Believe it or not, for two weeks I was all the way across the country in Colorado in a little town called Manitou Springs where there is a big ministry by the name of Summit. Summit is a camp . . . sort-of; you get to spend lots of time with other people from around the country, sit in on sixty hours of lectures, fellowship with a group of like-minded people, go on little excursions around the beautiful Colorado Springs area, and eat some really good food prepared by an awesome staff.
For a little background on Summit Ministries itself, it was started in 1962 by David Noebel (a.k.a. Doc Noebel) when he was in his mid-twenties. He purchased the hotel that now houses up to two hundred or so students at a time and did many of the renovations himself. Doc Noebel stepped down from his position as president of Summit Ministries and handed over the reins to Dr. Jeff Myers about three years ago.
I attended the first session of the summer and we had twenty-five speakers ranging from Dr. Jeff Myers and Doc Noebel to Dr. Sean McDowell and John Stonestreet. Summit’s main purpose in bringing people from all over the U.S. and elsewhere (we had some from Mexico, Canada, South Sudan, and Iran) is to educate young people in worldview, not only the Christian worldview, but also many others. We covered areas such as theology, philosophy, economics, law, psychology, sociology, biology, etc. and issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, relativism, and many others. Some of our speakers included Christopher Yuan, a former homosexual and drug addict, Ryan Dobson, the son of James Dobson, founder of Focus on the Family, Warren Smith of World Magazine, Juan Valdez of Reasons for Hope, Mike Adams, a professor at UNC-Wilmington, Scott Klusendorf, Frank Turek, and many others. I really enjoyed getting to hear what these speakers had to say. Another thing I appreciated was that they each told us they weren’t telling us what to think, but how to think for ourselves. I didn’t agree with everything that was said, but in a way that was the point; to get me to think about what I personally believe. They also encouraged us to ask questions and they could be about anything. They had open forums for us to be able to ask our speakers questions and get an insight into their advice and experience.
Despite the total of sixty hours sitting in the beautiful classroom, students were still able to spend much time mingling, playing foosball, chess, checkers, card games, musical instruments, and other fun activities around the odd little hotel. A couple times each week, we had the opportunity to go to a park in Colorado Springs and play volleyball, ultimate Frisbee, soccer, or just spend some time relaxing. We also had the opportunity to visit some cool places in the area such as Garden of the Gods, Noah’s Ark Whitewater Rafting, rock climbing, Focus on the Family, Battlefield Colorado outdoor laser tag, or just climb some of the mountains near the campus like Red Mountain or the Incline.
One of my favorite parts about being at Summit was spending time in small groups. I was in a group with four other guys my age and our leader, Troy. One of the first things we did as a group was share each of our testimonies. It was cool to get a deeper glimpse into each other’s lives. We also were given the opportunity to share something that we didn’t agree with or something that really hit us from the day’s events. It was cool to be able to just think out loud with the group. We had some fun times and some serious times, but as a whole it helped each of us to grow closer to God. Troy had us write down goals for after we left Summit, so that we would be more inclined to work hard on them. He also took each of us out for one-on-one time to get to know us better. I was able to share my struggles and my triumphs with him and to get some godly advice and counsel.
On the last day of our time at Summit, we had a graduation ceremony celebrating all our hard work. We closed out with an ice cream party and spending time with the friends we had made along the way. If any of you are looking for an opportunity to strengthen your faith and learn how to defend it, I would most definitely recommend Summit to you. It’s well worth its weight in gold and will help you to be much more confident in your faith.