Favorite camp food?

Breakfast in general. Scrambled eggs, bacon, pancakes, potatoes, and breakfast burritos — you can start the day off right!

How did you decide to go on KDSM?

I felt like I was supposed to go on a Cru summer mission, but I didn’t really want to. My discipler convinced me to apply, saying if God wanted me home, then He would make me stay home. So I applied for KDSM right before IndyCC (winter conference) on a whim, simply because it was the only one with a focus on kids. While attending the KDSM seminar at IndyCC, I could feel God in that room telling me I was going to go, regardless of my fears.

What did you fear?

I worried about disappointing my parents, not making money over the summer, breaking my apartment lease early, and entering the unknown. A month after applying, I was accepted, and a couple of weeks later, I decided to just go. Apart from accepting Christ, going to KD was the best decision I ever made. Admittedly, though, I wasn’t convinced until a few days into project!

What did you learn by raising support?

My experience probably isn’t typical. I was terrified to send out letters asking people for money, but God provided in a big way. I raised 40% of my total in the first week and had raised more than what I needed after a month. God brought me support through people I wouldn’t have expected, and it was so cool to see how God was using and transforming other people’s lives along with my own. The most important thing I learned was that God can do big things — and you can trust Him to do those big things — but a lot of those things happen when you take the first step of faith.

Why invest a summer serving at a camp?

Working as a camp counselor equipped me for teaching where, on a daily basis, I am interacting with kids and functioning as a member of a team. I’ve learned the necessity of being conscious of what I am doing and communicating. Do children and other people see the love of Christ in my actions? I have realized I can show people Christ, even in a public school system, just by the way I live my life and interact with them. In order to show the unconditional love that demonstrates Christ’s love, I must draw close to the Spirit and consciously rely on Him.

Both as a counselor and as a student teacher, the call to this sacrificial love is challenging! However, as we learned at our first camp meeting, “The days are long, but the weeks are short.” My friends and I had to learn to treat every day like day No. 1, serving as a source of constant love for our children. This applies not only to camp, but also to school. If I am clearly over a day at school, the kids will follow my lead and won’t be excited about anything. I can’t do explicit ministry, but camp prepared me to engage in relational ministry.

How did discipleship impact and equip you?

Initially, I was hesitant about group discipleship, but God used Chelsea, Cassidy, and Bria to help me conquer my fear of trusting people. He taught me what it means to be in community and to walk in the light. Living at home for student teaching, I don’t have the community I had at school or King’s Domain. However, I have learned to initiate with other people. Instead of sitting in the background and waiting for things to happen, I have had to go for it!

Talk to us about community.

Going to KD, I expected to grow in my relationship with God, but never in my wildest dreams could I have imagined the beautiful friendships and community that have resulted. As an introvert, being surrounded by other college students 24/7 in the midst of a hectic schedule was hard at first, but God used them to change me.

I experienced real love as we ministered together, participated in crazy team-building exercises, and dove into each other’s lives in discipleship. God used the men and women on KDSM to show me that, despite my past of being hurt repeatedly, I could trust people. Leaving them was one of the hardest things I have ever done.

How have you seen yourself change because of KDSM?

Being around people all the time pushed me to be more outgoing and challenged me to consider the words I was speaking (speaking life vs. tearing down). In ministry, I was challenged to share my faith at the University of Cincinnati. While the thought of approaching strangers still increases my heart rate, actually being in the conversation became so much easier, and I am more confident in talking to people about my faith. From jumping off a 28-foot telephone pole to sharing the gospel to loving on children from rough home lives, God stretched me in so many ways for which I am forever grateful.

How has your relationship with God changed?

For so long, I have longed for a deeper relationship with Him, and that change is finally happening, though I’m far from perfect. My prayer life has been incredibly transformed. Pastor Dave (from Antioch) began preaching on prayer during my last few weeks of KDSM, and since returning home, I have been given numerous opportunities to be a prayer warrior — both at school and at home.

What’s your summer summary?

My experience was challenging, enthralling, and life-changing. I had the greatest six weeks of my life at King’s Domain partnering with phenomenal college students and staff from across the country to see the kingdom of God advance! We showed love to children who had never before received such love. We shared the gospel with children who may have never before heard of Jesus as our Savior. My relationship with God was transformed and deepened, and I learned life-changing ministry skills to apply in my mission field at home. I made beautiful friendships with wonderful people.

And I had experiences that you can have only once in a lifetime — jumping from a tree house into a pond, starting dance parties at a fireworks display (and having spiritual conversations in the process), and dancing and praying in a downpour. I was able to truly let go and live life the way God intended: with joy, community, love, and Him.

Any last words?

You can see God’s fingerprints on everything at King’s Domain — and not just because you’re in His creation every day. God is using King’s Domain for amazing things, and I am so thankful for the opportunity to have been a part of it for six weeks. (By the way, if you’re coming, do everything you can to stay for the whole summer. I so wish God had planned for me to stay for all 10 weeks.)

Mandi Sangston

School

Illinois State University

Graduation year

Fall 2014

Major

Early Childhood Education