Christian Extinction

moses_joshuaI’ve recently been able to share at a few churches a growing concern over our youngest generation of children. Are our children just a generation away from Christian extinction?

Barna research indicates nearly half of all Americans who accept Jesus Christ as their savior do so before reaching the age of 13 (43%), and that two out of three born again Christians (64%) made that commitment to Christ before their 18th birthday.

That is great news but let’s take that a step further.

Barna’s research also shows that 84% of those children that accept Jesus as their savior turn away from their faith before they graduate high school. Some reports are saying as high as 94%. To me this is alarming. We are not passing on a robust Christian faith and an accompanying commitment to the church.

If we love as Jesus loved and show children Christ by investing in their lives, the likelihood of “Christian extinction” diminishes. We may never see the influence we have on these kids while we’re here on earth, but you can never tell what seeds God has used you to plant in the lives of children.

joshua milk_honeyAre we handing down our faith like Moses handed it down to Joshua or are we a Joshua that dropped the ball and “After that whole generation had been gathered to their ancestors, another generation grew up who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel.” Are we leaving the spiritual development of our kids to chance or are we being strategic and intentional?

We are the Joshua Generation! Who are we handing down our faith to and who are we mentoring? It’s time we take a closer look at what we might have to do differently to reach this generation for Christ. What might we have to change and how might we have to approach our young people so that they don’t grow up “neither knowing the Lord or what he had done for Israel”?

If you would like for me to speak to your congregation and encourage them in the task God has set before them, feel free to contact me. I would love to come share what God has laid on my heart for this generation of children.

High Ropes Adventure

karate kidIf you were asked to climb up a 24’ telephone pole, stand upright on the top and then jump off, how would you respond? Well, that indeed was a question that I had to answer on this particular weekend. (And yes, that is me perched on the top of the pole like Karate Kid) We were looking for adventure and true to its meaning we had both fun and excitement interlaced with some running, swinging, climbing, jumping, and soaring. We pushed ourselves, tested our limits and literally went out on the proverbial limb.

But it went far deeper than that. We learned more about who we are and who we can become personally and in our walk with Jesus. We learned about ourselves in significant and transforming ways and the importance of unity and trust within a community of believers.

Ephesians 4:13-16 sums up our focus for the weekend, until we come to such unity in our faith and knowledge of God’s Son that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord, measuring up to the full stature of Christ. Then we will no longer be like children, forever changing our minds about what we believe because someone has told us something different or because someone has cleverly lied to us and made the lie sound like the truth. Instead, we will hold to the truth in love, becoming more and more in every way like Christ, who is the head of his body, the church. Under his direction, the whole body is fitted together perfectly. As each part does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”

People may not jump at the opportunity to spend time team building but without working together how do we ever expect to spread the news of who Christ is and how He can change our lives. The weekend left us with great memories, created lasting bonds, and ultimately will help make us better people and Christ followers.

I encourage you to take your team to Cedar Ridge Adventures. The team there is amazing and will share their faith as they help your team find the unity that is needed to mature and grow in the Lord.

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Our fearless group

Beetrice, the honey bee, visits Frederick

beetriceThis was a day destined to ‘bee’ life changing. What begins as a conversation between Beetrice, the honey bee, and Dr. Stinger, ends with the salvation of seven children. Who is Dr. Stinger and was he actually talking to a honey bee? Dr. Stinger is a ‘bee’ therapist and Beetrice is a honey bee that thinks she needs to be a lightning bug so that her father would ‘bee’ proud of her. One day as she was collecting pollen she heard some kids saying, Matthew 5:16  “In the same way let your light shine before others so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

Being a honey bee she interpreted that to say, that when she used her light to SHINE on how GOOD SHE WORKED then they would give HONEY to her FATHER who lived at the HIVE INN. She says she heard Matthew say that at exactly 5:16. Or,  she thought that’s what time it was.

You can see why Beetrice felt like she needed to ‘bee’ a lightning bug, she had no light to shine but thanks to the kids she soon realized that her light wasn’t a physical light but rather her light shines when she does something that helps someone else know Jesus.

This might be a silly approach to the idea of sharing our faith walk with others, but it was an approach that led seven children to making a decision to invite Jesus into their lives and there is no silliness too great when that is the result.

Spirit led and Spirit filled camp

PrayerGod has been intentional in the way He has been leading me and how I then lead kids camp. Over the past few years He has moved me from being intensely focused on the details of running camp to being intensely focused on providing opportunity for kids to connect with God in a real and personal way. Being obedient to that leading has truly opened the doors for the Holy Spirit to work in the lives of everyone at camp.

