Special Needs Camp

Day 3: Gospel Response to Sin

Wednesday marks the halfway point of camp - already! Right after breakfast we all took a train from Felton to the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk for lunch and bowling. This is a highlight for many of the campers and kids. The kids had fun waving to cars and pointing out different sights as we took the train and later the campers either took a walk down the beach or went bowling. Also, ice cream!

After the Grace staff and helpers prepared dinner (burgers!), Ted taught a lesson on the gospel. He reviewed previous lessons by Pastor Rick and Teddy who shared that God is the Creator and that God created man in His image.

Ted continued the gospel message and focused on the proper response to the gospel - repentance and faith. He highlighted that repentance is not just feeling bad for sin or even turning from one sin to another sin, but it is a turning away from sin and a turning to Christ. Carrie and Danielle acted out a scene involving repentance from stealing money, sorrow for sin, and seeking forgiveness. Ted also used an example of walking along the rim of a fire pit, with the help of another person, as an illustration to demonstrate that it matters who you put your faith in. If a child was helping you balance along the rim, you'd surely get burned, but if an adult helped you balance, you'd be able to make it all the way around. In the same way, it matters who we put our faith in for salvation. Christ is our only hope from sin and death, and we must put our faith in him, for every aspect of our lives. Repentance and faith are both proper responses for salvation!

For me, hearing the campers interact and respond to Ted's questions during the message helped to emphasize that whether we have special needs or we're typically functioning, the gospel is for all of us, because our fundamental problem is sin and every one of us needs Christ. It was encouraging and humbling to think this is the same good news we're studying together this summer as a church.

Please continue to keep us in your prayers that we would be faithful to lovingly proclaim the good news to the campers as we continue to get to know them and talk with them. Please also pray that we would rely on the Holy Spirit's work and not our own ideas or volition. Lastly, sometimes at the second half of the week fatigue for some campers may set in and sin could come out in different ways. Please pray for hearts that would seek Christ, not only for salvation, but in every thing!

Day 2: God, Our Holy and Loving Creator

Dear church family,

As of Tuesday night, we have just finished our first full day of camp!

On Tuesday morning, we had a sweet day spent at the camp site, full of conversations, crafts, hiking and eating! After breakfast, Pastor Rick taught from Genesis, about God as creator and how He created the world, the sun, moon and even the pesky mosquitoes! We then were able to spend time with the campers helping with crafts and going on a short hike! After dinner, Teddy taught that God created man and woman. We also went through the characteristics of God- that He is good, loving, sovereign, merciful and true. He also pointed to the holiness of God as it says in Leviticus 19:2, “You shall be holy, for I the Lord your God am holy”. Unlike sinful man, God is perfect and cannot tolerate sin, which is why we need Christ to be saved. We ended with a staff meeting and prayers for the rest of the week.

We have been greatly blessed to get to know the campers and staff at Grace and serve alongside one another. It is personally an encouragement to me to see seasoned believers who have been serving faithfully in this ministry for many, many years. Everyone has been so willing to help, from washing the dishes after meals, to getting to know a camper, to helping out with food or crafts. The campers are also so happy and excited to be here. Many of them express their love for crafts and singing praise songs by the campfire. They're all looking forward to the rest of camp!

Alongside the blessings there have been some challenges. At times the conversations with the campers can be challenging, especially going deeper into what they are learning about God. Thankfully Teddy and Ted have encouraged us to continue to pray, asking for love and more opportunities to talk to them about God. And of course the mosquitoes are feasting on all of us again.

Here are some continual prayer requests for us!

  1. Please pray that the campers would be able to see their need for Christ, as we learned last night. That they would truly understand the goodness and holiness of God, and understand that they are sinful human beings (Romans 3:11-12), in need of Christ and the gospel.

  2. As the week continues, the staff will struggle with tiredness, and some discomfort (mosquito bites!!). Pray that through these times when we are physically outside of our comfort zone, to be content, and always have a willingness to serve and love in any condition.

  3. Pray for the staff to trust in the Lord with conversations with the campers, that we would seek opportunities to talk with them about the goodness of God and the gospel. Even when the conversations don’t go as expected, to not be discouraged but to pray for them unceasingly, trusting in the sovereignty of the Lord in their lives.

Thank you so much for walking with us by reading and by praying for us!

Day 1: Ministry Partnership in the Word of Truth

Yesterday was the first day of camp. We gathered together as a team this morning to eat lunch, pack the cars, pray, and drive to the campsite. Once at the campsite, the attack of the mosquitos came immediately as we began setting up all the tents. The GCC staff and campers arrived in the late afternoon. It was a blessing to see some of the same faces as last year and the year before that. We are more equipped with mosquito head nets and protective canopies this year, but continue to pray that those bites wouldn’t be a distraction to our ministry here!

I was particularly encouraged by the testimony of one of the staff who was saved after coming out of a charismatic church. That particular church taught about the Spirit’s healing power as well as the gifts of prophecies and tongues. However, there was an overemphasis on spiritual gifts rather than addressing sin. This particular staff was taught that sin was just a spirit that was casted out upon salvation. He didn’t realize there needed to be an ongoing repentance, turning away from sin and toward God. The church took portions of scripture to fit their teaching rather than considering the whole counsel of scripture.

“3 For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
4 and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
5 As for you, always be sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.” - 2 Timothy 4:3-5

Praise God for the work He has accomplished through this staffer in bringing him to genuine salvation! We are blessed to both be at a church that teaches the truth as well as having the opportunity to partner in ministry with a church that teaches the truth. Thankful for the word that God has clearly revealed to us and the Spirit’s work in our lives to be obedient to it. Let us continue to be equipped with the word that is able to make us wise for salvation through faith in Christ and encourage one another in this endeavor as members of the body of Christ!

