment.
I remember being at the camp when I was about two or three years old. Frank Goehringer was the lifeguard and I fell into the pool, the shallow end near the steps. Frank helped pull me out of the pool and made sure I was alright.
A few years later I was old enough to go to First Timer’s Week and I was eager but nervous at the same time. I enjoyed my first day or two but went home sick. I can still remember some of my friends who were there with me. I remember our Dorm Dad who got “Skunk Bunk” and was forever seated in my memory as Skunk Bunk Matt. Frank Goehringer was the Dean that week and he agreed to let me go home after I snuck out of the dorm that night and ran to the kitchen to beg to call my mom. I didn’t come back to camp until two years later.
When I was in third grade, my sister was in the hospital, a lot. Her special needs made her the focus of a great deal of my family’s focus and worry. We had tremendous support that year from church members here on Delmarva. The kind of support I would long for if I were in the same position as my then twenty-eight-year-old parents. As a child I didn’t fully understand or have a profound appreciation for the love and support we received but that year my mom and dad encouraged me to return to camp for Beginner week because someone had offered to pay for me to go to camp and our close friend Greg Breisch was going to be on staff that week and Frank Goehringer was going to be the Dean. I agreed to go, and I had a blast. That week changed my life forever in some significant ways.
I had such a great time. I made so many friends. I enjoyed every minute of the week. I couldn’t tell you anything about what the theme was, the lessons were or the skits that were performed. But I was happy, and I didn’t want it to end. I also remember there was a lady who was serving in the kitchen that week who had been going to the Lewes Church but had not given her life to Christ. But during that week, she made the decision to be baptized in the pool at the camp. I had seen baptisms before, at church and I had a basic understanding of what it was for when they happened. But the week following camp, I remember telling my aunt, Valerie, that I wanted to be baptized. I remember being nervous that my mom and dad would not let me because I was only eight at the time. And of course, they were happy and trepidations about me getting baptized at such a young age. Their main concern was knowing that I was making the choice for the right reasons. Our preacher talked to me, one of our Elders talked with me, Greg Breisch, our youth minister, talked with me. And they all came to the decision that I understood, and I was ready to make the decision to be baptized. So, on August 5th, 1998, at the Christian Church of Seaford, I was immersed by my father.
Now, I wouldn’t say the goal of the staff at Beginner Week was to scare us into getting baptized. I don’t even think the idea would have come up at the time if it hadn’t been for the lady from the kitchen making her decision during the camp week. But regardless, he decision and her baptism, ignited questions that I needed answers to and a desire to do likewise. And every year after that, I went to camp, except for 2005 and 2012. And I regret missing those years to this day.
My dad began working with camp weeks around 1998 or 1999. He had been so impacted by the miracles God was working in my sister’s life, that he had decided to get involved in Kingdom work as a preacher and began serving at the camp. I remember being a camp kid with my dad. I would be at Sr. High Week or Jr. High Week. And I would participate but I could also, just go play. I would ride my bike, or play carpet ball, or hang out with the lifeguard. I loved those years going to my own week of camp, often Deaned by Frank Goehringer or hanging out with older campers when my dad was staffing a week of camp.
My favorite week to be at though was MAD Week. I remember the very first week MAD Week with an old overhead projector, a CD Player with a crude microphone setup to amplify the sound and Eddie Cade as Jesus. The productions and the technology got progressively more impressive as I grew up. And when I became a camper of the week in 7th grade or so, I remember wanting to be involved with helping to manage the chaos of the production. I was a Stage Manager. I looked forward to my role every year. I looked forward to working alongside the directors and the campers. Not just learning lines or getting into costume but being responsible for helping pull it all together.
There were some years where I channeled my inner thespian. One of the hallmarks of MAD Week is that there were never enough males to round out all the male roles on the stage. And I remember in 2005, the Dean who had been running MAD Week for about eight years at that point, was retiring from Deaning. It was unthinkable. What was going to change? How would it be different? Would it still be as much fun or as impactful?
Well a great deal changed the following year. It was a transitional period for MAD Week. Chris Vickio and Joseph Goehringer Deaned together and completely changed the course of MAD Week productions for the foreseeable future. Prior to 2006, we had done comedic variety shows with a theme, musical numbers and a candlelight song that was our signature. And they were great, and fun and meaningful. But 2006 “Life in Death” was a full length, feature play that told the life story of William Featherston the author of “My Jesus, I Love Thee”. So much production, stage sets, costumes, microphones, musical numbers. And I was asked to be the Stage Manager for this huge show. I loved it. My two best friends and I ran the backstage like it was our destiny to do so.
The following year was my final year as a camper. I was a graduated high school student, and this was my final opportunity to be Stage Manager. I remember being at a wedding for some church members, and the Director for MAD Week was also there. I figured I would take the opportunity to solidify my position as Stage Manager. But she had other ideas. She needed me for a specific role she had in mind for that year’s production. I was not interested but I made an agreement with her that if she would help get me a spot on staff as a junior counselor, I would concede for this year and perform as an actor. I was unaware at the time that I would be typecast as Satan for the Godfather themed play. I was also unaware at the time that my future wife was attending MAD Week as a camper for the first time.
The following year I was on staff and fulfilled my role as Stage Director. I spent the next several years, prioritizing MAD Week above most else regarding time off from work or other family events. Until, 2012, the first year as a staff member, that I had to miss camp because of a job I had while in college. The following year, Frank Goehringer asked me if I would be interested in taking the reins and Deaning MAD Week moving forward. So as of 2014, I am now the Dean of MAD Week. We have done everything in our ability to enhance the production and performance, but we have focused more on the spiritual development aspects of our week. We’ve had some ups and downs and we’ve acquired some scars along the way. But it has been and continues to be an amazing week of camp that we hope will continue to grow and prosper as a beneficial part of the DCSC program.
MAD Week is no small undertaking. It is a unique week of camp compared to every other week at DCSC. Our students may be the same you would see at Jr. high or Sr. high Weeks. But the purpose of the week is different and is intense. We come together as a staff to teach and nurture our students to show them how they can use their God gifted talents and abilities to share the message of the Gospel and the love of Jesus Christ in a unique and impactful way. We appreciate your prayers and support as the staff of MAD Week continues to improve our program and pour into the lives of the youth of Delmarva.
As for my involvement with the Board of Directors, I was fortunate to move back to Maryland in 2014 and immediately started attending the quarterly Board Meetings. When the previous Vice-President stepped down one particular November, I volunteered to take his place. Ever since, it has been my goal to enhance the communication and intentional planning of the Executive Committee with the Board at large and its supporting churches.
In 2018, my wife and I decided to provide additional support to the Camp by moving our lives closer to the camp and its supporting churches. We have been serving in ministry with Old Paths Church of Christ. We have been available to meet with church leaderships, youth and their families and able to be an available resource for Deans and volunteers at the camp during the Summer. During my time with the Board of Directors, we have been able to organize a great group of Deans, get several committees started on some much needed work, and begin some projects to improve the campgrounds and help restore attendance and confidence in our camp program.
My wife and I are expecting our first child this coming Spring and we are exciting to bring them to camp in 2021 to begin their life as a camp kid. Camp is a wonderful place to grow up and while we don’t have ziplines and hiking trails, we do have great facilities that are being maintained and upgraded as we are able and we have a great group of people leading each week as Deans and Staff minister to the campers and families that come to Delmarva Christian Service Camp.
Testimonies from Friends of DCSC.