by Jerrie Miller
When was the last time nature spoke to you? As a child, whether I was looking at clouds, listening to birds, smelling wildflowers or tasting juicy berries picked fresh from a mulberry tree, nature delighted me and whispered of a powerful Creator who loved me. But along life’s way I got so busy with family and ministry, I seldom found time to listen anymore.
That’s why I appreciated the opportunity to participate this summer in the first-ever Salvation Army session of the American Wilderness Leadership School (AWLS).
Twenty-six individuals from three territories met in Jackson Hole, Wyo., to learn, grow and hear from God.
For the past 10 years, Safari Club International (SCI) Foundation and the Hunter Legacy Fund have sponsored Salvationists’ participation in SCI’s unique AWLS outdoor training experience.
Each year participants have returned home excited and energized to share what they learned with others in their ministry. Whether wilderness survival, archery, fly-tying or the North American Model of Wildlife Conservation, they’ve learned things they can apply in their work with youth.
While this year’s all-Salvationist session brought the excitement of previous years, participants enjoyed the bonus of being with others who share the same perspective about creation and God.
When the moon set over the snow-capped purple mountain tops one early morning, we were in awe of the details the Creator painted on the horizon.
When we watched a bumblebee, frozen by the morning frost, come to life as he thawed, we were reminded of the detail and care the great Preserver puts into so small a creature.
When a camper struggled to hit the archery target, several people remarked how it reminded them that we often miss the mark set for us by God.
As we gathered around a campfire to recap the week and share our highlights, one Salvationist said, “I like nature. I really like nature. After 40 years, I find out how awesome nature is. Who knew?”
Who knew, indeed. God did, of course, and centuries ago He designed a place so unique and special one educator labeled it God’s Gazillion Dollar Classroom. The best news of all? This was not a one-time wonder; SCI has committed to repeating the experience next year.
Dates for the Salvation Army AWLS session are tentatively set for August 20-27, 2019.
For more information, contact [email protected] usc.salvationarmy.org