Relevents: Jerome Wray
Jerome Wray, a youth counselor at Camp Swoneky, talks about his ministry through the sport of archery, the advice he gives other counselors, and the person who helps to empower his relationship with God.
I’ve been married to Amy for two years. As my life partner, she has had a profound effect on me. She strengthens my connection with God. Her faith in the Lord and how she treats people has helped me shape my own life. I’ve learned more about God’s love from her than from any other person.
Two scriptures I emulate are Colossians 3:17: “Whatever you do, in word or deed, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus and give thanks to God through Him,” and other one is Matthew 22: 37–39, where Jesus said, “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”
Working at Camp Swoneky helped me stay grounded during my time in college. Coming back to Swoneky every summer was a spiritual cleansing for me. My coworkers are my family. Our staff comes from Brazil, England, and every corner of the world! I always tell new counselors, “You may not see the seed you plant in a child’s life. But as long as you show them love and kindness, your week with them will enrich their lives. That seed is there and growing.” For nine years, I’ve been blessed to work at Camp Swoneky and see kids—those planted seeds—grow into success stories.
Since my youth, music has been an influence. I’ll listen to it while writing a sermon for children’s camp. It puts me in the right mindset. My father played drums in jazz bands. He played with the saxophonist from the funk band Tower of Power. I once met some of its members backstage. Today, I play drums, as my father did. To practice, I’ll come to work early at Camp Swoneky or leave late. I enjoy listening to Gospel music drummers, who have amazing techniques. And Christian hip–hop artists today are as talented as the artists I grew up with, but have a better, more positive message.
I’ve built important relationships through athletics. I have close friends from college with whom I play basketball. When we’re done, opportunities to share the Word arise. I also run an archery program called “His Pins.” Kids from the inner city who have only seen a bow and arrow in the movies are elated when they hit their target. The archery lessons also become biblical lessons. In medieval times, when archers missed their targets, it was called “sin.” When we miss our spiritual targets in life, we also commit sin. The students learn that “good form” helps them hit their targets, in archery and in their lives.
interview by Hugo Bravo