Archive for the ‘God’ Category

Annual Sunday Service and BBQ (Church at Camp)

It’s that time of year – time for the camp staff to share about their experiences at camp, including how they’re experiencing God.  And a Chicken BBQ!

You’re invited.  If you can, come up to camp this coming Sunday, July 13, 2014 a little before 10am.  Service starts at 10am.  AND, there’s a Chicken BBQ directly following.  The BBQ is on us (free of charge – however we will take an offering for the Pavilion Project during the service).

As you probably know, the work of Bethany Birches is to create a camp atmosphere where young people can learn, grow and come to faith in Jesus.  This Sunday is about how that work is progressing and how we’ve evidenced God working and moving among us.

This post includes some of the folks who shared last summer.

See you here July 13?

Giving Creates Happiness (and more money)

This post is about money and time.  These are two scarce resources.  By the end of the post, I hope to have made a great case for why you might like to accept my invitation to come and give time to camp, or give money, or both.  In the giving of these two scarce resources, you will be happier!

I stumbled upon two blog posts this past week, both dealing with the data that shows giving things away (especially money and time) make people happier.

One post was sent to me by my brother (thanks Bryce).  It’s here.  In it, author Arthur Brooks writes:

In 2003, while working on a book about charitable giving, I stumbled across a strange pattern in my data. Paradoxically, I was finding that donors ended up with more income after making their gifts. This was more than correlation; I found solid evidence that giving stimulated prosperity.

He’s not talking about tax loop holes… he’s talking about the way that giving stimulates us.  He goes on to explain:

Psychologists, I learned, have long found that donating and volunteering bring a host of benefits to those who give. In one typical study, researchers from Harvard and the University of British Columbia confirmed that, in terms of quantifying “happiness,” spending money on oneself barely moves the needle, but spending on others causes a significant increase.

I have seen this over and over again. I’ve been working for Bethany Birches for 10 years now.  One of my primary responsibilities is to reach out to supporters and would-be supporters and share the power of camp with them.  It’s amazing. When people are here, at camp, they meet and impact young people.  Often they catch a vision of a better world.  They are inspired to adjust aspects of their own lives, encourage young people and give to the camp.  It’s magical… or perhaps a better word is mystical.  Mystical is a better word, I think, because it makes room for the possibility that in this process of relationships and service (giving of ourselves and our resources), God enters.

The second post is from a blog I subscribe to called Generous Matters.  In her post, Rebekah Basinger references Brooks’ post and adds some of her own words.

Here’s the problem with all this.  It sounds suspicious.  Until you experience the joy that comes from giving your time and money away, especially to those who need it (like young people at camp), you can’t quite believe that it can provide meaning and happiness.

Won’t you give it a try?

Give Money     Give Time

Tuna

(aka Brandon Bergey)

Career! The intersection of faith and work. Tuna and Cheeks share with Christopher Dock High School Students

A number of weeks ago I got an email from John Stoltzfus, the campus pastor at Christopher Dock Mennonite High School.  He wanted to know if Cheeks or I or both would be willing to come share about the intersection of faith and career in our lives.  I thought about it for a day and realized that not only would I enjoy being back at my alma matter, I have a deep passion for young people and their search to figure out what to do with their time.  It was a stressful journey for me and so I wrote him back and told him I’d love to share with the Dock students!

Here’s what I said.  Cheeks worked her schedule out to be able to come also. She was able to share a small part of her story.

Segment I (9 min.):  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UcghQe96LtY&feature=youtu.be

How have your faith and career intersected?  I’d love to hear about it.
Tuna

The Benefits of Breakfast

On February 8, we hosted a Women’s Breakfast at Blooming Glen Mennonite Church. When planning began last year, the committee decided to ask Amber to share, and she said yes! The committee also decided that donations raised at the breakfast would go to Camp.

