Well, after less than a week at home I am off again tomorrow morning. I am heading to the Adirondacks where I will be speaking at a youth retreat for Wantagh Baptist church. I am really stoked about it! Praying that the Lord will use me to speak to the hearts of the students! I would appreciate your prayers as well. Pray also for my family. We’ve enjoyed a great week together, but I’ve been on the road quite a bit lately. Pray that they have a fun weekend together and that the Lord will keep us while we are apart. Thanks!
This evening we were blessed to have my friend Mike Kim at Planet Impact. Mike is an anointed worship leader who lives in Connecticut. After our Georgia team performed their dances and shared testimonies, we enjoyed a night of worship, just soaking in the Lord’s presence. It was especially refreshing for Ady and I as we have felt quite weary lately. Thank You Lord for your faithfulness!
Baylor-Bound, 6’8″ Brittney Griner dunks with ease!
Sorry for not blogging for the past few days. I have been trying to rest and recuperate from an intense week of ministry in Georgia. Saturday I enjoyed sleeping in a bit, a good workout, some reading, and a fun date with my wife. It’s been a long time since we have been able to go on a date without the girls and without going shopping or running errands. They went to a birthday party and then to my mother-in-law’s house for some fun. Ady and I went to see the movie Taken and then out for dinner. Before picking the girls up we had a good, long conversation about life and ministry. I love my wife so much! She’s an awesome woman! Sunday was church. I attended the first and third services and taught my Life Development class during the second. After a good nap in the afternoon I went to our Setauket small group. Today I enjoyed a day off and felt good about accomplishing quite a bit. I enjoyed some reading, finishing a book on the life of Gandhi (very fascinating man!). I also went and had lunch with both of my daughters at school, cleaned up the yard which had lots of presents from my two dogs and sticks which have fallen throughout the winter months. I took the dogs for a walk, had a solid, sweaty workout, gave the dogs a bath, and did some laundry. This evening Adriana is going out with the pastors’ wives, and I am going to spend some time with the girls.
This morning we ate breakfast and were on the road by 8:45 am heading to Crossroads – an alternative school for “troubled” teens. We did our dances and I gave a talk about my friend James who was killed in a car accident at the age of 15. During the talk I challenge teens to make wise choices in life. After the talk the team did their “Everything” drama. More than one student had moist eyes. Unfortunately the kids had to go straight to class when we finished, but our girls did have a chance to pray with three or four girls who were crying in the back row. After ministering at the school we went to serve at the Toccoa Soup Kitchen. The kids scrubbed walls, did dishes, sorted food, organized closets, broke down boxes, etc. While the people were eating their lunches we performed our dances and dramas. When we finished working at the soup kitchen we drove about a half-hour to Victory Home, a Christian drug and alcohol recovery center. The guys in the program were really touched by our ministry, and again, lots of these big, burly guys were crying when they saw our dramas. When we finished the team got into groups and prayed for just about all of the guys. When we returned to camp the team was tired and after dinner Pastor Lenny made arrangements for us to take everyone bowling at Toccoa Lanes. That was a great move! It really revived the spirit of the team as for two hours we laughed and played together.
Today was our biggest day of ministry, ministering in five locations, doing our program 6 times! We started this morning at 6:30 am when we drove to the public middle school to work with local youth pastors who run a program before school called First Priority. We had about 25 minutes and several hundred students were present as we ministered. In addition to our dramas Laura shared her testimony and I encouraged the students to remain faithful to Jesus and to let their lights shine for Him in school. When we finished we shot back to camp for less than an hour to eat breakfast and have devotions. This morning a couple of the kids were not feeling well, so we took time to pray for each person. (I have been making them all take a multi-vitamin in the morning, so I am sure that has helped keep the sick count down as well.) As soon as we were done we headed off to The Boys and Girls Club where we ministered to over 100 of the cutest kids you’ve ever seen between 3-5 years old who participate in a school called Head Start. Every year this os one of our favorites! When we are done with our program we invite the kids down to show us their dance moves and they are just adorable! We finished up there and went straight to the High School. We were supposed to have a school assembly in the gym, but they moved us instead into a large classroom. The room could not contain everyone, so they had half of the kids come in at 11:15 and the other half at 11:45 am, and we had to do our program twice. I felt led again to share about my friend James, and both times you could have heard a pin drop by the time I finished. I know God really spoke to some kids. We were able to have lunch at the high school, and a lot of the kids came up to thank us and tell us they had been touched. When we were done at the high school we drove about 30 minutes to Heart Ministries – a recovery home for women. About 25 women were present, and they just fell apart crying as three of our girls shared their testimonies and as we did our dances and dramas. It was another special God moment, and we were so glad to be able to encourage them in their recovery process. When we finished we went around and prayed for every woman. They said that they have seen lots of people come through during their time there, but that our ministry was the most powerful thing they had ever seen there. Praise be to God! Lots of tissues were used. In fact, they ran out and a lady was handing out paper towels. After some snacks and a time of fellowship with the ladies – many of them sharing about their lives and challenging our kids – we jumped back in the vehicles and drove back to Toccoa where we visited the elderly and seriously disabled in a nursing home. We did two of our dances, and I simply told the folks that God cared about Him, that He loved them, and that He remembered them; that’s why we had come – to deliver a message of God’s love to them. Then our kids went around and spoke with each and every person and prayed with them. It was very special! Before heading back to camp we swung by Toccoa Falls and took some pictures. We are now eating dinner and tonight we will sit around the camp fire and share all that we have learned and experienced this week. Tomorrow morning we will journey back to Atlanta to catch our flight home. It’s been a really busy and a really great week! See ya tomorrow!
