Posts Tagged ‘God & Jesus’

Living Water

Thanks to Erin “Tye Dye” Dye for this guest post.  Tye Die is the camp shepherd this summer:

Thursday evenings this summer have been an opportunity for holy moments. Counselors have gotten to know their campers really well by the 5th night, campers submerse in good vibes from the week and excitement to go home, and for our worship times, this evening is a chance to have an “a ha” moment with the theme and how it relates to their own lives. During our Thursdays the last four weeks, we have looked the story of the woman at the well and her unexpected conversation with Jesus. When Jesus offers her living water, he shows us that he cares for everyone, even the unlikely people (a woman frowned upon by society as well as a Samaritan). As refreshing as the idea of living water sounds, this is an abstract concept of cleansing aspects of ourselves that we can’t pinpoint or see. In efforts to visualize the invisible, campers and staff participated in a demonstration to see the implications of receiving Jesus’s living water. Participants had an opportunity to pour something into a communal cup of water to make it cloudy (ketchup, mustard, pepper, etc.), and share something that personally clouds or weighs down their own spirits. Then as a group we enjoyed the visual of pouring overwhelming amounts of clean water (representing Jesus’ living water), flooding the cup and pushing out all the junk that we put in and that weighs us down, leaving us refreshed and free of burden. Campers consistently reported enjoyment of this activity and deeper appreciation of God’s desire to help us carry and bring relief for our burdens. It’s been a beautiful catalyst moment for the spiritual component of camp.

Campers have shared experiencing God at many different points throughout the summer.  One of those experiences I was fortunate enough to witness as God worked through our high school campers. After one of our small group times, the girls of this particular cabin had heavy hearts over the things they shared and put in the cup during the demonstration. In an effort to put their minds at rest before going to sleep, the cabin counselor opted to pray for each girl of the cabin out loud and proceeded to highlight the delightful characteristics and joys each girl brought to the cabin. At the end of the counselor’s prayer, I had planned to pray similar things for the counselor leading the prayer. However, I never got the chance because the moment she paused one of the campers jumped at the opportunity to pray and pour encouragement on their counselor, and when she finished another camper took a turn to pray for me! This moment was not only pleasant to be prayed for, but more so to witness campers receiving God’s love through our program all week and a strong desire to return the experience. This also meant our campers felt comfortable enough to pray out loud in front of their peers, unprompted, and live out the example Jesus calls us to in encouraging and building one another up in our faith. Although the work of camp is long and challenging at times, it is certainly not without reward!

~ Tye Dye

Mission Success

It is challenging to gauge success when trying to accomplish a mission like Bethany Birches’.  We do some surveys after summer and winter seasons to see how we did in a couple different areas.  I just LOVE what came from the surveys this past summer.

33% of survey respondents (parents) rated their child’s experience a 10 or “the best time imaginable.”  33% more rated their child’s experience as a 9. And 24% an 8. Half of all survey respondents said their children “seem more loving or kind” after their week at camp. As I read through survey’s from camper parents post summer I saw this report from a mother about her two campers:

“They both came home singing great pre-dinner songs like, “thank you God, for giving us food!!!!” We loved learning these songs and still sing them before meals! They also learned about how to be a good friend, and how to work well with others. They learned how to do their own dishes which made me very happy!”

I think that part of the reason most campers loved it here last summer (ratings of 8, 9, 10) is because they felt loved, accepted and cared for (fun, great people and great activities didn’t hurt either!).  “Proof” that we are creating the type of atmosphere required to accomplish our mission.  I also take great encouragement knowing that half of the parents surveyed said their children “seem more loving or kind.”  This reminds me of Jesus’ teaching to love God and to love people.  We must become a person filled with God’s love and love for those around us to accomplish this.  If parents are noticing their children becoming “more loving or kind” I bet it’s because what happens at camp is helping people live out this teaching of Jesus and develop a relationship with God.

Mission Success!

Brandon “Tuna” Bergey

Matthew 25: BBC Style

 

Matthew 25:34 reads: ‘When I was in prison you visited me, when I was hungry, you fed me, when I was stuck on Lynds Hill Road, you pulled me out…’

Actually that last phrase isn’t in the Bible. But the phrase does describe how the Bible came alive last week at Bethany Birches Camp.