Three years ago our week of district camp piloted a different way of allowing kids to respond to God through several response areas that appealed to not only the audible learners but also to the visual, and tactile learners. We saw amazing things happening as kids were now open to hearing God’s voice in different ways. Each year we continued to educate both the kids and chaperones in the benefits of response areas and again the Holy Spirit touched hearts and lives.

Last year God impressed on me to take on a different role than I had previously filled and become more actively involved in the altar time as the Holy Spirit allowed me to be used to speak His truth and help lead the kids into the throne room of God. I’ve been in awe at what God was doing and I couldn’t fathom how it could get any better, but it did and there was no question that the Holy Spirit was in charge of what was happening each and every day.

If you want to be touched by the openness of the kids at camp just take a look at one of our times of worship during the week of camp.

A bit on the Wildside!!

campwild4Is kids camp ever anything less than wild? Camp generally allows kids to operate a bit on the wild side and we, which included myself, Caleb and Tanner, were about to get a taste of inner city kids on the wild side. Adrian Black, youth leader at The Hope Center in Hagerstown was the master mind and we were there to give him a hand. From the moment we arrived there was activity; bounds of it as the kids were playing basketball, ping pong, video games and make shift volleyball.

Teens and young adults from local churches had rallied together to both guide and maintain some semblance of order. I was actually surprised at how well they did and how positively the kids responded to the rules that were shared at the very beginning of the week.

So let’s throw that together with small group time, a service to talk about Jesus, lunch, a short ride to the outdoor campgrounds and an afternoon of letting loose playing in the creek, ziplining, snacks and activities to learn more about the country of Africa and you have a full day of Camp Wild.

I suspect the staff was more tired at the end of the day than the kids but they came back each day to do it all over again. Not only did we get a glimpse into the lives of these kids but for many this was the first time they had ever been exposed to the person of Jesus and what He offers. What a privilege to share the love of Jesus and the hope that He freely gives. We are trusting that seeds have been planted and these kids will return for the weekly ministry of Wildside Youth Ministries.

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NEW in 2016! Leadership Camp

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Leadership Experience for 5th – 7th Graders

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, no it’s a kid flying down a zip line!! Look mom, no hands!! Harnesses, helmets, ropes and heights. We provide the safety, you provide the courage. When faced with difficulties, peer pressure and possible danger do you back down or do you have the courage to face those fears? As adults we may still be struggling with that question. Wouldn’t it be great if someone had come into our lives to help us figure that out when we were kids?

Several years ago God gave me a desire to provide a training camp for kids that would help them develop their leadership potential. But it wasn’t enough to develop the skills, He wanted me to help kids see how they could use those skills to influence people and guide them to a relationship with Jesus.

Leadership is fun, exciting, challenging and sometimes frustrating but it’s always worth it when you have had a hand in leading someone to Jesus. It is my heart to empower kids to use their God-given gifts and talents, couple them with skills that can be learned and then send them out to impact the kingdom of God.

This past summer, with the help of Valley Forge student intern Rebecca Chambers, that desire became a reality. Rebecca and I worked together to take the concept and bring it to reality. We started looking for a location that offered both low and high ropes courses as well as games/initiatives and challenge courses that would emphasize team work and leadership skills. Cedar Ridge Adventures in Williamsport Maryland offered all of the elements that we were looking for in an adventure camp. After 8 months of planning and collaborating we have scheduled our first camp for April 8-10, 2016 and are accepting applications from students currently in 5th – 7th grade.

I may not know fully what God has in store for this camp but I do know that He will speak into the lives of kids and provide them with the power and courage they need to complete the work which He has started until all come to the knowledge of His saving grace. Keep the camp staff and those that will be attending in your prayers as we anticipate God doing great things in staff and campers alike.

If you’d like more information on the camp take a look through the iRock Adventures Handbook and check out our page containing even more Resources and Forms

 

Meet the Interns

caleb_tannerThis summer our ministry had two amazing additions to the team. We were joined by Caleb and Tanner, both from Harrisonburg Virginia. Within two weeks following high school graduation, Tanner joined us with his guitar, bike, and a suitcase in tow. As we acclimated to an additional person in the house we were reminded of the energy a teenager brings. Peace and quiet were no more although having the house filled with guitar music and conversations navigating life’s emotional and social challenges provided insight to the issues our young people are facing every day. Caleb joined us a week later. Perhaps a bit more reserved he also found his guitar to be a source of comfort and reflection as he too navigated thoughts of the future as he ended his junior year of college and joined us. Two different personalities yet they balanced each other.
After identifying the gifts and talents that each intern brought to the summer ministry they were immediately thrust into the summer camp mode. I was impressed at their focus and ability to reach into the hearts of the kids and live out their faith walk as an example of Jesus’s love. The value they brought to the kingdom work can not be measured. They have changed me, our ministry and have set into motion plans for expanding internship opportunities for more students in the upcoming years. Keep Caleb and Tanner in your prayers as they continue their studies and as they continue to influence the direction of future internships as a vital part of our ministry.

