Wednesday, June 11, 2008

risk, fail, are still loved

June 1-6 Michi-Lu-Ca

Stories are important! We are all built on stories and we come with stories and we make stories. We share our stories with others along the way. At Camp Michi-Lu-Ca in Northern eastern Michigan, the staff shares their stories as well. A common theme in each story is the sense of God’s call in their being at camp for the summer. A call from God is sometimes hard to describe. Most camp staff has been encouraged to apply by another friend, a former counselor, a pastor, or sometimes the director himself. I have heard the camp staff talk about the feeling they get when they are at camp and the sense of ministry being done to and for the children.
The model of Christian community that Michi-Lu-Ca strives for is a care for each camper’s physical health, emotional health, and spiritual health. This mission helps create the camp environment that lets you risk, fail, and fall, and still be loved. At camp, people love you for just being you: a person of God!
I was inspired by so many wonderful people at Michi-Lu-Ca and realized that even though it was a different camp it was God’s same creation, they are different people, but the same relationships exists among them, and that there are many manifestations but the same, one God! As we talked about life, I hear the effect that camp has had on these young people as they continue to seek God in their lives and listen for God’s call as they leave high school, college, or sometimes even their career. They come to camp. They share their stories, and they help so many others see God in the midst of these stories calling each of us by name. I pray that we hear God call us in our own stories!

From Adam Berndt, Outdoor Ministry Ambassador (OMA)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

God's love changes people

June 1-6 Michi-Lu-Ca

Staff training was always my favorite. Camp for the counselors was a description I would often associate with those two weeks spent preparing for the summer, building a healthy community with the staff, and caring for God’s creation in anticipation of a full summer. My time at Michi-Lu-Ca and Stony Lake, two beautiful camps of Living Waters Ministry in northern and western Michigan respectively, was filled with the familiar, the new, and the love of God.
The familiar at Michi-Lu-Ca, among other things, was love. I found a group of young people full of fear and uncertainty, facing new relationships and transition, and unsure of what the summer, let alone the next year, holds in store for them. I stood in the midst of this tactile emotion, as I had so many times in the past, and saw love overtake the fear and uncertainty. I saw love become the foundation to new relationships and fill the staff with hope for the summer as well as their year and life beyond. Camp remains a place that changes people by God’s love.
"Interdigitize" was a new term and brilliant concept that I was gifted with at Michi-Lu-Ca. Interdigitizing happens when we hold hands. We interlock out fingers to show how other peoples strengths (represented by our fingers) cover our weaknesses (represented by the space between our fingers) and vice versa. This exemplifies the body of Christ in which we all bring something different in order to make up one body.
That is what I experience my first week at Michi-Lu-Ca. In the camping world, each camp is unique in special ways but each camp is also on one mission in one body: To go our and share the word through Christian community, love.

From Adam Berndt, Outdoor Ministry Ambassador (OMA)

Monday, June 09, 2008

"do not worry"

These are worrisome times. People have been feeling the crunch of food and gas prices all over the world. The UN recently reported that the world needs to double food production by 2030. As I talk to people here in Argentina, they talk about food items that have doubled in price over the last couple years, as well as costs such as bus fare.

On top of rising food prices, the last 3 months in Argentina there has been a conflict between the government and farmers: In objection to increased export taxes, farmers have suspended their shipments of grains and have set road blocks which have caused food shortages and prices to rise. In a year when international food prices are high, people are frustrated that Argentina is missing an opportunity. The article points out that because of the conflict, Argentine farmers have missed US$2.3 billion in soy, wheat, corn and sunflower seed sales. The road blocks have caused bus companies to cancel services and milk trucks to pour out their milk on the side of the road. Attempts at dialogue between the government and the farmers so far have failed, which is making for more frustration across the country. Many frustrations and worries are also fueled my memories of the economic crisis of 2001 in Argentina. In the stories of people and the general climate, you can feel the uncertainty, insecurity, anxiety and worry in the air.

In the midst of this deep anxiety heard in everyday encounters and on the pages of newspapers, I prepared my sermon for the week, and the Gospel text was Matthew 6:24-34. The words of Jesus “do not worry,” jumped off the page with glaring audacity. Jesus must have known how hard these words would be to hear, since he repeats them three times. Often the gospel-good news message in the text is the hardest to hear. Jesus goes on to say that God “knows that you need all these things.” This is reinforces by the text in Isaiah which provides the imagery of a mother nursing her child to remind us that God does not forget us. In fact, we are tattooed on the palms of God’s hands. In these uncertain times, we will have our share of worries. What we can count on is that in the midst of these worries and increasingly uncertain times, is that Jesus’ audacious words "do not worry," will confront us with radical grace, and remind us that the God who made us has not forgotten about us. May these words transform our worries into striving, to “strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness,” to strive for a kingdom where there is no worry.

youth in mission

another summer of Youth in Mission programs at and out from LSTC has begun!
stay tuned for reports from our "Serving Christ in the World" immersion program, Beyond Belief testimonies and words from our Outdoor Ministry Ambassadors