Imagine the teenager at your church that doesn’t seem like one of the “church kids”. You know, the one who knows a lot of the answers, but also cracks jokes in the back or passes notes during the sermon. Now imagine that teenager returning 20 years later with his wife & kids, telling you he’s been serving as a pastor and his family is now on their way to serving as missionaries in Hungary.
That’s the awesome weekend we’ve just shared with my friends and family in Michigan. It was a blessing to stay at Youth Haven Ranch again. To show my wife and kids this awesome campground where my life was invested in, shown love to, and where I even began to share the good news of Jesus with the next generations for the first time. Here’s a camp that purposefully aims to serve the underprivileged – kids from homes more broken than most of us could imagine, to those simply struggling with more “common” burdens. They saw the potential within the teenage me, and gave me responsibilities and places to serve with the Love of God – even as they shaped me in that same Love.
My kids and wife had to endure hours of nostalgia while I took them on tours of the campground, and then drove around my hometown Island of Eaton Rapids, Michigan. Stories they’ve heard before, now had a location and a visual to go with it.
We were also very thankful for the openness of the church I attended from about 6thgrade through graduation – Lansing South Church of the Nazarene. They were hosting a “Missions Luncheon”, and invited us to share what God had been up to. There was more than one in the crowd that was surprised to see and hear me speaking and giving testimony to what God had accomplished and was stirring next. But I have to believe there were also more than one in the crowd nodding as if they’d known all along – the Love of God is able to accomplish transformation and New Creation that can make all things new (Rev. 21:5). It was great to be able to thank this church family for the love and Christian welcome they’d given me and my family long ago, and encourage them to keep up what was obviously still happening. It was great to hear the words of Gods’ grace being preached, and see so many who were being welcomed with open arms still today in the name of Jesus.
It was a great trip altogether, one stirred originally by our Free Methodist Europe Area Administrator asking to connect while they were in Jackson this week. It was great to meet with the Winckles’, hear how God is moving in Hungary, and pray with these who we will be serving with when we are launched in 2019. Of course, it’s always a bonus when we get to spend time with family & friends nearby too! From meals with my parents & brother’s family, to high school friends – it was a blessing!
We look forward to all that God has yet in store, and would love to invite YOU to join us! We will need those who will commit to monthly praying for us – feel free to join here! You could also give a one-time or recurring gift using that same link. Thanks for all the love and support!!