I was getting ready to feed Susie when I heard a knock on the sliding door (a common mission impossible destination for many – knocks are not uncommon!).  A man I did not know stood outside our door, looking cold and tired. I opened the door a crack.

“Hello, can I help you?”

“Uh, yea,” the man replied. “I’m from VTEL, I’m stuck down the road. Could I use your phone to call a tow truck?”

“Oh, I’m sorry. Yes, you may use the phone, come on in.”

“Do you have the number for a local towing company?” The stranger asks sheepishly.

“Uh, sir, you’re in Plymouth, VT. the middle of nowhere. Nothing is local… Let me call my husband at the camp up the road, he’ll know who to call.”

” Oh, just up the road, I can walk up there.”

And after a bit more conversation the cold, tired man trudges up the road towards camp.

About 15 min later, I see Chick on the tractor and Tuna and the stranger in our car driving down the road.

15 min later I see the tractor, the car and a mini van come up the road. The stranger gets out and gives Tuna a hug. The man gave Chick the certificate pictured here.

He wasn’t naked, hungry or in prison. He was stuck. And Chick and Tuna helped him get unstuck.

The words of Jesus continue to come alive at Bethany Birches Camp. Join us on the hill (work days, winter camp, summer camp, volunteering) to experience Jesus for yourself.

-Cheeks.
Towing Certified

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.

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

Newsletter 2013: Snow Camp!

A lot of snow + campers + BBC= SNOW CAMP!! Undoubtedly campers love going to camp: to see friends, to see the staff, and at BBC- to learn more about God. We (a group of volunteers) had a great time with the campers in a non-stop action packed weekend, but the focus wasn’t necessarily on snow – It was on God.

Something that stands out in my mind from the weekend was a conversation that a couple of us (volunteers and campers) were having. I remembered one of the campers – he has a brilliant mind but had a hard time processing the existence of one almighty God. He and his family tended to be polytheistic and as we talked about the story of Elijah found in 1 Kings in the Bible, he asked some really good questions – like, “Why did Elijah call upon Baal to bring fire down when that wasn’t Baals ‘gift’ or ‘power’? He wasn’t the god of fire so of course he won’t be able to send fire down on the altar.” Hmm, good point. We continued to go deeper, yet at some point he seemed to reach an impasse, to which he said, “I’m a skeptic…” as if he thought that by saying that I would stop asking questions.  We pressed on.  He said that it would take a REALLY BIG miracle to prove to him that the God of Abraham is real.

IMG_7573It was a blessing to be a part of that discussion. He was processing the Christian story. He was asking good questions. He has a deeper knowledge now than he had before – whether that translates into a trust in Jesus and eventual service of God’s Kingdom is yet to be seen.  At least a weekend at camp filled his heart and mind with knowledge of the truth. Sometimes these conversations can be a challenge, but they’re the ones that can also bring about the most change and can give us the most encouragement to keep going, to keep proclaiming the message of the gospel to a world that so desperately needs to hear it, see it, feel it, experience it – and Bethany Birches IS all of those things to EVERY camper!

Scott Kratz, Volunteer

 

At Home in the World: Spiritual Saturday

Among the blogs I read is Generous Matters. It’s largely about generosity, giving and making ourselves rich toward God (rather than just plain old rich). This past Friday, the author of the blog included an excerpt from CS Lewis… I love CS Lewis! Here’s what he wrote in one of his books:

“Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that is ‘finding his place in it,’ while really it is finding its place in him. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of really being at home on Earth, which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.”

Having read Screwtape Letters, I know that Lewis does not consider it a good thing when we feel “at home on Earth.”  Being at home on Earth makes it hard to be at home in God’s Kingdom.

This summer, we hope to have a ton of fun while discovering together this special place some Christians call God’s Kingdom.  If we trust Jesus’ words, we know that in that place is where we receive “life to the full.”

Tuna

Tuna Tuesday: Life to the full

I was writing in my journal this morning after reading a booked called Enjoy the Silence. Great book. Geared toward teens but relevant to adults.

In my reflection, I was thinking about the fact that last summer was our second most attended summer ever. And that high attendance came after a spring of virtually no advertising and very little marketing. We were focused on the cabin renovations and simply being able to use the building in time for summer.

