Bail Buckets and God Moments

Focus on the Family called me this week, asking for donations to help families who have been hard hit by the pandemic. Last week it was Family Life who called. I hated to tell them no, but the truth is that our family is also feeling the effects of Covid-19.

Most camp ministries either closed or switched to a resort model this summer. Regulations were so stringent, and constantly changing, that youth ministry and group ministry has been difficult to implement. Camp JIM (Jesus Is Mine) stayed open because we felt it was God’s plan, and He did amazing things.

Part of the summer we were restricted to day camps only. They were small. One week we had only 12 campers. In these “smaller” weeks big ministry happened, and extra summer staff went out in teams to serve in the community. They painted churches and widow’s homes. They were God’s answer to other people’s prayers.

Our high-school and college aged summer staff grew spiritually during times of study and discipleship that we’ve never been able to bring to this level… a positive side of the pandemic. Because camp hours were shortened and campers went home at night, we were able to do staff development that hasn’t been possible during a “normal summer.”

There were 18 re-dedications and 18 salvations during youth camps (that we know of). Minnesota’s mandatory mask edict began the day after youth camps ended. The timing was good because keeping masks on kids can be an extra challenge. We didn’t experience any Corona outbreaks. God protected us.

All of our summer staff have moved on. Colleges are starting. We moved our oldest daughter into her dorm yesterday. Camp has transitioned into our retreat season. Normally, churches bring their people out for their own youth camps, family camps, board retreats, etc… Again, because of the pandemic, there are many cancellations and smaller groups. That means less ministry and less income.

Now what? We have had to let half of our full time staff go. The rest of us are taking pay cuts. I tried to rework the budget and then told God I can’t–a budget is something you’re supposed to be able to follow! “You’ll have to do it,” was all I could tell Him.

Sixteen years of watching God grow this camp, and I have thought about Anne Voskamp’s book The Broken Way. How do you give to others from your own broken heart? That is what Anne asks.

I confess, I told God that if this camp were a ship, between saying goodbye to staff and trying to navigate the governor’s mandates, I feel like those of us who are left to serve are standing here with bail buckets, praying the ship doesn’t sink. I felt guilty for saying it, but He already knows, I have days…

Does that make sense?

I know it is in God’s hands. I know that we are His, the camp is His, and He is holding this whole wide world.

“So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Matthew 6:31,33

And then my husband got a call from people far away. They said that they have bail buckets too. They said they know God has us steering this ship, and He has them giving more generously because they can, so there’s a check in the mail to help balance our family budget. Other precious people walk in with gifts to keep the camp ship floating during this lean time. We never know how the provision will come, but it keeps coming just in time. God had solutions all planned out before we even entered 2020 with all its life changing, ministry altering , history making storms. He already knows what we are going to need before we need it. He knows what you need too.

You took what the enemy meant for evil, and You turn it for good.

We sang those words Sunday morning.

I believe it. Do you?

How is God working through your circumstances today?

I’d love to hear your God moments.

Praise God with me?

Dance in the rain with me?

He is always good.

I’m sharing this song today. The staff and students of my daughter’s school, North Central University, wrote it and began praising God with it just before the pandemic began. It is so fitting for today.

Photos courtesy of Camp JIM and Pixabay.

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