What other term can describe our recent annual two-week European student training camp? We were once again tucked away in an idyllic setting, loved by adults and children alike, on the grounds of Continental Theological Seminary just outside of Brussels, Belgium.

Building strong Christian community, the kind one reads about in the New Testament, through studying, praying, eating, worshiping, working, crying and laughing all together seems to be by far the biggest and best result of our time together.

This summer, God’s presence in our group of approximately 90 people from at least 15 varied cultural backgrounds was very real to us. While we had excellent instruction in becoming spiritual friends with university students on our multiple campuses and received super insight into what it means to be and make disciples of Jesus, we also experienced deep emotional upheaval. Our friend, Joe Zickafoose, a brother and colleague in campus ministry in Scotland, quitted his earthly tent to take up everlasting residence with Christ. Joe’s abrupt death during the conference left many of us numb and reeling, especially since he was undergoing a cancer treatment that was supposed to give him at least a few more years of mortal life.

Two days before Joe’s earthly tenure expired, a passage of Scripture from the Psalms (25:10) brought the abiding peace we would need to cope with our loss. It says simply, “All the ways of the Lord are loving and faithful for those who keep the demands of his covenant.”. God really knows what He’s doing with the world and with us. Everything He does is motivated out of His magnificent love and faithfulness towards us. And there is nothing more reassuring and peace-giving for me. (Click here for a memorial video clip.)

Yes, Students for Christ-Europe’s annual training time was simply unforgettable both in what we gained and what we lost. In reality though, looking back and envisioning the future, all is gain, because we again had the opportunity to model and live the extraordinary Body of Christ in our part of the world! What a privilege; what a gift!