Camping in the Everglades

I went camping in the Florida Everglades—once. I was in my teens and part of an active Royal Ambassador church group. You must be a Southern Baptist and of a certain age to remember the RA missions program for boys. It was sort of an alternative to scouting for some of us. The name is taken from 2 Corinthians 5:20 where Paul proclaims we are “ambassadors for Christ” as we go about the mission of reconciliation. We went camping in the Everglades National Park as preparation for a cross-country camping trip we would be taking to Washington D.C. that August to the RA National Congress.

Alligators, snakes, and mosquitoes were all on my mind as we set up our pup tents in a circle around the campfire. We had driven out to a point where our leaders parked their cars and the truck.  We hiked through mucky high grass and through some trees and overgrown bushes. We eventually arrived at a clearing that was very dry and flat.  As the darkness settled in, we crawled into our tents, zipped up our sleeping bags and tried to remember that the Lord was with us. When the sun came up, we all got up. Then we heard our leader tell us to be quiet and get very still. The men were examining the whole camp site. Then the announcement was made, no snakes in sight, but we had been visited in the night by at least one bobcat who had explored our garbage pile and everything else in the camp. I did not know I was supposed to worry about bobcats in the Everglades. After camping in the Everglades, we knew we could face just about anything together. 

The RA Pledge took on new meaning for me during that trip: As a Royal Ambassador, I will do my best: to become a well-informed, responsible follower of Christ; to have a Christ-like concern for all people; to learn how to carry the message of Christ around the world; to work with others in sharing Christ; and to keep myself clean and healthy in mind and body. These are still good words to live by and a reminder of the Kingdom adventure we are on together, representing Christ our King.  

Keep healthy. Pray mightily. Enjoy your life today. Share the journey. And let’s experience the love and power of God together. 

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