After lunch our team headed to Shepherd’s Hill Farm which runs a residential program as well as summer camps using horses to help troubled teens, as therapy for disabled people, and to teach leadership and team work. We were planning on helping around the farm by cleaning up … you know … animal “stuff”, but unfortunately (or fortunately, however you want to look at it) the trailer had not arrived and there was no place to put the “stuff”, so instead of serving we ended up with a real treat. The folks from the farm spoke to our team about life and shared lessons that horses can teach us about life in Christ. Two of the girls who are residents of the program gave us a demonstration of what they have been able to accomplish and shared a bit from their own lives. Following that they split us into two teams and gave us a challenge. Each team had 15 minutes to get one of four horses to jump a hurdle. The first team went while team 2 watched. This was a great advantage to team 2 which was able to learn from their observation of team 1. We learned much about leadership, teamwork, and most of all ourselves in the process. I won’t take time to spell out all of the things we learned through this exercise, but it was a real eye-opener and a real treat.
After dinner (John Long ribs … once again, doesn’t feel right to eat this good on a missions trip! lol Thanks John!) we all went down by the lake where we had an awesome camp fire cranking. We spent three hours debriefing our day, sharing, praying for one another, and worshiping the Lord. It was a beautiful and special experience. Lots of tissues were needed, and when those ran out sweatshirt sleeves sufficed. After the serious time the air filled with laughter as the team began to sing silly songs and children’s rhymes, and we headed up to the cafeteria where we enjoyed some cake in honor of Matt Moreo’s birthday. It was a fun and fruitful day!
This morning we went to the Stephen’s County Jail. We were told we would be doing some ministry, but when we arrived we were informed that due to a recent policy change we would not be able to interact with the inmates. Not all was lost, however. The sheriff and the chaplain gave us al a tour of the jail including a trip to the tower where we could observe the prisoners in their pods. It was definitely a great experience in terms of giving our students a glimpse of what life is like behind bars. No clocks, no time outside whatsoever, no television … in short, no fun! At the end of the tour we did do a bit of ministry. We prayed over the sheriff and over the entire jail. She was very touched that we did that.
After the jail we went to the Senior Center, a community center for senior citizens. We did a couple of our pieces for them as they ate lunch. Afterward we had a chance to clean their tables, meet the folks, and pray for many of them. Following our time there we went back to camp for lunch.
This afternoon we went to The Boys & Girls Club where we ministered to and played with the kids who were there. After our time there we went to the Tallulah Gorge and hiked down the 1,062 steps and all the way back up. It was a great workout and absolutely stunning scenery. Everyone on the team made it. On the way back up a lady who was coming down asked me if I was the youth pastor. After I said I was, she said that she had seen our shuttle and grew up in our church. I couldn’t believe it! After talking a bit I asked her for her name and she said that her maiden name was Burd. Incredibly, she was Laurie, sister of Danny Burd of YWAM. How crazy is that? We spent quite a bit of time talking with her. Very cool! After dinner we gathered together for a team meeting and will be turning in early tonight. I am certain that everyone will sleep very well tonight after such a big workout! Thanks again for your love and support!
No problems at the airport. Everyone got through security fine, our plane was on time, and we had a nice flight. We had the opportunity to talk to a few people about what we were up to, so that is always good in terms of letting our light shine. Anthony brought along a copy of my book, and he and Mike used it the entire flight. So cool! They said that it made the flight feel like 5 minutes. Yes, that was a shameless sales pitch. Ha Ha! When we arrived at the airport we met up with Pastor Lenny & Jackie, picked up our rental, and after about an hour were on the road headed toward Toccoa. We stopped at Wendy’s and everyone got dinner. I got to talk to a young man named Jeff who was inquiring about our group, and gave him one of my cards. We got to out camp around 10:30 pm and everyone was stoked to be there. John Long was waiting for us with donuts and hot chocolate! After a brief team meeting we took our luggage to our rooms, and the worship team did a bit of a rehearsal. Lights out was at midnight, but in reality everyone fell asleep around 1:30.
No time to sleep in! We had to be on the vans heading to Athens, GA (about an hour away) at 6:00 am, so wake up time was at 5 am. I was awakened by the sound of boys talking, and showers and sinks running. I thought: did I oversleep? I looked at my clock and saw that it was only 4:25 am. Why in the world were all of the guys awake? Too much adrenaline. We hushed and shushed them until about 5:15 am, but it was no use, we could not fall back to sleep. At 5:45 we all grabbed bags with muffins and water bottles. We were supposed to have fruit too, but the walk-in refrigerator had frozen up during the night, so that was out. The kids wolfed down their continental breakfasts and we pulled out at 6 am. After a quick stop at the WalMart to get some supplies we drove the hour to Athens where we did the church service for over 200 men at The Potter’s House – a Christian recovery center. They packed out the chapel and about 20 guys had to stand out in the foyer. It was a great service! The team did really great! Mike played guitar, James played drums, and Stan and Laura led worship vocally. The men sang with all of their might, and it was a glorious sound! Stan shared a powerful testimony that was very moving and challenging to the guys. Justin & Jeff shared their testimonies as well. We performed two of our dramas/dances and I preached, followed by the kids praying for dozens of the men at the altar and more worship. After the service we shared some refreshments with the guys, chatting with them before heading back to Toccoa.
Hey friends! I would love to see you in southern California in March at the Purpose-Driven youth Ministry Conference! Check out this video for a special invitation from Doug Fields!