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2016 Trip Being Planned to Mormon Community

In October 2014, I attended a conference that gathered together Missionaries that have made the United States their mission field. During that time I met two couples from Utah who were reaching out to the mormon community. As we were talking I felt compelled to ask if they would like for me to seek God and try to bring together a team of people to come and pour some time and energy into their newly forming church. mega-sports-camp-huddleAs we talked further, I discovered the enormous task God had given them. Their church is located in Utah County, the cultural hub of the Mormon religion.  It is where Brigham Young University is, it’s where the Missionary Training Center is– where the Latter Day Saints church trains and sends out its 56,000 missionaries worldwide– and this is where Mormon couples come from all over the country to raise their families in a Mormon environment that underpins what they believe & what they are teaching their families.

Orem is 97% mormon and here are missionaries J.D. and Angela right in the middle. In the same way that Jesus “became flesh and dwelt among us.” (John 1:14) the Elleman’s believe that it takes more than just telling people about the love of God, it takes getting close enough to people to show them God’s love in tangible ways.

MegaSportsCampLogoOur ministry would love to come alongside of them and show that same message of Jesus and His love through the use of MEGA Sports Camp but we need your involvement and commitment to reaching the children in Utah. We are looking for 15-20 people, ages 10+, to serve alongside the local church to coordinate and operate sports camp while building relationships with the kids.

Follow this link to take you to a page with more detail and information on how you can become part of this team. We are believing God to form the perfect team to show Jesus to this community.

Homes of Hope Heads to Minnesota

iRock Minnesota 2012_467In 2012, we took a team of 9 for our first visit to White Earth AG and Rice Lake Area Fellowship on the White Earth Chippewa Reservation. There we met Pastor Tim and Tammy Brown and instantly fell in love with them and the people they loved. Our purpose in going was to show the love of Jesus in real and practical ways through a camp for the kids. We prayed, played, served and made new friends along the way.

3 years later, we have decided to return to help with a much needed renovation project to one of the church buildings that is currently being used to distribute food and clothing to families in need. While renovations are being made, part of the team will be conducting a day camp for the kids.

The smiling faces alone are reason enough to pack your bags and come along with the team. We will be leaving on July 4th and returning on the 11th. If you are interested in joining us and would like more detail about the trip you can visit our Mission trip page or contact iRock Ministries, Missionary Terry Williams. Applications and the initial payment for the trip are due April 24, 2015. Act now to assure your spot on the team.

Inviting the neighborhood kids to camp

2015 trips planned

2015 trips

Trips planned for 2015.

CONTACT US for availability BEFORE promoting to your team!

  1. Clear Spring Maryland, Camp Wannahockalugie; June 21-27
  2. White Earth Chippewa Reservation, Minnesota, Renovations and Kids Camp; July 4-11
  3. Church Plant in Lehi (Named after a mormon prophet) Utah, Kids Sports Camp; July 26 – August 2

Through Family Mission Trips we provide an opportunity for kids (Ages 10-15) to experience the mission field in their own backyard. Through collaborative efforts, we pair up a mission field here in the United States with a team of kids and adults that desire to reach the lost. Kids and adults can then work together giving people hope through the message of Jesus’s love and forgiveness.

We believe that by putting kids on the mission field at an early age we can help instill in them a heart of compassion for others. We also believe that kids can begin to recognize their potential for reaching those who don’t know Jesus through the use of their unique gifts and talents.

Kolton, a Lakota indian, experienced the gospel message through a kid mission team and as a result made a decision to follow Jesus. As he asked forgiveness he wept and shared that he had never been told that someone loved him. The kids on this team shared the love of Jesus with Kolton and was instrumental in bringing him to Jesus.

If you would like to have a Family mission team visit your ministry field or would like more information on how you can be part of a family mission team feel free to contact us so that we can partner together to bring the gospel to children everywhere.

Serve South Dakota team to Rosebud Reservation
No Limitz team to Keyser West Virginia


Wendy Toone; New Life Assembly of God Farmville VA
 – “Thank you for your leadership and planning for our trip to Rosebud. It was great and eye opening. It was such a blessing to be able to work with these children and share Christ and His love with them. I have been telling everyone about my trip since I have gotten back home. I hope I will be able to do another trip in the future. Again, thank you for all that you did; it was much appreciated. Thank you for all the sacrifices you made for this trip. You are truly inspiring.”

Debbie Gillispie; Faith Community Church, Mt. Airy MD – ONE SEED can start a garden. ONE SMILE can life a spirit. ONE CANDLE can light a room. ONE CONVERSATION can start a friendship. ONE PERSON can make all the difference. “Thank you for making a way for us to spread the seed of the gospel”