By Del Duduit
Jason Meade is a tough guy.
He was a United States Marine for eight years and saw action in Iraq in 2005. He works on a S.W.A.T Team for the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office and is on a U.S. Marshall task force. He loves catching bad guys and putting them in jail.
He’s a combination of John Wayne, Chuck Norris, and Sylvester Stallone.
But this tough guy was scared out of his wits at the thought of being the evangelist at the Rubyville Community Church’s annual youth group church camp last week.
He has been the pastor of Rosedale Free Will Baptist Church just north of Columbus for the past three years. However, this was his first time to be at a church camp since he was a camper himself in 1987. It was during that week he decided to follow Christ.
“Several days before this camp, I started getting really, really nervous,” Jason told me after lunch Thursday at the Nipgen Campgrounds, where I also worked as the photographer. Like Jason, this was also my first time to work camp – but I wasn’t scared. I was armed with my trusty Nikon.
“I’ve never preached to this many young kids before, so I was scared –I admit it,” he said. He was concerned he would not be able to relate to the youngsters. But that was not the case at all.
The kids – and most adults – were captivated by his drug-bust stories and other ones pertaining to his job in law enforcement. He always found a way to turn them into a life lesson in his down-to-earth way. He went into great detail about some of his exploits and had each person on the edge of the pew. But he always preached the only way to Heaven is by accepting Jesus Christ as your savior. Nothing else mattered.
From the moment he arrived at the campground in Ross County, Ohio, he was like family. He was particularly touched one night when he announced he had to leave the camp after service for the night to go on an assignment. He vowed to return the next day. But before he departed, everyone gathered around him and prayed for his safety.
“That just blew me away,” he said. “I’ve never had that feeling before. These kids really loved me. After that – I felt such a spirit of God around me and around this camp.”
After that night, he told his wife, Abby, they had just adopted about 85 more kids to go along with the two they already had. Just like that, Ryann and Deacon had dozens of more siblings.
“I was just overwhelmed after they did that,” he said. “I was nervous about being away from my own kids that long – but when they prayed for me — I just can’t describe the feeling. They’ll never know what that meant to me.”
Jason was a fantastic youth camp evangelist. He jumped in and played games and made sure he knew every camper by name. He took turns during meals to sit with different groups so he could get to know each one. He left the camp with more than 150 new friends. But even more valuable, he departed for home rejuvenated and refreshed.
“I came here to try to lift their spirits and be an encouragement,” he said. “But they really did so much more for me. This group of kids is special to me.”
He treasures the friendships he found while at camp last week, but even more, he fell in love with the sense of worship he experienced.
“It was all over me,” he said. “These kids really know how to praise God, and I needed to see that. I needed to see this generation lift their hands to the King of King and Lord of Lords.”
Jason came to camp with a goal to inspire the kids — which he did. But he left with so much more. He didn’t realize it, but the camp was just what Jason needed for himself.
“Be not ye, therefore, like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of before ye ask him.” Matthew 6:8 KJV
It’s hard to admit it at times, but God does know what He is doing. It is natural to have fear of the future because we are human. But after an event takes place and the end result is apparent, we always come to the conclusion — the Lord is in control. Then we realize we never should have doubted Him in the first place. But we do.
“This camp did wonders for me and got me motivated,” Jason said.
He left a big impression on a lot of people. His energy and devotion to God are his most important characteristics. But he also taught patriotism and respect for law enforcement. There are a lot of memories campers and workers will have of Jason. All are good.
I’m glad I got to know and become friends with him too. It’s always a comfort to have a man of God on your side, especially one who packs heat.
But I will always have one fond memory of Jason. It was something he said during a message. It was so profound and honest. He had just returned to camp from work where he said to the audience during a sermon with a proud smile, “We kicked the crap out of the bad guys today.” The crowd cheered.
Come to think of it, that is exactly what we need to do to the devil.
When he tries to persuade us and get us out of our game, we just need to use our weapon — the Word of God.
“Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you,” James 4:7 KJV
The Jason Meade translation – “Kick the crap out of the bad guys.”
We all have demons to face, and the best way to handle them is head-on with the Lord as our protector. There is no other way. Let God lead, and don’t back down. Kick the devil once God has dealth with him. Let the Lord fight your fights, but claim the victory through Him as your own.
Are there times when you need to stand up to the forces of evil? Do you let God be your enforcer? Let me know your thoughts.