Contents Summer Reflections 2013
03 Summer Highlight from Rich 04 Rich’s Reflections 05Jerry’s Reflections 06 Staff Reflections 27 Mission Camp Macon reflections 29 Adult leaders reflections 31 Lake forest ranch News 32 Giving to lake forest ranch 33 Photo Reflections
Summer Highlights “Face-to-face” – Our special worship time on the third night of camp this year was entitled, “Face-to-Face.” In keeping with our message of “The Power of ONE”, we wanted the campers to have a deeper understanding of being one with believers and what God has called them to do all over the world. As a part of that evening worship we would show introductory videos of special ministries such as Amazima (Kisses from Katie). Also, we would Face-time or Skype missionaries on the other side of the planet to find out how we can pray for them. We got to converse face to face with missionaries from India, China, Ukraine, Thailand, and Mexico. It was so exciting, through modern technology, to see on the big screen former staff members and friends of LFR who are serving Jesus so far away from us. We would contact them at 9:15 pm our time and it would be the next morning for some of them – they could literally answer the question for us – “What will tomorrow be like?” Smile. After a short face to face conversation with them, our campers would go outside by cabins to designated areas in the dark with only the light of a tiki lamp (with adult leadership being led by Rich and Jerry) to pray for the “Face-to-Face” missionary and his/her work, to pray for other ministries and missionaries for whom they are burdened, and to pray for each other as the body of Christ. It was beautiful as lives were connected and radically impacted every week by this special time of prayer. When believers come together in prayer as ONE – it is transforming! You will read about many “Face-to-Face” blessings that our staff experienced in these pages.
Mission Camp Macon 2013 (the 10th anniversary) – One way to describe the effect of MCM once again this year is, “Macon a Difference.” Attendance was the highest ever during the week at the 8 kids camps that were all over Noxubee County and also at the huge youth sports camp that happened at LFR. The weather was perfect and the response for the week was deepening in Christ for so many of the Noxubee County kids. Much spiritual growth took place in the lives of our 80 + student missionaries. Christ deepened them so much. It was a blessing when one of our student missionaries realized that she was unsaved and she experienced new-birth in Christ during the week. The Family Night on the last night of the week was packed out in the Noxubee High School Gym. At the end over 100 students came forward during the invitation indicating that their lives were changed during the week. Bill Reif, our speaker and camp pastor for the week, then asked godly men and women in the audience to come forward and pray over each of these young people. It was wonderful! Read more about the week from some of our student missionaries on pg.27
New Creation Report – And More! Salvation decisions are so exciting! You will read about several of those in these reflections. There were campers redeemed at every single camp session! There were many salvation decisions during the course of our summer, but the following is so amazing too… there were 330 spiritual decisions in addition to conversions that were followed up, and there were 812 campers who grew in Christ significantly enough that his/ her counselor felt the need to follow up with materials and/or a letter at the end of their camp session. That means that out of our 1750 campers this summer, between spiritual decisions and spiritual growth follow up, the staff continued ministering to over 1200 campers this summer after the weeks of camp ended. That is unprecedented! And it is so in keeping with the LFR mission statement ~ “Building Relationships for Eternal Impact.”
The Power of ONE!
