Growth in friendship requires honesty. Every human heart desires intimacy, but we often shy away, fearing the exposure of our own flaws in proximity to another person. The simple truth is that we need the loving challenge of vulnerability with a trustworthy confidant: a friend! Fortunately, God demonstrates this friendly love to us through the gospel, exposing the truth of our sinful nature, redeeming us for new life through the sacrifice of Christ, then challenging us to growth by continued spiritual candor before Him and close God-centered friendships that He provides. God honored us with such a friend in each other (Stephen Frerichs and Tristan Baylock). Our friendship was forged, nurtured and furthered through the ministry of New Life Camp and most importantly exhorted us in growth toward our present and most vital investment in the local church at Providence.
Throughout middle school and into high school, events at New Life Camp connected us socially and spiritually, allowing our friendship to grow. The regular exchange of personal successes and failures fostered deep camaraderie in the context of New Life Storm basketball games and Summer Camp sessions alike. Adversity, whether in the form of a losing season or particularly taxing week of summer, proved the perfect conduit for refreshment in the gospel, as God gave us clarity of our need for Him. The community of fellow believers spurred us on as we sought to follow Christ together. Competition on the basketball court and counseling campers revealed both our necessary dependence on grace, as well as unique opportunities to reflect the grace we received to others.
As we transitioned to college, our connection to the local church grew increasingly important. Through involvement with a small group, our community continued to expand. Honest friendships with other men in the church body strengthened us through seasons of triumph and defeat. Growth in this new, independent phase of life required spiritual veracity to hold each other accountable amid constant opportunities to stray. God sanctifies the hearts of His people as we allow His Word to test and examine us. In friendship, in the context of the local church, He graciously sharpens us through the conviction and encouragement of our spiritual brothers and sisters (Proverbs 27:17)! Ultimately, friendship refines us by exposure of our faults before another person, who lovingly walks with us in mutual pursuit of God, our true and faithful Friend.
– Stephen Frerichs and Tristan Baylock, former campers & counselors