Any increase in attendance couldn’t be traced to communications work done that winter and spring. I believe it was God who brought the increase. For me, this is a reminder that it is God who sustains all things (and even lets us partner sometimes in this effort – like when we tend our gardens). It’s God who provides the air we breathe and the life we were born into.

Pray with me that we will remember this each day and that once again, this summer, God will bring many campers so he may inspire them and encourage their hope and faith. We are told that faith is what pleases God. And with God we have life to the full.

To another summer, experiencing life to the full!

Tuna

 

Les Miserables & Camp: Tuna Tuesday

So Cheeks and I watched Les Miserables on video the other night.  It’s a classic story and the most recent version done on video is very good.  As I was watching the scene when Javert decides to drown himself, I realized one of many reasons to learn to love our enemies – so we don’t drown ourselves!

Here’s what he says in the song that made me think of this:

Da.ned if I’ll live in the debt of thief
Da.ned if I’ll yield at the end of the chase
I am the law and the law is not mocked
I’ll spit his pity right back in his face
There is nothing on Earth that we share
It is either Valjean or Javert!

Full Lyrics


In short, he can’t handle the fact that his enemy, Jean Valjean, loved him enough to help him in his time of need (Valjean gains permission to release him from behind enemy lines – he would have been most likely killed had Valjean not done this).  He can’t stand this kindness so much that he decides to drown himself.

An article from Wikipedia explains the narrative this way:

“Javert wanders the streets in emotional turmoil: his mind simply cannot reconcile the image he had carried through the years of Valjean as a brutal ex-convict with his acts of kindness on the barricades. Now, Javert can be justified neither in letting Valjean go nor in arresting him. For the first time in his life, Javert is faced with the situation where he cannot act lawfully without acting immorally, and vice versa. Unable to find a solution to this dilemma, and horrified at the sudden realization that Valjean was simultaneously a criminal and a good person—a conundrum which made mockery of Javert’s entire system of moral values—Javert decides to resolve the dissonance by drowning in the river Seine; his body is later found.”

Here’s my point – Jesus’ teaching to love our enemies is for our own good.  Whether we drown ourselves in an actual river or a metaphorical river, hate causes deep inner turmoil.

One of our goals at camp is to build a community of love each week, each summer and over the lifetime of the camp, with all who participate.  This helps each of us learn to love those we otherwise might not get along with.  In learning to love those hard to love, we become free from hate.  Just one of the many things Jesus saves us from.

Tuna

Mt. Washington & The Life of Faith: Tuna Tuesday

So yesterday I hiked up the back side of Mt. Washington with some friends.  We wanted to get some late season skiing in!

I have a cool GPS map but there’s an error with the file.  If you could see the map you’d notice that we were all over the place! After hiking up, we walked to different areas of the mountain to see how the skiing was over there (and then over there… and over there). We did this because we didn’t know the mountain very well and wanted to find out where the sweet spots were.

Tuna and Friends Mt WashingtonThis is not so different than the life of faith.  For example, Jesus tells us in the Bible that he is “the way, the truth and the life…”  For many years, it was hard for me to understand what that meant.  I hadn’t experienced him enough to know that what he said is true or understand how it worked.   I hadn’t found out where the good skiing was, yet, so to speak.  In fact, yesterday I had to trust that there was good skiing up there somewhere.  And I trusted that there was because many people have said so, and, I had been there a few times before.

Tuna and friends on mt washingtonWhen we got down, one friend mentioned that he feels like he knows the mountain much better now.  (He’d better – we spent 10 hours walking around on top of it!)  When following Jesus, in faith, it feels very much like this.  A little like wondering around for a while on top of a mountain.  And, we get to know him better after spending time with him or trying out something he said.  Then we come to a knowledge of him.  Knowledge of him (or of the mountain) is beyond faith in him (or trust that the mountain will have some sweet spots).

Just one of the many reasons I’m excited for Summer Camp 2013.  Another chance to explore the life of faith and come to know Jesus.  Please share if you too are excited for camp (or have been up Mt. Washington in the spring!).

What about you – what’s the life of faith like for you?

Tuna

 

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