Rich Malone | Executive Director
Power of ONE! was our beautiful message for summer 2013. I capitalize “ONE” for emphasis and because it refers to our LORD. He is the ONE from Whom all power and authority comes. But how that relates to each of us has been the important message for our summer camp season. Hopefully it will be a message that goes far beyond our summer for many lives. Jesus’ prayer in John 17 is the longest prayer by our Lord Jesus Christ that is recorded in scripture. It was prayed in His disciples’ presence only moments before He headed to the Garden of Gethsemane with eleven of them and then to the cross. Clearly the timing of this prayer is significant. But the length of the prayer and the timing of it are not as much what captures our attention as the subject of His beautiful intercession for all of us. Jesus prayed for us to live perfectly as one with Him and with each other… just as He experienced perfect union with the Father. Is there really anything better than that? I want to pray this prayer every day! I want to ask God for an intimate union with Him and His people. We were given a taste of the power of ONE this summer. When we, His children, are living as one with Him and with each other, His glory is revealed and His power is released through us and all around us. For example, there is nothing more powerful than seeing a person “raised with Christ from the dead.” (Eph. 1:19-21;2:6) We had staff members tell us that this summer for the first time they were given the power and privilege of leading children and teens into new resurrection life with Christ. That is a wonderful display of the power of God. Just as Christ was raised from the dead there were over 100 campers this summer who experienced God’s power to raise them from spiritual death. Awesome! During the campfire service at the end of each week, 4
campers give their testimonies of what Christ has done in their lives during their time at LFR. There were so many sweet words and confessions over the summer of children and teens being saved and made alive in Christ during the camp weeks. One night a little eight year old girl started an expression that seemed humorous when I first heard it (I get to hear a lot of funny things that little children say – I can tell you some stories!), but this little girl stood up and said these words, “Jesus asked me into His heart this week.” My first thought was to correct this and explain that maybe it was she who invited Jesus into her heart. But then I realized (in fact, I believe this thought came directly from the Father), that this is exactly what happens when a person is saved – we are invited into the heart of Christ and we say “yes.” “If any man be IN CHRIST he is a new creation…” Amen! I love that!! Thank you for praying for us this summer. That was so important! God did amazing things in and through our staff and camp leadership. Lives were transformed and hearts were mended by the awesome power of ONE! As you read about your many answers to prayer in this magazine, understand that the victories won here were through the Body of Christ being ONE – Christ the head and we, His body, as one displaying His glory and power. The intercession of saints like you on our behalf is just as significant as the messengers speaking face to face with the children and students. Your connection with the Father and with us through prayer was a huge encouragement and it was used by God enormously. Again, thanks… now read the rest of the story with joy!
lfr2013 Jerry Jackson Assistant Director
in May 2008 Jackie and I moved to Lake Forest Ranch.
During the past five years and three months (six summers) we have had the opportunity to work and serve with so many incredible people. This has been such a wonderful time of growth as God has worked in and through our lives. Watching God work in the lives of the college students and older teens who serve at LFR as camp counselors, workstaff and support staff each summer has been such a blessing. Seeing them learn to trust and rely on God when they are asked to give of themselves beyond what they are capable of doing apart from His strength and wisdom is, in part, what God used to challenge me to step into a new roll of ministry that began in August. During the fall of 2012, Sue Cherney, the Executive Director of Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth, Inc. (SCSCY) shared with me that she planned to retire sometime during 2013. She said she had been praying for over a year for God’s leadership and direction for timing and for who would be the right person for her to suggest to the SCSCY Board of Directors to become her successor. She stated that over and over God pointed her towards me. As I am writing this I am struggling to find words to express to you how honored I felt. God REALLY surprised me with this. I asked her to continue praying for God’s direction, and that I would do the same, and when the time came, if she still felt I was the person for that position, we would talk again. I was honored and humbled and also knew that the decision for a successor would be made by the board of directors and that God may lead them in a different direction. In late April I received a call from the SCSCY Board of Directors and was told they were advertising for a new Executive Director and they would like for me to consider interviewing for the position. A few weeks later, in May, I met with the Board for the interview. Then in June I received a call telling me the Board had voted unanimously to offer me the position. Jackie and I spent many hours praying for direction. At that time I was reading in Exodus 33 and Jackie and I took Ex 33:15 as our prayer verse: “God, if Your presence does not go with us, do not lead us up from here.” Through so many amazing ways God assured us that His presence was already there and all we had to do was trust Him and show up. I wish I had the time and space to tell you all of the ways God was so very sweet and kind in blessing us with affirmation after affirmation that He was leading us in this journey.
