Last month I wrote "What I learned at Kids Camp". It was a wonderful week of outreach to more than 250 kids within our church and surrounding neighborhoods, and we all learned simple yet profound truths regarding God's love for us.
This week, my church is taking that message on the road. Just a few short weeks ago, we were made aware of an opportunity in Trenton...the next town over from our church, the capital of our state, the city where I live and an area of great need. A church, beautiful in its heyday, was now empty and looking for others to make use of the facility.
So just one month after having poured themselves into the last Kids Camp, and with only a few weeks to prepare, 140 volunteers caught the vision and rose to the challenge to do it all again for the kids in Trenton. We've never done something like this before and had no real idea of what to expect. But after praying about the possibilities, church leaders felt that this was an open door God wanted us to walk through, and we did so boldly.
We made our goal 150 children and decided rather than serving snacks at one point during the night, we would feed the kids a full dinner before the program started. We also prepared a Women's Mini Bible Camp for the moms where they could enjoy a time of song, food, crafts and Bible study.
Some of the challenges included registering kids the old-fashioned way...no online sign ups...just a sign, a table, flyers, and a lot of excited people letting residents know that something fun was heading their way. The neighborhood has a large Spanish-speaking contingent, so volunteers who could speak the language were especially sought after. The food budget was almost non-existent, and food was needed to feed potentially 150 kids each evening, for 5 nights. A lot of folks in our church vacation this month, but we needed a lot of volunteers in every sector. We were doing this in August, typically a month with sweltering temps, and the facility only had one or two small rooms with air conditioning - the main gathering areas had none.
But when God calls you to do something, He provides a way. The first night, we had 39 children and 4 moms...after 3 nights it has grown to 72 children and 11 moms - with a few dads asking what's available for them (a time of study and prayer is now available for them as well). We are prayerfully anticipating 100 children tonight.
Volunteers have come out of the woodwork to help in every area.
The food component has been a modern day loaves and fish story. One of our members works for a food service company who has provided all the entrees each evening - 750 meals for the week. Other local businesses contributed some beverages and ice cream. But the outpouring from our congregation has been amazing - chips, fruit, water, pudding, cookies, veggies, bread, and on and on and on have fed not only the kids, but their parents, our volunteers, even some folks in the park across the street as we wrapped up trays to share the excess that first night.
Even the weather has been unusually cool this week with daytime temps hovering around just 80 degrees - far cooler than normal.
We are so excited to see what else God has in store this week as tonight concentrates on "God loves you no matter what" - the message of salvation.
Day 5 is also yet to come, but we are living in the middle of its promise...God gives good gifts. As we stepped out in faith, believing God for the kids, the volunteers, the food, and more, He has been faithful to provide each step of the way, and the children in one Trenton neighborhood are learning, perhaps for the first time, that God is WILD about them!
James 4:17 says "Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it." And James 2:17 and 18: says: "So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless. Now someone may argue, 'Some people have faith; others have good deeds.' But I say, 'How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.'"
The opportunity presented itself. Prayer confirmed it was what we were being called to do. If we had not obeyed, the seeds would never have been planted. Has God challenged you with a seemingly impossible task? It is not impossible for Him...just be willing to go where He sends.