The Women’s Breakfast was a huge success! Amber shared stories from the Hill about “Meeting God in Unexpected Places”. She talked about there being room for conflicting feelings in our lives – like strength & weakness, confidence & fear, when we have Jesus. That sometimes both are present, but the love of Jesus allows us to acknowledge and understand the differences in the highs and lows in our lives, without allowing them to define who we are.

This happens to me every year when we come to shepherd for a week at camp. I love the opportunity to be with the kids, getting to know them better in a one-to-one setting. But I am not so comfortable standing before them and speaking during daily Jump Start’s and Fireside’s. The benefits that come from the relationships developed with campers definitely outweighs my public speaking fears, and the grace of God allows me to have enough confidence to get through the hard part of FEAR so that I can enjoy the LOVE of being with kids at camp.

I was privileged to be a part of the planning committee for this Women’s Breakfast. It is a lot of work, but seeing 115 women, spanning several generations, come together for a morning of fellowship, food and rejuvenation through the words shared is such a blessing! And while fund-raising is not the main focus of our breakfast, we are continually amazed at the wonderful ways in which God works. We had several different donors come forward willing to give $5,000 in “matching donations”! This means that they will match all donations given at the breakfast, up to $5,000. In turn, this encourages people to give generously at the breakfast, because then basically every dollar they give is doubled! I am always amazed by the strength of a community when they work together. Who would think that a breakfast could generate this much funding?

And guess what? We collected over $4,500 on that Saturday morning! Praise God! There are expenses to cover and we are still collecting donations this week. Our goal is to raise as close to $5,000, which will then turn in to $10,000 for camp! As of today (Valentine’s day), we are at $9,000! So I challenge you to think of new, fun ways that you can raise money for the new pavilion. To you campers who ski a lot – what about selling hot chocolate slope-side? What about hosting a pancake breakfast before school one morning? Think about it, and don’t let your fears stop you from doing something that will give back to you and your community… YOU CAN DO IT!!

Flo

(aka Beth Goshow)

 

Click here to listen to Amber’s sharing!

Click here for photos from the morning.

Mission Possible: Giving Presence

BBC has chosen a theme for summer 2014! There has been a pattern developing the past few years. A theme for the upcoming summer is chosen and at the same time the prior summer’s theme is STUCK in my mind. For the past 6 weeks we’ve contemplated the summer theme for 2014 and I’ve had Mission Possible (summer 2013) on the brain!

Over the next few weeks perhaps I’ll share some of the ways I’ve seen Mission Possible come alive outside the realm of summer camp. I could share how Mission Possible has morphed into a relevant way to experience God everyday. For now, here’s one example:

I love presents! Some people know this about me. Some people may not. I love to OPEN presents and I love to GIVE presents. The look on someone’s face when they first view the present they didn’t even know they wanted but are so glad to have is priceless! Giving someone joy makes me near giddy. The anticipation of uncovering what is underneath the wrapping paper is the best suspense I’m aware of! I love presents.

This year is different. I can’t decide what to wrap for the people I love most. What do they want? What do they need?

This year is different. Both sides of my family have decided to exchange names which means less giving/receiving of presents.

This year giving presents has felt nearly impossible. And then I received the following in an email:

“This time of year, I’m particularly aware of the importance of presence.  Not presents, but presence… The gift of their (family) presence has been truly the most rewarding gift I have ever received. Just knowing that they are there for me gives me confidence to do whatever my heart desires.  And that is a great gift.
In this season of presents, it’s easy to get bogged down in the commercialism and gift buying.  I would like to encourage you to give someone your presence this holiday season.  It will mean a great deal to the giver and the receiver. ” (Michelle Cummings, Training Wheels CEO)

Suddenly both giving and receiving seems possible. And exciting. I will give my presence. I will enjoy the presence of others. Together we will experience God’s presence.

#WithGod.

Celebrating Christmas at Camp with Presents - Summer 2013

Celebrating Christmas at Camp with Presents – Summer 2013

Get a New Perspective

God is on the move at camp! I write this because there is so much happening and a lot of it seems very good.