One of the many blessings and affirmations came when Jackie Granberry, the Vice President of Hinds Community College, sent a message to (my) Jackie saying “I heard you and Jerry may be moving back to Raymond. If you do, please don’t talk with anyone else. We want you back at Hinds.” Jackie has accepted a position working at Hinds Community College in Raymond. Southern Christian Services for Children and Youth is such an amazing faith-based organization and ministry. They have many programs and services for vulnerable and hurting children and families. Their programs and services are all over the state of Mississippi. They provide therapeutic group homes, therapeutic foster care, special needs adoptions, a group home for homeless teens who have been living on the streets, independent living skills training for older teens, training for social workers and therapists and more. The website gives a more complete idea of the wide range of ministries that SCSCY offers “www.scscy.org” God has truly placed me in a position of having to trust and rely on Him every day for strength and wisdom to do what is far beyond what I can do on my own. Father, thank You for the counselors, workstaff and support staff who have taught me during the past six summers that You are the God of the impossible.
erin davies Counselor | starkville, ms
abby good Counselor | macon, ms
y prayer for this summer was that the Holy Spirit would before I stepped onto Lake Forest Ranch to start my summer as a m continually speak through me; that the words that proceeded camp counselor, I’ll be honest, I was terrified. Terrified that it was up to me to do and say all the right things and it was just a matter of time before I’d stumble and fall. I often forget His hands have always been and will always be here to catch me. I was reminded of the power of faith while helping a young boy climb the 50 ft tree to go down the zip line. The first two times he climbed up the ladder, and before he even touched the tree he broke down into tears. He was afraid he would slip and that the rope wouldn’t be strong enough to keep him from hitting the ground. Everyone around me was yelling words of encouragement up at him including me. I started getting frustrated because I thought, “If he would only listen to me, he would feel better.” There were at least 10 people shouting, “Keep going, you can do it!” while others were yelling, “Come down if you’re just going to stand there!”. The last message was louder in his ears and he slowly made his way back down. When his feet hit the ground he expressed that he wanted to make it to the top so badly but the fear paralyzed him. Later that night his mom came up to me and said that after I left, he climbed all the way up the tree and went down the zip line. I was shocked that the boy who wouldn’t even touch the tree finally got the courage to make it the whole 50 feet. I asked her what words she used to get him to keep going and what she said was not what I expected. She pulled him aside and prayed that God would help him overcome his fears. Then she told everyone to be silent and for him to just keep looking up. The staff member at the top was the only one encouraging him so his eyes wouldn’t be as tempted to look down. He put his hand on the first staple in the tree, looked up and didn’t stop moving until he reached the platform. This was such a beautiful picture of how looking toward and trusting the Lord releases the power that fear has over our lives. The boy knew deep down that the rope was strong enough, but he listened to others and started to believe the lies. I even thought that my words would be enough to motivate him, but all I needed to do was step aside and watch Him work in His timing.
from my mouth would be completely from Him and nothing of me. Through the majority of the summer this prayer was something in the forefront of my mind. Then I began to listen to the lies of the Butcher, “You are a failure. You have no purpose being here. You cannot save even one child.” Going into the ninth week of camp, none of the girls in my cabin throughout the entire summer had accepted Christ into their lives. I began to believe those lies of the Butcher; that I was a failure as a counselor because I did not lead even one small child to Jesus. “But God,” the two best words ever, whispered to me the truth. I cannot save even one human being. HE is the one who saves them, HE is where my dependence should be, and I am only the planter. My heart changed from wanting to save a child to showing them love so they can see the love of the Father. Then the ninth week of camp began. One of the girls in my cabin asked me to come with her to speak to the camp speaker the end of the first night. During that session she opened her heart to us and shared how she had never wanted to accept Christ as her Savior because of the hurt that other men have caused in her life. In that moment the Holy Spirit filled my mouth with words for this sweet girl that I would have never known to say. The next day the camp speaker gave an invitation for those who wanted to talk to their counselor about asking for Jesus to be Savior, and that sweet girl came back to talk to me. She began to share with me about why she decided to come back during the invitation, “Abby, I just want you to know that I thought about what you and the speaker told me. This morning when I woke up I realized that the Father really does love me and I asked that He would be my Savior and the Lord of my life.” Those words made me want to leap and shout for joy! God completely worked in this girl’s life and I only planted the seed. He was the one that did all of the saving. He used me to plant the seed and spoke through me with words that were completely from Him. Glory to God!
