Thursday, April 24, 2008

    Reactions to "The Lord's Boot Camp"

    I posted recently about the NBC special "The Lord's Boot Camp," a documentary about a real boot camp for evangelical youth that prepares them to go out into the worldwide mission field to "save souls." I recommend viewing the documentary (produced by the same folks who brought us "Jesus Camp") even if, like me, this is not your particular brand of Christianity. The film follows three teenage girls from their daily lives back home to their time at the boot camp and finally their journey out into the mission field. Each teen's background and story are different and make for compelling viewing.

    I most identified with with Nicole, a girl who was sent to the camp by her mother, hoping that some exposure to Christianity might help her with her drug problem. Once she arrives at the camp, she quickly discovers that it's going to be hard work. The youth spend much of their day out in the heat, training physically, and being drilled on the basics of evangelical conservative Christianity and how to share it with others. Nicole is rebellious (like I might be if thrust into that situation) and her attitude gets her in trouble more than once with the adult leaders. But she does make it through boot camp and does accompany her team to Africa. There they find themselves working with orphans, washing their feet and helping them try on their first pair of shoes and socks. At one point, Nicole comments that she really isn't here to learn about God but she really likes being able to help the children. I can only hope that she eventually came to see that it was in the act of helping the children, and in the children themselves, that she was encountering God. As missionaries, they are fooling themselves if they think they are bringing God to these people. God is already there!

    As interesting as the documentary is the follow-up discussion that NBC did with a group of interfaith youth from a typical America high school after they viewed the doc together. The first part of their discussion is posted above. The rest can be found here.