As I reflect on this, I think about how we experience things we like, we can easily attribute those feelings to God’s goodness and gifts. Similarly, when we experience things we don’t like, we can easily attribute our feelings to God and say God is against us (sometimes this may be but often, we simply need to re-calibrate our understanding of what is good, or rather, who is good).I really like the fundraising that’s happening at Bethany Birches Camp (BBC) right now. For example, the 11th Annual Benefit Auction that happened at camp in late September raised $60,000. It’s easy to feel a sense of blessing in the wake of that fundraiser. Or, consider the current status of Mission Possible: The Pavilion Project. $1.2 million has been committed to date. These two numbers are historical for BBC.On the other hand, this coming weekend we’re hosting a teen connect. Only 15 are signed up right now. On a bad day, it’s easy for me to feel like God has not blessed this event.

It helps me in the face of what I perceive as wild success and annoying failure to remember a couple things from Scripture. First, in Isaiah 55, God exclaims “I don’t think the way you think. The way you work isn’t the way I work.” Second, from Paul in Philippians 4 we learn that it’s possible to be content whatever our circumstances. And third, from Jesus, we come to understand that God’s blessings pour out on the righteous and unrighteous and that often things are reversed (the beatitudes illustrate blessing in tough situations and it’s hard for wealthy people to enter the Kingdom).

Join me in praying for the camp and the many people it serves. Pray for blessing, for effectiveness in ministry, for those of us in leadership to stay near to Jesus and for many campers to experience God’s love.

When you’re done praying, check out a few of these interesting webpages:
All about the Pavilion Project
All about the Auction
Winter camps coming up
Sign up for MP campaign text updates
Sign up for camp update emails

BBC Teen Campers to Ethiopia

Campers will teach you just as much as (if not more than) you teach them. I share this mantra with staff often throughout orientation. Staff  and campers prove the saying true for 8 weeks every summer at Bethany Birches Camp (BBC). A few weeks ago I experienced the mantra to be true for myself as well. Three BBC teen campers reminded me of what it looks like to love God and love people.

About 6 months ago at BBC’s 2013 April Connect for Teens, Annie and Katie Soho told me I should join them on a service trip to an orphanage in Ethiopia in August*. The offer was tempting. I perseverated for about 6 weeks until I finally declined. Recently I was browsing pictures from their trip and reading about their stories (I’m still waiting to hear in person) through an article in the Valley News** and I’m wondering why I didn’t join them. The pictures and comments struck me as love in action. Specifically loving the least – children and widows. The campers were carrying out the beliefs I claim and share each summer.

For the past 10 summers I’ve shared God’s 2 most important commandments: Love God and Love People. As each summer concludes the post summer blues inevitably sink in. I miss the excitement and energy of young people at camp. I miss the staff. I feel like the beauty of camp is wasted on the emptiness. I wonder if any campers heard anything this summer that will change their lives. Over the course of their summers at BBC – Annie, Katie and Flossie heard something. These 3 girls have been hearing this message for a long time from camp, from their churches and from their families. These BBC campers not only heard a message to love others but put the message into practice. They sacrificed 2 weeks of their summer to serve in Ethiopia. Campers continue to teach me.

Annie, Katie (and their mom Sandy) and Flossie inspired me. Following their journey to Ethiopia and back again has inspired me to not just stay on the hill of a lonely camp but to move into the world (or invite the world to me) to love God and love people. I don’t know that I’ll be heading to Ethiopia anytime soon but right now I’m inspired by these 3  BBC campers to consider how I can live out now what I share all summer. How do I love the love and serve the people around me now? I’m learning more from these campers than they are from me.

 

*Selamta Family Project is an organization that seeks to place orphans in forever families. Find out more here.

**I waited too long after the article to post this. You can’t seem to get to the article anymore online. If you’d like to read it in full let me know, I think I can get my hands on a copy.