bethany griffin assistant Worskstaff manger | ringgold, ga
“M iss Bethany! I brought this for you!” I remember a sweet girl in my cabin saying to me last summer as she handed me a handmade ankle bracelet. I thanked her and tied her gift around my ankle. I wore it for the rest of the summer and thought of her often as God continued to teach me through the end of my first season at Lake Forest. Amazingly, it never fell off and survived a semester at school and 5 months in Europe with me. Every time I looked at my foot and noticed the then tattered yellow and green bracelet, I was reminded of God’s promises and what he taught me in that season. When Mr. Rich wrote me while I was living in Austria, he asked if I would consider being the assistant workstaff manager this summer. I looked at my anklet and remembered the beauty of last summer and wrote back that I wanted to be a counselor again, but fortunately, God had better things in store. Ephesians 2:7 promises that God will “show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” The past 8 weeks at Lake Forest as the assistant to the workstaff manager have been nothing less than the unfolding of His immeasurable riches. God specifically revealed this the last camp of first half, when Mr. Rich asked me to fill in for a counselor who needed time at home because of an illness. I felt so unprepared as I walked into her cabin with my blankets and clothes, trying to remember what it was like to have a cabin full of little girls with hungry hearts and questioning minds. Because this was the last week of first half and the last camp the first half workstaff family had together, I began the week feeling especially sad and left out. When campers began arriving, I started recognizing faces from last summer and running to greet girls I hadn’t seen for a year. One of them was the girl who had given me the bracelet I still wore. Completely at the end of myself and wishing to be fellowshipping with the workstaffers I had grown to love so much, I sat on the dock with a camper just praying for God to speak and not me. I thought I knew what I wanted, but in that moment, God gave me immeasurably more than I could ask or imagine as I got to see one of His daughters accept His love for the first time. A week or so later, back on workstaff, I received a letter from that girl expressing her thankfulness for her week at Lake Forest and sharing her new joy with me. I felt something at the bottom of the envelope she sent and read, “I want you to have my anklet. Wear it and remember me!” I almost wept with joy at the realization that now, a whole summer later, I get to wear two anklets as my very own rainbow of the promise of God’s faithfulness. He is good.
Eric Anderson Counselor | Waveland, MS
We were only halfway through the summer, but God had already shown me more than I could hope to put into words. One of the biggest truths I’ve learned this summer, however, is this; everyone has a story. No matter how many camps I go through, I’m always blown away by the lives of the kids that come into my cabin each week. The Lake Forest Ranch mission statement is, “Building Relationships for an Eternal Impact.” I’ve been blessed this summer with so many relationships with so many wonderful people - both staff and campers, and through those relationships God has shown me the truth of that statement.
Every person that I’m blessed with the opportunity of meeting has an amazing story, filled with struggles and triumphs that I don’t think I’ll ever fully be able to understand. Every work of God is beautiful to behold. Pouring my life into my fellow staff and the campers this summer has been absolutely exhausting. However, every second of it has been worth it. Every time I feel like quitting, I’m able to look to God to provide strength that only He can provide - His joy. “But go your way till the end. And you shall rest and stand in your allotted place at the end of the days.” Daniel 12:13
Abby letson Counselor | birmingham, al
Usually on the second or third night of every camp, the guest
speaker does an invitation and asks all of the counselors to go to the back and wait for responses. During the first couple of camps, I was excited about invitation nights and stood proudly in the back of the room as if I were a super counselor and had all of the powerful words to save all of my campers. After a couple of camps of standing in the back without any campers responding to the invitation, the Lord really began to work on my heart and show me how prideful and selfish I was. I realized really quickly how powerless I was and how I could do absolutely nothing on my own. After this, I honestly began dreading the invitations. I went from feeling like I had the power to save people from hell, to feeling like I would falsely lead them to Christ. I felt like if one of my campers came back to talk to me, I would mess their salvation up. In my mind, their salvation was up to me and my words. During the first camp of the 2nd half of the summer, the Lord sweetly showed me how completely wrong