A couple of days ago I sat at the newly completed Cedar and Moss Cafe at Charis Camp and Conference Centre enjoying a rare moment of satisfaction in what has been an otherwise devastating year. Having a project like this completed caused me to reflect on the many wonderful people who have invested so much in this beautiful place over the years. In this moment of reflection I couldn't help but smile as I thought about a special moment I shared with Rev. Ewald Lieske as we walked around the camp. He was well over 100 and we were sharing stories and pausing as he took pictures with his smart phone from time to time. He smiled so much and he seemed so pleased as we spoke of things very close to our hearts, holding in common the knowledge that Charis had a special place in touching thousands of lives. Previously we had the great joy of celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the camp that he and Rev. A.G. Knopp started along with the help of many from their congregations. True pioneers, they cleared and constructed the genesis of what is now enjoyed by thousands each year. As we walked together that day I remember taking such great joy in watching him delight in what Charis Camp had become thanks to the legacy of many others who came after him to build onto and invest in the camp he had been so instrumental in starting. He spoke of how it had gone “far beyond what we imagined: just a place where families could come and camp together.” We talked about the Greek word for "grace" and how I had named my oldest daughter using the same name as the camp because of a word study in fourth year Greek class and how the word had become so meaningful to me. He told me of how he paged through a Greek lexicon and knew he had found the right name when he stopped at the word Charis. That poignant moment has become a treasure for me as I think about Rev. Ewald passing from this earth. He knew as we walked together that the contribution he and other brave and godly men and women had made at the start, had not been forgotten. He knew that as long as I was connected to Charis Camp, I would do my part to keep reminding those who enjoy the camp now of those who have made camp possible. We also agreed that of all the named and unnamed people that could be honored, none should ever be proclaimed louder than the name of the one who personified God's great grace to all mankind, the name of Jesus. I received a great gift when I had the chance to walk with Rev. Ewald around Charis camp that day and each person who has stepped foot in this beautiful place also receives a gift, thanks to the faith, bravery, energy and vision Rev. Ewald brought to the very beginning of this place we call "Grace".
Rev. Lieske's family has asked that instead of flowers a donation be made to Charis Camp in memory of him. If you would like to support Charis Camp through Ewald's memory please use the link below.