When God was opening doors for ministry possibilities, He introduced me to Joe and Jen Butler, founders of Ability Tree. Over the next 12 months God paved the way for our ministry to partner with theirs during Ability Camp, designed for adults 18 and up with physical and/or intellectual disabilities. As a team we had no idea what to expect and when we volunteered to do whatever was needed we were asked to oversee organized recreation and special activities. Organized recreation seemed pretty straight forward, but what was involved in special activities? Come to find out we were in charge of “FUN”. God had placed us exactly where our team was gifted. Between a campfire and s’mores, bingo night, a talent show, Olympic themed party and a movie night, we provided the atmosphere for these special campers to experience the freedom to enjoy a week of activities, social interaction, and the opportunity to connect with God. Check out the videos posted on Vimeo Ability Tree to see more of what took place that week as we spent time with each other and with Jesus.
There are many things that I can share with you about this year’s summer internship with iRock ministries, but for the benefit of the reader I will “briefly” summarize. To start off I will begin by stating that before diving headfirst into the vigorous, previously planned schedule, I was spiritually, physically and mentally prepared to give all I had to whatever God had in store. Being a recent graduate from Regent University majoring in Biblical and Theological studies, I was able to reflect what I was taught by my professors to all the kids, counselors and adults that I encountered. By all means I was still nervous to stand before kids teaching and preaching the gospel, but I felt in my soul that this year was going to be different than the previous year. The first reason is that instead of two interns in the house, there were now four. Not only did this mean less food to enjoy and more testosterone, this meant that each person was responsible for their own weight and for helping to lessen the weight if another person was slacking or just was not able due to illness and work. In my case there was a lot of work to take on, including occasional trips to the Ernst farm stacking hay and straw to earn gas money. Then there was Cedar Ridge Adventures which gave me the opportunity to reach more kids by facilitating and encouraging them to conquer their fears and to truly value themselves and other people. The second reason is that on our agenda 5 camps were planned and the last reason is that God was going to stretch me in areas that I prayed I could grow.
This growth included a lot of trust and faith, not in me, in God. The trust that God was going to put me in a place and surround me with people that could allow that to happen. He did just that and more. God gave me confidence to help lead a worship team, to teach kids and answer their thought provoking questions such as, “Can God stop time and where in the Bible does God’s word say so?” or “What happens if someone dies, like your Dad and you do not know if your Dad is in heaven or hell?” He gave me the strength when I was weak and the knowledge to answer the questions. This summer God moved in my life to tell me that the future is not worth worrying about. I am 24 years old, single, still wondering where I can use the gifts that God has given. But if I worry too much about the future I would miss that God is and has been using me and my gifts all along in the present. God may be giving you a chance to reach someone now but you could be too worried about God’s future plan for your life to realize where He is calling you in the present. You do not need a stage to do what God has called you to do. All you need is an open heart and a willingness to do God’s work. You may not think that your church or ministry is big enough to reach many, but it is not about the size of your ministry or the number of people you reach. If God can use four interns to reach kids in the small places such as Hagerstown and Clear Spring, MD, God can use you to reach someone in need of the love of Christ.
By Caleb Joshua Lambert (Golden Child)
I came to join the IRock Ministry team on the week of the July the 11th. From then to present date it has been a great journey. Terry asked each intern to take sometime out of our schedule to let the world know what we have experienced. In truth, there is too much to list in a single blog post. However, I’ll do my best to highlight a couple things that have been super impactful for me personally thus far.
My second week here at IRock, we served at the Potomac District Camp. For those that do not know it is affiliated with the Assembly of God denomination. Yet, it was very welcoming to a little Mennonite like myself. The camp staff was awesome group of people to work alongside in every sense of the phrase. They welcomed the IRock team right in and had such a passion of sharing the Lord with the campers. It was a week full of worship, teaching, and play. Its was clear to see in the camper’s day to day activities regardless if that was walking into the Chapel for service and out to the fields to play.
Witnessing the kids press inasmuch as they did to seek the Lord’s face for their personal lives was incredible. The camp had different ways for the campers to engage with the Lord; at the Response Stations or at the Altar Calls to just name a couple. The camp as a whole had this understanding that the Lord was going to be there to speak with these campers. And OOooh did He. Many of kids felt prompted of the Holy Spirit to share what He was speaking into their hearts. The verse in Matthew that talks of youngsters uttering praise was clear to see happening before my very eyes. Something I think we should all witness and experience in our walk of faith.
I’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.
Are 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.
If 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.