I was. Another counselor mentioned in our staff meeting that she had talked with one of my girls, and that she had a lot of questions and felt like she was ready to become a Christian. That night was our invitation night, and I had a feeling that she would come back and respond to the gospel. She did. My heart was beating out of my chest as I saw her stand up and come to the back. We walked outside together, and sat down and talked about what was on her heart. She told me that she had heard a lot about God, but had never responded to His grace. The Holy Spirit totally flowed through me to share the gospel with her, and she was in awe of the price that Christ paid for her. I told her that I was going to pray for her, and that when I was finished, I wanted her to talk to God and tell Him what was on her heart. She immediately began weeping and telling me that she didn’t know how and didn’t know the right words to say. I reassured her that God just wanted to hear her and loved to listen to her heart. When I finished praying, she began praying and continued talking to the Lord for a good 7 or 8 minutes. She told the Lord exactly what she was feeling, and told Him how sorry she was that Jesus had to die for all of the bad things she had done. She told Him that she wanted to be new and clean. It was probably the most beautiful and pure prayer that I have ever heard. When she finished, she looked up at me with a huge smile and said, “I have no idea what I just said!” It was awesome. She was in complete awe of the Holy Spirit giving her the words to say. This ten-year-old absolutely loved to talk and never had a quiet moment, but when she was finished praying, she was completely speechless and couldn’t explain the joy that she was feeling in her heart. It was so cool, and the Lord moved in such a powerful way. The Lord breathed life into her, just as it says in Ezekiel 37:5-- “This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life”-- and I could see it so clearly. I was totally amazed and in awe of how the Spirit was working. God didn’t need me AT ALL in this process. I praise Him for choosing to let me be a vessel, but I was completely worthless without His might. He was so sweet to gently show me how worthless I was without Him, and I am so thankful for His faithfulness.
hunter sandoval Counselor | decatur, al
J r./Sr. High Camp 1 started off as all other camps this summer have started off: me standing over Jenna (Administrative
Assistant) begging for a certain age group for the camp. For the first youth camp of the summer, that just happened to be 15-16 year olds; however, when Jenna called out what age group I would have in my cabin it turned out to be the 13-14 year olds. I knew what age group I wanted. I knew that my best ministry would be to the 15-16 year olds. God knew better. Mr. Rich said one thing that afternoon that completely rocked me. “The very reason you are here to minister this summer could be standing on that porch right now.” I was overcome by the Spirit, moved to tears knowing that an incredible ministry would occur throughout this camp. Later that afternoon as I was meeting with the adult leaders of my campers I found out that one guy in my cabin spent the entire ride to camp saying, “I’m looking for something; I don’t really know what it is, but will I find it here this week?” Immediately I knew my reason for being at camp this summer was for one of my campers that week. On the surface we had practically nothing in common, but deep down he was struggling with the very same things that I struggled with for so long in my walk with Christ. When God revealed to me that this camper was put in my cabin for a special reason, I began to try everything in my power to get this guy one-on-one. I was so anxious to hear his heart and his struggles, but again the Lord had different plans. Every time I wanted to meet with him he was busy, and every time he wanted to hang out with me I had to work. After three days of struggling to get him alone I had almost lost hope. I just knew that my timing was right, and I missed the opportunity. After all the activities on the next to last night of camp we returned to the cabin and he approached me with tears in his eyes and asked me if we could go outside on the porch to talk. My soul rejoiced. The Lord in His perfect timing had moved in the life of this 14 year old guy, and I got to be a part of His work. It was midnight (way too late to be out on the porch talking), but the brokenness that comes before growth was so evident in his eyes, and I had to hear what he wanted to say. Over the next hour and a half he poured out his heart and shared how he had struggled to experience the joy of his salvation for the past few years. He told me about how hard he worked to maintain and revive the joy that he had right when Christ entered into his heart. For years he thought the way to experience that joy was to go to church, read his Bible, pray all the time, etc. All these good things had not given him the joy which comes from the Spirit, but had