How many summers did you spend in the Canyon?
I recently went to two LLYC reunions where I was asked this same question. To be honest, I’m not really sure. I believe that I started some time around 8th grade either before or after (79-80), through the summer between my senior year in high school and college (85). I do know this; I spent ALL my years at Echo Valley….other than trash runs to Singing Hills while on work crew.
What have you been up to since leaving the Canyon?
I’ve taken a long and winding road since leaving the Canyon….pretty much leaving God there. I went to Alabama on a football scholarship, met my wife Jenny, moved her back to Corpus Christi, began a building business with my cousin and former LLYCer Bart Braselton, had two awesome and beautiful kids, began building homes on my own….and after 12 years of chasing “the Dream”, God conveniently interrupted my life.
See, I can count on two hands how many times I had either prayed or gone to church in the 12 years since leaving the Canyon. But there I was, 30 years old, two kids, a beautiful wife who loved me and I was more concerned with the American Dream, being a good republican, driving the biggest truck, having the lowest golf handicap, the biggest newest house…and a locker with my name on it in my very own country club (yes…this really was a ‘thing’, to my wife’s dismay)…than I was with knowing our Creator who had constantly been pursuing me over the years. I was simply using His name when convenient and ignoring Him the rest of the time….when I didn’t need Him. But when my world started to crumble, my source of strength (ME) seemed to falter, and when my castle made of sand was being washed out to sea…I humbly looked to the only place…the only One…who loved me enough to die for me. I repented.
God met me at the end of myself….reminding me of truths I had long forgotten. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? I will never leave you nor forsake you. And like the prodigal son, willing to eat with the pigs…I found a God willing to throw me a party, restore my faith, restore my family and make sense of my life and complete my love and passions….all of which I had checked at the altars of materialism and consumerism. Besides healing me, my marriage and relationships….He reawakened my passion for youth and youth ministry and I began serving in my church. I did this for 10 years.
Over six years ago, my wife and I sold the house, said goodbye to friends and family, and came to Austin (literally as missionaries) to start a new church with our best friends Brandon and Jen Hatmaker. My official title is the Pastor of Operations and Finance for Austin New Church, however I get the opportunity to share life in community, helping to make other folks into missionaries to their culture, serve the least and those in the margins…and literally ‘love my neighbors’ while ‘serving my city’.
Do you have a favorite camp memory?
There are so many….the same memories that kept me coming back year after year as a camper, had me back at camp on work crew, then serving as a counselor in Cabin 3….have faded over the years. The real reason I connect with old LLYCers is to rekindle relationships and be reminded of the memories. I remember the people more than I do any specific memories.
Of course there are the Dances, Blue Hole, Spit Pit, Sugar Shack, BOUNTY HUNTERS, Frog Sullivan, Round Up, Early Morning Radio Shows, Work Crew, the Cowboys movie nights on the Tennis Courts, catching armadillos and putting them in girls cabins, running from (as a camper) and then being on Bush Patrol.
What do you miss most about your summers at camp?
Camp holds a special place in my heart. Hundreds of young people getting together, from all over the state, for two weeks, to be in a special place and to draw closer to God. Many didn’t come for that reason, but for many of us, God met us there.
How does LLYC still impact your life today?
I would say the greatest impact that LLYC has had on my life today is that it gave me a tremendous baseline with God and thrust me into ministry. It showed me that we all come from different places, with different life experiences and that many of us have scattered throughout the state and world in some capacity. That God can use the most broken of us to become vessels of his goodness. That as disciples of Jesus, we are called to carry and be Jesus incarnate to a world that is hurting. That we are called to bring light into the darkness, to live the Gospel (which literally means to be “good news”) to those in the margins. And this is how I will live out my days.
What’s the significance of your tattoo? (Obviously I added this one, since it’s in the pic and people always ask)
Even as a pastor, I have become more keenly aware of the restorative nature of God. There are so many broken families, broken people, the world has broken systems and God is constantly and lovingly restoring his creation to the way that He intended. A place where there will be no injustice, no tears, no death and no pain.
Revelation tells us that He who is seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new.” And to “write this down, for these words are true.” This coupled with a verse in Isaiah that tells us, “Those from among you will rebuild the ancient ruins; You will raise up the age-old foundations; And you will be called the repairer of the breach, The restorer of the streets in which to dwell.” So I did…write them down…. on my arm.
The tattoo is a reminder to be an active participant….to help “Repair the Breach and Restore the Street”…and to “Seek Justice”.
May the Lord bless and keep you, may the Lord make his face shine upon you, and be gracious to you, and may our Lord lift up His countenance upon you, and give you peace.
Pictured: Tray Pruet, Eric Goldreyer, Kevin “Ox” Vincent & Bart Braselton
Cabin 3: Cliff Hendicks, Mickey McClain, Tray Pruet and Kevin “Ox” Vincent and a bunch of boys.
Pictured: Jenny Pruet, Benton Pruet, Taylor Kate Pruet & Tray Pruet (not on mission trip)
Family photo overlooking Port au Prince Haiti while on mission trip.