Friday, February 22, 2008

A new adventure begins!

I'm posting the letter that I'm sending to family & friends about the new ministry that I am joining. Only three days until I leave for Illinois!

Dear family & friends,

An exciting ministry opportunity has presented itself in my life and I can't wait to tell you about it.  I have decided to accept a position with Great Oaks Camp as their Program Director/Urban Youth Worker.  I am asking you to join me through prayer and finances as I take this next step.

One of my deepest desires is to be in Gospel ministry.  To share my faith with others.  To disciple young people in their faith.  To see lives transformed.  Hearts healed.  God glorified.  Throughout my life, this has taken different forms, but youth ministry is the common thread.  Urban youth ministry and camping ministry are both particularly dear to my heart.  Joining the staff of Great Oaks provides opportunities to engage in both ministries. 

Great Oaks Camp was established in 1972 as a ministry to the urban youth of Peoria. They believe building a child’s self-confidence, improving her attitude, developing his civility and citizenship, and helping her take personal responsibility first begins with a relationship with Jesus Christ. We nurture this relationship by offering low-income children a free week at camp during the summer and follow-up programs throughout the year.  

During the summer, my primary responsibility will be with summer camps.  In a safe, rural atmosphere, Great Oaks’ staff seeks to demonstrate the love of God to children who are surrounded by drugs, gangs, and domestic violence in their everyday lives. Great Oaks currently runs 7 weeks of Urban Youth camps each summer. Campers, ranging from 7-17 years old, attend age-specific and gender-specific weeks of camp. While at camp, youth participate in a wide range of activities, from archery to swimming to caring for animals in our petting zoo. Daily chapels are designed to be fun, while conveying to campers the message that they are unique, special, and created by God. Campers qualifying for free or reduced meals at school pay nothing to attend a week of camp. Great Oaks relies on contributors to sponsor kids for a free week of camp.  I will work with the summer staff to facilitate these camps.  My desire is that through camp, kids will encounter our Creator God in the midst of His beautiful creation.  Because the cabin groups are kept small (5-6 kids w/ 1 counselor), youth will develop close relationships with their counselor where it is safe for them to ask the tough questions about God and faith.

Believing a child is not fully reached, until he is discipled to live a Christ-honoring life, Great Oaks provides year-round programs in Peoria. After-school Bible clubs are the centerpiece of our follow-up programs, with weekly clubs focused on specific age groups.  Also important to follow-up is helping campers plug into neighborhood churches. This is often a struggle, and we hope to have more local churches partner with us to transport children in their communities to their regularly scheduled services. Throughout the school year, in addition to preparing for summer ministry, I will be working with these programs in Peoria.  In partnership with local churches, we will provide on-going discipleship for the youth.

My excitement grows daily as I consider my involvement with Great Oaks and the youth of Peoria.  Great Oaks will provide me with housing at the camp and a partial salary.  I am responsible for raising the additional funds to cover my salary.  Please consider joining my ministry through your support in prayer and finances.  
I need you.  Would you join me on this journey?  I need your partnership in the Gospel.  This ministry does not happen through the efforts of a few individuals, but rather, it is when a team of people join together in unity and God's love, that hundreds of low income youth encounter the love and saving grace of our Lord.  I need people like you to join my team.

My goal is to raise $1500/month.  This support, along with the partial salary provided by Great Oaks, will cover expenses such as: medical expenses, car related expenses, a student loan, retirement and living expenses.  My greatest need is for monthly tax deductible gifts of any amount.  One time, tax deductible gifts are also helpful.  If you would like to support me, please use the enclosed card to indicate your interest.

I'm asking that you would consider partnering with me as I begin this journey in serving the urban youth of Peoria.  I plan to begin my ministry with Great Oaks on February 26th. 

Grace and peace,


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