actually drained him of any joy. That is my story, spending years trying to be good enough and trying to do enough good things to experience the true joy of being one with Christ and letting his Spirit live within me. It was such an encouraging experience to share how the Lord delivered me from that lifestyle into a life of surrender to the Spirit. After sharing my story and encouraging him to surrender himself daily to the leading of the Holy Spirit, I was able to pray that the Lord would make this a reality in his life. I had never seen such a relieved and refreshed face; it was truly a work of God who came to completely fill up this 14 year old guy’s heart. I am so thankful for the Lord’s sovereignty and perfect plan. I pray just like my camper friend did; “I just want everyone to experience this feeling of freedom.” “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” 2 Corinthians 3:17 9
allison hall Senior counselor | cleveland, ms
“grace”- not receiving a penalty we so rightly deserve,
it is easy to receive but often more difficult to give. God is continually teaching me about grace. Thankfully, He was able to get through to me in a frustrating, yet gentle way this summer. The Lord drew me towards an understanding of the grace He gives us by allowing me to instill that important value into a camper. My Bible study group that particular week consisted of nineteen 12 and 13 year olds, so of course they got a little rambunctious at times. But no matter how loud it got in that room full of kids, one boy kept falling asleep. Try to imagine how distracting it was trying to teach an important Bible study, and one person is passed out in the chair directly across from you. I could not keep teaching. Over and over, we would wake him up until it began to embarrass him. The first day of Bible study, we got up and did jumping jacks to wake everyone up. We picked on the boy a little bit and joked about how he needed to go to bed earlier or he would have to teach the lesson for us the next day. Throughout the rest of the lesson, he struggled to keep his eyes open and he dozed off several more times, but for the most part, he really tried his best to stay awake. The next day went about the same, except he began falling asleep even earlier into the lesson. We called out his name, told him to sit up repeatedly, and asked him to take his sunglasses off. Again, we informed him that if he did not continue to pay attention, he would lead the Bible study by himself the following day. When that did not work, we asked him to stand up for the remaining time of the Bible study. After Bible study was a break before team competition. Being a team leader, I should have been there early, ready to paint my team up, scream and shout our cheer, and pump them up for the events of that morning. However, I was talking to a very upset camper and showed up about 15 minutes late for team competition. My group was already at their event for that morning and waiting to hear instructions on the game. The same boy from Bible study was in my team competition group, and would not let me live it down. During the entire team competition, he was giving me heat for being late. It frustrated me that he assumed I was being irresponsible instead of tending to the emotional needs of a camper, which made me even more upset with him. Although I felt like we were joking earlier in the week about the Bible study consequence, I was so frustrated with him by that point; I was definitely going to make him teach the next morning. As I walked back to my cabin before lunch, I thought and talked under my breath, “Oh he most certainly will lead our Bible study tomorrow, and he better do it right because I’m going to show him what he deserves!” Then I felt God say, so gently and sweetly, “Nope, you’re not going to make him do that. Even though you may think he deserves this, 10
you’re going to teach him grace by leading the Bible study in his place.” I wrestled with God for a minute because I wanted him to get what I thought he deserved. Instead, God used it as a sweet moment of drawing me back to who He is. He is a graceful God that was so willing to pay the ultimate penalty for us; therefore we are able to demonstrate God’s grace to others when we feel that they should receive a penalty that they deserve. As my partner and I prayed the next morning before Bible study, we knew that the Lord allowed this to happen for a greater purpose than we knew. We were so overjoyed that due to this situation, we were able to go into even more depth on God’s grace. As we allowed our camper to begin leading the Bible study just as he thought he would have to do, we stopped him and explained to him that because of grace, he would not have to pay the consequence he deserved. Instead, we would become his substitute and take his place just as Christ did. As a result of our response to the direction God was leading us in, that camper was able to understand God’s grace, began to analyze his own sinful heart, and joyfully ended the week as my new brother in Christ.
