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Finding (Camp) Freedom

Issue 6


A year ago, Todd Goodlett was on the verge of losing everyone he loved. His drinking was sinking his relationships and he wasn’t sure where to turn or how to get help.

Then one cold January morning, Todd finally hit his lowest spot.

As he dried out in a detox facility, Todd cried out to God. He’d believed in God his whole life, and he’d even been involved in church for years, but he realized that night that he’d never really been following Him. He didn’t know what use he’d be to the Kingdom anymore, but he clung to the hope that God wasn’t done with him.

After praying, Todd closed his eyes and a bright light immediately covered him. He opened his eyes in shock, thinking someone had turned on the lights in his dark room, but all was normal. As soon as he closed his eyes again, the surprising flash returned and God filled Todd with certainty. He was loved. He was known. And God wasn’t finished with him yet.

“God has given me a second chance in life,” Todd realized. “From that day on, I’ve just been a totally different person. I know that God will get me through anything. That’s priceless.”


Months later, sitting in Southeast’s Crestwood Campus, Todd heard about the need for volunteers at Camp Freedom, a Summer camp for persons with intellectual, developmental, and/or physical disabilities. He had noticed the Shine Café—which is staffed by volunteers with Southeast’s Shine disabilities ministry—while he was at the Blankenbaker Campus for his Encounter group on Thursday nights, and he’d been praying about where God might have him serve.

His wife mentioned that Camp Freedom would be something he’d love, and before he knew it, Todd was standing at Country Lake Christian Retreat, waiting for the arrival of new friends.


For three days, Todd served with Dane, one of the campers and a senior at Louisville’s Pitt Academy who had never spent a night away from his family. They quickly learned there were differences they might never overcome—namely, that one of them loved UofL and the other was loyal to UK. Despite that glaring obstacle, the two became quick friends. They spent the next few days throwing axes, zip lining, swimming, fishing, paint balling, and talking about everything under the sun.

They also worshiped together regularly throughout Camp Freedom, and Todd loved how much Dane and his other new friends taught him about pure, joy-filled worship. He expected to teach them, but he returned home deeply changed and blessed.

Garett Wall, who is with the Shine Ministry, met Todd at camp. Garett recognized something special in Todd right away.

“I’m thankful for Todd’s desire to not only love people, but to help others in all areas of their lives. He knows life can bring some very difficult challenges. He’s eager to not only encourage others, but to also help meet them in their valleys. He has a zeal for loving people, and it’s fun to see how God is using him to bless our friends in the Shine Ministry,” Garett said.


This is a season of change for Todd. His sobriety and newly discovered joy in the Lord have made him evaluate everything he used to do. He gets up early in the morning and walks five miles, alone with his prayers and his dog. He’s started biking with other guys from his Bible study. He’s journeying through the Bible App with a co-worker. He begins and ends each day in prayer with his wife. His kids trust him again. He even signed up to go on a short-term mission trip with the Shine Ministry.

These changes also come with some loss. Many of the friends who used to drink with Todd late into the night have drifted away as his life has taken on a new direction. And after decades of coaching football, Todd decided to step away so he could give more of his time to his family, his church, and the leading of the Holy Spirit.


Even in these losses, God has provided. His family has formed new friendships full of shared experiences, encouragement, and faith. For the first time since they’ve been at Southeast, they helped with the Shine Fall Fest in September, since Todd wasn’t coaching football that Friday night.

Todd often wonders why he didn’t find this purpose in Christ until he was 49 years old, but he tries to hold on to the second chance he’s experiencing.

“I wish I’d done this a long time ago,” Todd reflected. “But you know, God has a plan. I feel like I’m on His journey now, and I just want to stay on that journey.”

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