Taylor graduated from CIU with a Master of Arts in Intercultural Studies. He currently is the programs director at Camp Living Stones where he teaches students about the global mission of God.
After returning from a couple of years living and learning in North Africa, my wife and I came back to the States in order to spend five intentional years processing our experiences and seeking future direction. Unlike most that pursue graduate studies, I had no particular job or future experience in mind.
My primary goal in enrolling at CIU was to dig deeper into questions I already was asking and refine a theological foundation from which my family could serve, no matter what direction that may take us. CIU's emphasis on "Knowing Him and Making Him Known" has deeply impacted my approach, not only to my job context, but to all of life.
Camp Living Stones
Currently, I am serving as the program director at Camp Living Stones, which is a Christian outdoor recreation and adventure youth camp located near the Cherokee National Forest in the mountains of East Tennessee. As a camp, we offer one week, gospel-centered experiences designed to challenge students grades 6-12 to know and follow hard after Jesus Christ.
In an effort to nurture a mission-emphasis within the camp, I have the joy of focusing on three primary areas:
1) Teaching God's Global Purposes
I preach a gospel-centered sermon series that highlights
God’s global purposes of bringing glory to His name in all the earth for the eternal joy of all peoples.
An example of this would be our theme from a couple of years ago based on the Passover account in Exodus. God repeatedly tells Moses that the purpose of the plagues and the release of the people from Egypt was not just so that Israel might be saved. Rather, their salvation was meant to show the NATIONS that Yahweh is God. He alone can make a way when there is no way. One of the messages was titled "He Saves From Pain For The Fame Of His Name." The point of all these messages is to highlight the unmerited, saving-work of God through Christ that leads us to live in joyful response by bringing honor and fame to His name in all the earth.
2) Modeling Our Mission After Christ
I am responsible for creating a global mission educational activity for practical engagement.
We noticed that many youth groups that come through our camp have a very limited understanding of mission. Typically, students go on short-term trips to impoverished Latin American or Caribbean countries to provide some combination of clothing, toys, construction projects and VBS programs.
The result is that these students come away thinking that mission is limited to doing nice things for poor people. To claim to follow Christ denotes that the person is committed to the same passion that Christ modeled. For a person to say he is a Christian means that he is unabashedly pursuing the heart and mind of Christ. He has died to himself and now lives in Christ. Christ was on mission. His goal was NOT to simply save people as an end in itself. The bigger goal of saving people was for the sake of God receiving glory - to have a people for Himself from every tribe, tongue and language. Christ modeled perfect obedience to this mission.
Being a Christian and being on Mission are inextricably linked. As John Piper rightly says in Let the Nations Be Glad, “Mission exists because Worship does not.” The very essence of the Christian life is built around the assumption of pursuing the glory of God by spreading his fame throughout the earth. But, how do we do that?
THE RADIUS WORKSHOP is a 2.5 hour activity dedicated to answering this question in a practical and interactive way that students will understand. Students creatively and practically learn a biblical theology of mission.
For instance, one workshop had an emphasis on the need for Bible Translation as the springboard for church-planting.
We also have featured a Radius Workshop simulating the displacement of refugees from the moment they flee their home to the point of registering at a UN camp. We paid special attention to the unreached peoples being resettled to the U.S. and provided practical points of contact to various resettlement agencies with which churches could engage upon their return home.
This coming year, we will have an interactive workshop to understand the God-centered, mission-driven theme of the Bible to establish communities of worship in all people groups with a special emphasis on the least reached or T.H.U.M.B. people (Tribal, Hindu, Unreligious, Muslim, Buddhist). Various organizations that work with these people groups will be represented in our Dining Hall with literature and contact information for students to pursue.
3) Camp Living Stones Discipleship Program
Our Discipleship Program is an intensive 3-week experience during our summer season designed for 16-18 year old students who are interested in being challenged in the two facets of the Christian life: "To Know Him and To Make Him Known." Each summer, the program alternates between the two themes.
Everything flows from a life of intimate connection to God. So, we want to focus on ways TO KNOW HIM. We do this through habits of grace such as prayer, meditation, fasting, worship, silence, solitude and Bible study.
Acts 4:20 “For we cannot help but speak of the things we have seen and heard.”
As our hearts are saturated with the love of Christ and we grow to know God more and more, we will begin to proclaim his goodness to others. We will desire for others to enjoy the abundant life that God offers through Christ. An overflow of knowing God will be a heart TO MAKE HIM KNOWN to others who are yet to experience freedom from the slavery of sin. We do this by finding ways to proclaim the gospel in all the earth.
This program focuses on the gospel, a lifestyle of worship, the mission of God, global Christianity, Evangelism and finding a place in God's global story.