julie lowell Counselor | huntsville, al
i knew that at some point this summer God would bring
me to the end of myself to realize how much I needed Him, but I didn’t know just how quickly that would happen. First of all, I should let you know that I like to have a plan, and I like for everything to happen just like I want it to. I had Sunshine Club the first three camps, which was so much fun, but so frustrating at times because rarely did things happen by my plan (thankfully!). One day during Kids Camp B, I did two one-on-ones that were completely discouraging. Every time I brought up Jesus, they would kind of answer and then say, “Oh look at that butterfly!” or “One time my dog ran away and then it died.” I wanted to shake them and tell them I had awesome things to say if they would just LISTEN! It took time for me to realize God was already doing awesome things and didn’t need my help. During staff meeting, I told everyone my kids never listened and it was frustrating me to no end. That night, the speaker shared the gospel with the kids, and one of my campers I had a one-on-one with that day came to the back with tears in her eyes and told me, “Miss Julie, I need Jesus to be in my heart.” I almost started crying; while I talked to her I was praising God for everything He had done in her little heart all week without me having a clue! That was reminder number one that God is completely sovereign and so in control and I am NOT. Later, I talked to one of my other campers and she told me she wanted to ask Jesus into her heart but wanted to be with her family when she did it. I didn’t want to push that matter, so I just said a prayer for her and said goodnight. The next day I had a one-on-one with her. I asked her some questions, and I could tell she had a really firm foundation and totally understood what it meant to become a Christian. I knew she told me she wasn’t ready to do it at camp though, so I let the subject drift to what’s important to a seven year old – favorite things. In the middle of her asking me my favorite flavor of ice cream, favorite color, favorite shape (apparently, you need one of those), she jumped out of the swing and said, “Actually, I want to ask Jesus into my heart right now!” We talked about it and she went on to pray one of the most beautiful prayers I’ve ever heard. It was so incredible! That was reminder number two that I am not actually in control, and Jesus is handling everything for me. Praise the Lord! That was definitely one of those weeks that started with me coming to the end of myself, and then realizing that’s exactly where God needs us to be – completely surrendered.
Jamie sexton workstaff manager | dothan, aL
a beloved pattern of my weekly schedule, I sit drinking in the
richness of both my warm cup of coffee as well as the richness of Mama Sandy’s words, pouring from the depth of her Bible study. I soak in a deeper understanding of who I am in and apart from Christ each morning under her guidance. Her words, gentle and sweet, always directly hit the target of both my mind and my heart, like an arrow that shoots swiftly and surely; I stand changed from when I first sat down on her comfortable couch. This particular construction differed not from any other morning at the Malones’. I learn of the different circles that consist of ourself: the body, the soul, the spirit. Each member possesses requirements and needs, and while the body is the physical that surrounds both the soul and the spirit, the spirit remains the very core of our being. For me, the evidence of Christ’s provision in meeting my physical needs is evident, yet more emphatically, Christ satisfied and continues to satisfy the need of my spirit by His death on the cross, my true need. My soul however perpetually retains needs, in which Christ perpetually satisfies. Having the disposition of a “Feeler,” my soul often craves the attention of others, especially in pleasing others, meeting their needs, and receiving their affirmation in return. I remember at this time struggling with thoughts and emotions within my soul. These feelings spoke that unless I saw myself meeting others’ needs and receiving affirmation, then I was not “walking in the Spirit.” As a result of these emotional untruths, I would try to work and strive to please others more, yet I felt more unrest and became consistently more frustrated at myself for not meeting these standards. Worse, I wanted most of all to meet these standards that God had for me, the work He made me to complete. Praise the Lord He separated that last thought as a lie, because it is a standard that the enemy pushes down on me.
I sit on the edge of the dock this night, regarding the stars and dipping my feet in and out of the lake. I clearly remember at this moment a thought entering my mind to dip my feet into the water one more time and to watch the ripples in the water. I watched how from the center the water moved outward in a circle, affecting all the water surrounding the core. Nothing remains the same. The Lord then spoke clearly to my thoughts and emotions how He moves at my core, my spirit, and moves like a ripple outward. Psalm 42:7 says, “Deep calls out to deep. All your waves and waterfalls have swept over me,” and the verse Romans 8:14, “The Spirit ministers to our spirit so that we can call Him ‘Abba, Father’,” both spoke so much truth to me on that dock, that by no accounts am I the source from which life flows. Instead, because of God’s grace, everything that I do flows from a source that never runs dry. The truth, it is not up to me, in my soul, to please others, and people’s affirmation is not a measurement of how much the Spirit uses me. He pulled me out of that lie that I had a standard to meet and a work to accomplish. Two days later, Mama Sandy introduced me to a close friend of hers named LaFon who does a ministry called prayer painting. She rarely knows whom she paints for until after she has painted the piece and after the Lord directs to whom she should give the painting. Every stroke of her brush paints only by leading of the Holy Spirit. During staff meeting, LaFon calls out my name and hands me a painting. To give some background, LaFon and I have never prior met, nor have I told her what was going on in my life at the moment. I look at the painting - still in shock that she called out my name - and I see a cross on the far left of the painting. Arraying from the cross are these ripples, spreading through the rest of the painting in many colors. With just one look, I knew how that painting captured so many of the lessons the Lord had been revealing to me. I love the Lord’s surprises. Just to reveal more of the Lord’s surprise, LaFon painted that picture on the same evening that I sat on the dock.
