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.
God values us more than we can measure
The busyness of the summer schedule has passed but God doesn’t recognize seasons so we are taking another breath as God continues to move our ministry forward. This summer has been one of joy, excitement, growth and challenges but through it all God has been moving in a mighty way. Following 5 week long camps, 5 weeks of preparation, 2850 miles on the road, a monetary investment in the kingdom of $8875 to cover camp registration fees, supplies, travel, meals and lodging, our team of 4 interns and myself ended the summer and are excited to share that we were part of celebrating 50 salvations, 25 water baptisms, 25 Holy Spirit baptisms and numerous life changing moments. The investment for our team of 5 to be part of God changing 50 lives for eternity and impacting over 500 other lives in immeasurable ways was minuscule compared to what God did.
In a feeble attempt to compile all that happened over the summer, let me give you some of the highlights. The biggest change for our ministry this year is that God provided us with 4 college interns for the entire summer. They labored, planned, played, spent endless hours creating set designs and preparing for ministry. It was a joy to see them moving in their giftedness as they served the Lord with excitement and enthusiasm. If you didn’t catch the intern’s posts a few months ago, take some time to read them and gain a better understanding of the diversity that God provided through them as individuals and then how he used each of them as part of the iRock team. Post from Caleb, Garth Pt1 & Pt2, Jake and a video created by Tanner.
Our team was instrumental in 2 week long day camps, both launched through our ministry, we were also part of staff at district camp and Camp Wild an inner city camp, and led recreation/special activities for Ability Tree camp. Each camp very different but highly valued by God as He worked in individual lives.
Ability Tree Camp was our newest addition to the summer schedule and was perhaps our greatest surprise as we watched how God used campers and staff alike to change perspective, gain clarity and truly experience Godly love. We have been invited back again next year to continue the work God has called us to at that special needs camp.
As we continue to move where God is leading, I’d like to ask that you pray with us as we plan and make preparations for the upcoming months. God is on the move and we are moving alongside as He guides each step we take with iRock Ministries.
Stephen Covey wrote in his book, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,
“Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.”
When a person receives encouragement they move forward in who God has called them to be and what He has called them to do. Hebrews 3:13 says,
“But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”
In my opinion there is nothing greater than the encouragement that comes from a child. It is pure and expressed from a heart that is learning to think and value others above themselves.
Teach the children in your lives to encourage someone today. Give them a post card that is addressed and stamped to a missionary that you or your church supports. Let them know that everyone struggles with temptation and sin, even teachers and pastors and missionaries. There are no “Super Christians” and everyone needs encouragement to live for God. Ask them to write a note of encouragement to the missionaries that these post cards have been addressed to. Encourage them to write a note of encouragement and sign only with “someone who cares” or “a friend in Christ” or something that lets them know someone is praying for them.
Option: If you are asking your children’s class to do this as a group, have them write the cards, collect them and have the church office add the postage and mail so that you can monitor what was written before mailing.
Today they could make a difference in someone’s life. Don’t miss giving this opportunity to a child!
What happens when you give over 600 volunteers, 35 churches and 6 community agencies the opportunity to serve their community as one? Well, homes get repaired, landscaping is completed, blood is donated, food banks are stocked, clothing is distributed, the elderly are appreciated and the love of Jesus is shown to an entire community. It’s my second year being part of Tappahannock Operation INASMUCH and to see so many people come together, crossing denominational lines, with one goal, to serve as Jesus served, gives us a glimpse of what it will be like in heaven one day. To see people come together to meet the needs of people exemplifies the goodness in humanity.
Each year brings new hope. Seeing the commitment of Gleta and Steve as they dedicate countless hours to reaching the children in Tappahannock with the love of Jesus is such a source of encouragement. Watching the kids as they give their time making crafts to bring joy to the elderly and seeing a community join forces as one demonstrates the spirit of unity in Christ.
As part of that day I was given the privilege of spending some time teaching the kids the importance of serving others. I encourage you to raise up your kids to serve others as Christ served us. Let Jesus be the everlasting example of how we should commit our lives to meeting the needs of others. Allow them to feed the hungry, give water to the thirsty, make new friends, give clothes to those in need, take care of the sick, and visit those imprisoned.
As it says in Matthew; “Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘I tell you the truth, INASMUCH as you did it for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did it for me.”