Georgia Monday Part 2 & Tuesday

Monday Part 2 …

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!

Tuesday …

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!


Georgia Mission Saturday-Monday Morning

Greetings everyone! It’s Monday morning about 11:15 am and I have finally found a few minutes to sit down and update you on our adventures. I do not have Internet access where we are staying, so I have to wait until we go to Pastor Lenny’s house or the church to get online. OK, I’ll try to be brief but thorough.
Saturday …
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.

Sunday …
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.

After lunch we enjoyed some free time driving an hour to Hellen, GA. Pastor Lenny took us to a cool little mill where we saw them making different grain foods the old fashioned way – the entire thing powered by water from the river behind the mill. Really neat! After that we all played mini golf which was a lot of fun. Then we drove to see Ruby falls, but when we got there, the scenic overlook was closed for two weeks for construction. We did not have time to hike back to see it, so instead we spent a few minutes in Hellen, a very cute German-style town. We got back to camp at 7:30 pm. After dinner Brendon led devotions, we talked through some logistical stuff, had a time of prayer, and then we went to our cabins and lights were out by 10:30 pm. We had been going on 3 hours of sleep, and as much as they wouldn’t admit it, everyone was exhausted and fell asleep quickly.
Monday Morning …
This morning I got up at 6 am, and the only other guy awake was Anthony, our resident morning guy. I got up early so I could go for a great run in the mountains on this beautiful, crisp Georgia morning. I jogged about 3 miles including some good hills. When I returned, Anthony and I walked down to the lake and had a good time talking and praying together. After that everyone was getting up and around and we had John Long pancakes for breakfast. Today is Matt Moreo’s 18th birthday, so we sang “Happy Birthday” to him, and he happened to be on devotions this morning, so he challenged us with a good word and we prayed together. At 9 am we went to The Peer Center, which is a home for the mentally ill. We recognized many friends from lat year, and it was a joy to be with them. After our dramas, Bianca, Emily, Alexis, James, Gary, and Mike all gave their testimonies – all doing a fantastic job! Following our presentation all of the kids spread out and prayed for the residence. Beautiful Jesus-style ministry!
We are now at the church. The team is sorting out and packing food boxes for many people who will be arriving soon to them up. When we are done here we will be going back to camp for lunch, and this afternoon we will be going to a horse farm to help a lady who uses horses to minister to and provide therapy to mentally handicap people. We will be doing whatever is necessary, including, yes!, cleaning stalls! The dorms might smell a little gamy tonight! lol
Thanks for your continued love and support!

PDYM Conference Promo Video!

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!

2008 Slam Dunk Contest

Last year I was in Georgia on a missions trip during the All-Star weekend and missed the festivities. I will be gone agin this year, so it got me to thinking about what I missed last year. Here’s the 2008 Dunk Contest. Spectacular!

Teaching, Lobbying, Claudia’s First Solo, Talking to Kids, & A MacBook

Wow! What a full few days it has been!

On Monday I was in Manhattan teaching two youth ministry classes at NYACK College. I was guest teaching for my friend Gregg Makin. I Taught American Youth Culture and Intro to Youth Ministry. It was a ton of fun, a great privilege, and a great joy to be in my element! I taught from 2-9 pm, returning home on the train and arriving at 11:30 pm. I tried to go right to bed, but I did not fall asleep until 2 am (my usual bedtime). Unfortunately, I had to get up at 3:30 am on Tuesday so I could catch a 4:30 am bus to Albany as I was chaperoning a trip for the Smithtown/Suffolk County Youth Bureau. We took 300 kids from Suffolk County for the Youth Leadership Forum and to lobby our leaders regarding funding for the youth programs, which would be drastically cut if the governor’s proposal goes through. We met with two of our Assemblymen and three of our Senators, with many of the students telling them what the youth bureau programs have meant to them, and how their lives will be impacted if they are cut. We also asked them not to lump prevention programs with mandated programs, which the governor has also proposed. At 3 pm we loaded the busses and headed home.

I arrived home at 7 pm, just in time to get to the church for Claudia’s first solo in the elementary choir. (See video. Note: I adjusted my hand while holding the camera right before she sang, and I accidentally covered the mic with my finger. You can still hear her on the video, but turn your volume up. Sorry!) She also played flute in the Beginner Band. She was absolutely outstanding and we were so proud of her. I thought I might be able to sleep in a bit on Wednesday morning, but nope! It happened to be the day I was scheduled to speak at the elementary chapel. I had an absolute blast with them, talking about hearing God. After chapel I visited a 6th grade class to talk to them about my book and the process of writing and getting a book published. I asked some questions from the book and the kids were going crazy … the point of the book perfectly illustrated!

Today I facilitated our monthly youth leader’s network meeting. We had a wonderful time of sharing and interaction followed by lunch together. After our meeting I went to the Apple store to pick up my new laptop … a 15″ MacBook Pro! Totally sweet! I had nothing but trouble for 3 1/2 years with my Dell XPS, the latest of which have affected my ability to do my job and the cost of trying to fix it was adding up because the warranty had expired. I am excited to learn the Mac, and hope that I can catch on quickly.

This evening our friend Laurie Crowley came out to see us. She is a youth pastor in Greece, NY and was down in the city visiting her brother. When she arrived on the train we all went to Port Jefferson for dinner after which we returned to the house to sip Starbucks and visit. I am really excited that she has recently joined our Purpose Driven Youth Ministry team as the second New York State mentor. I recommended her to PDYM as New York is so spread out and I felt we needed a rep upstate. We had a nice time together just talking about life and ministry, sharing ideas, and encouraging each other.

Tomorrow I finally, finally have a day to rest. Then, on Saturday, I am taking a team of 24 to Toccoa, Georgia for a week-long missions trip. I am hoping to blog while on the trip, but it will depend on my ability to get internet access.

Bill Gates Makes His Point!

Bill Gates knows how to make a point! If you didn’t see his object lesson, check it out on this video

Lonliness Motivated Mom of Octuplets

Another talking point from the story of the mother of octuplets. Here’s an article from

“Octuplets mom says she longed to escape loneliness”

WHITTIER, Calif. – In her first interview since giving birth to octuplets, Nadya Suleman tells NBC she wanted a huge family to make up for the isolation she says she always felt as an only child.

In a brief excerpt of the interview released Thursday, the 33-year-old single mother tells “Today” show anchor Ann Curry she had a dysfunctional childhood and sought to erase that with the closeness children could bring. NBC says the full interview will air Monday.

Suleman, who now has 14 children, says all were conceived through in vitro fertilization with sperm donated by a friend.

The octuplets, born last week, remain hospitalized. The others range in age from 2 to 7.

Suleman says it took seven years of trying before she became pregnant with her first child.