Day 0: Confident Prayer for Uncertain Times

One of the blessings of doing transport for the church is the one-on-one conversations that the driver and the person riding along get to share. Today, Sam Kim and I shared the ride together and among the topics was the upcoming Special Needs Camp. He asked me if there will be a particular camper whom I will be partnered with, to which I responded, “I don’t know”. This is one of the challenges and blessings of working with people with special needs - there’s a lot more uncertainty when it comes to planning (but I’m sure most would say the uncertainty is not far from the uncertainty of working with “normal” people). Pastor Rick McLean and his staff don’t have a confirmed roster until a few weeks or even days before camp. We didn’t even have a camp nurse confirmed until recently, which is a necessary qualification for the camp to get the green light. The day-to-day schedule of the whole camp can change on the basis of just one person.

Amidst this uncertainty, one thing we can confidently do is pray. This past Friday, we had an encouraging prayer meeting at the Gueco’s home, a gathering of going team members, sending team-members, and church members alike. Although we had no musician for the evening, we still sang the hymn “The Lord Is My Salvation” to prepare our hearts for prayer, with the help of electronic devices, Then JC gave a short introduction into our time of prayer, reminding us that our prayers are rooted in Scripture. For each prayer request, there was an associated Scripture verse - we read aloud all ten verses. When we pray to God, we are not saying empty phrases or recitations (Matthew 6:7), but rather we are recognizing “this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.” (1 John 5:14). We pray out of an expression of dependence upon God and he desires that we would simply come before him to ask our requests. We have the promise that “the prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working” (James 5:16b) and that answered prayer will not necessarily be fulfillment of what we explicitly ask for, because God is “able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Already we have answered prayer - God has given us a camp nurse when we were in need of one and camp teachers in Ted and Teddy. But there is still much more to pray for, especially during the week of camp. Specific needs and requests will unfold, but there are always unchanging ways to pray for - the unity of the team, the proclamation of the Word, and repentance from sin. Please take some time throughout the week to review the ways that you can be praying for us to lift these things up to the Lord! The STM is not just for those who are going and sending but for the whole church!

Here are the prayer items that you can pray for:

  • God is glorified in every aspect of the Short Term Missions (1 Cor. 10:31)

  • God would work in ways beyond what we can think ourselves (Eph 3:20-21)

  • God would open the campers' eyes to see their sinful nature and be made alive in Christ (Eph 2:1-10)

  • The partnership with Grace Community Church is a testimony to who Christ is (John 13:35)

  • Staff unity between GCC and LBCSJ (1 Cor. 1:10)

  • The team would be fully equipped and nourished in the Word (2 Tim. 3:16-17)

  • The team would be faithful to share Christ with the campers, calling those who don't know Christ to repentance and encouraging those who are believers (Matt 28:19-20)

  • Heart attitudes of walking in the Spirit (Galatians 5:16-18; 5:22-26)

  • The physical safety of the campers and staff (Psalm 32:7)

  • Safety travel of GCC staff and LBCSJ team (Joshua 1:9)

Ministry and Evangelism

Hi Church Family,

One more week until the STM team leaves for the Special Needs Camp! GCC found more nurses to join and people to teach for the week, so everything is set in motion. Thank you also for your continued support in prayer and the fundraiser that took place this week. The team had another opportunity this past Sunday to meet and be further equipped for missions.

Per Teddy's facilitation, we sought to answer the question, "What are the 2 most important things for us to understand in ministry and evangelism?" The first is that God is sovereign in both our salvation and sanctification. 1 Corinthians 3:6-7 states, "I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants or he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth." We can devise all the clever church-growth strategies or present a perfect point-by-point gospel, but in the end it is God who changes hearts. God's purposes will ultimately be fulfilled, as can be seen in Isaiah 55:10-11. Even if we were to have a "bad day" in ministry or evangelism, God's strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9-10); despite our shortcomings in these areas, God is glorified because we know that fruitfulness in ministry is not of our own abilities. God's sovereignty in our salvation and spiritual growth is an important thing to remember, especially when ministering to the special needs population. The world considers it crazy that those with special needs are loved and made in the image of God. In this world, people's worth is often measured by what they can physically accomplish. However, scripture directly opposes this notion; in 1 Corinthians 12, Paul states that the members of the body who are considered weaker or less honorable should be given greater honor. We ought to love one another in this way because this is the love that Christ showed to us. While we were spiritually dead and unable to save ourselves from God's wrath, God sent Christ to die on our behalf. There is nothing that we could ever do to earn it, and yet God gives it freely to us. It's possible that someone with special needs or disabilities may never reciprocate love or "return the favor" in response to our service, but in loving them we prove that we understand God's love for us.

The second crucial thing in ministry and evangelism is to have a right understanding of our circumstances, specifically in regards to suffering. James 1:2-4 states, "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing." No one likes to suffer; if anything, we do what we can to avoid or alleviate it. However, Christ promised us that living a godly life will cause suffering. Thankfully, God uses these circumstances to ensure our growth in perseverance and to make us more like Christ. Our response to trials is an excellent opportunity to share about God's faithfulness in our lives. As the STM team serves next week, difficulties such as fatigue, rejection, bug bites, irritability, and other unpredictable circumstances are expected to come up. Pray that they will persevere through it and use those experiences as an opportunity to share the gospel.

Speaking of prayer, there are several things that you can be praying for. Pray for the camp overall, that God's word will be preached and that souls will be saved. Pray for Teddy and Ted, as they will not only serve as shepherds for the team but also as teachers during the camp; pray that they will have the wisdom and strength to lead the team, their families, and the campers. Pray that the team will honor Christ through their service and love towards the campers and each other. Lastly, pray for the safety of everyone involved during the camp. Let's send off the team well!