Benny malone Counselor | macon, ms
this summer has been a summer of making real to my heart
the truths that I have always thought I understood. One truth in particular is what it really means for my Father’s strength to be made perfect in my weakness. He says to Paul in 2 Corinthians 12:9, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” I have learned, to a great extent this summer, that weakness is never pretty. I used to take that verse lightly, thinking that weakness was probably me just getting discouraged and God jumping in there to make me feel better. That’s not the case, to say the least. My weakness, as it turns out, seemed to be the only thing convincing enough for me to finally step out of the way and watch Father do His work. One night in particular, we were right into the second half of the summer and were on our way to “Face-to-Face”. “Faceto-Face” was the “LFR After Dark” event for this summer, and was a very sweet time for the children to open up and pray for one another as a cabin and as one body in Christ. Well, all my “Face-to-Face” ministry times up to this point were extremely challenging, and they just didn’t seem to really speak to anyone. I started the summer off excited to jump in there and really bless some kids, but I got quite discouraged really quickly. This particular night I was extremely tired, worn out, feeling spiritually dry, and figuring out that I seriously had nothing to say to these kids who, up to this point, were my most unreceptive group yet. In short, I just felt dead, frustrated, and utterly lost. God didn’t. In fact just the opposite- He was about to show off for the first time. I was honestly crying out in desperation, “I need You!” We had just taken a seat, and I had hardly gotten a mouthful of words out before the Father took hold of the situation and tore down the walls of every person in my cabin. I sat there watching as eight young men poured their hearts out to one another, crying and praying for each other, without any thought of embarrassment or trying to be cool. Healing happened that night in the lives of many boys, and literally all I did was sit there, weep, and be amazed at the glory of our Father. He didn’t need me there to give knowledge, or speak life into those boys’ lives that night, or any time for that matter. He can do it all on His own, but nonetheless still delights in using us (a mystery to me, to say the least). That night was a night for me to realize that truth, and also realize the flip side- that I need Him desperately, more desperately than I ever knew before, and for every single aspect of my life. His grace was totally sufficient for me in my tired, frustrated, seemingly hopeless, state of mind. His power was made perfect in my weakness- not by turning my weakness into strength, but by showing up and doing the job I never could have done in the first place, in the middle of the weakness that brought me to end of myself. 13
lfr2013 christian good Counselor | macon, ms
g od continued to lay on my heart for weeks the importance
of love. It’s a simple four letter word that is one of the hardest fruits of the Spirit to display in your life. The verse that continued to convict my heart to love my campers increasingly is found in 1 Corinthians 12:31, “Now eagerly desire the greater gifts. And yet I will show you the most excellent way.” Without the context of the verse, we can easily look over this portion of Scripture. 1 Corinthians 12 talks about the gifts of the Spirit that God blesses us with in our ministry. Then, 1 Corinthians 13 is described as the “love chapter.” In context, 1 Corinthians 12:31 allows us to see that our ministry is meaningless without love. The apostle Paul reveals the fact that love is EVERYTHING in ministry. I shared this thought with the staff during our meeting before the camp following our mid-summer break. So, for the next camp, I was going to love the campers with God’s love, not mine. I experienced the fruit of God’s love firsthand by witnessing a kid genuinely and fully surrender his life to God. After praying for God’s presence in Pow Wow at staff meeting, I was expectant for God to show up. What happened next was fully the work of the Holy Spirit. During the Pow Wow, the speaker asked the campers to go to the back if they needed to talk to their counselor. One of my campers, Sid, walked out with me and sat on a bench underneath the basketball goal. I simply asked him, “What’s on your mind?” Without any hesitation, he began to weep. I have never witnessed the Holy Spirit convict someone with as much passion as He did with Sid. He told me that he felt an overwhelming feeling of guilt and weight on his chest that brought him to tears. I knew that the Holy Spirit was present in every word and that He was directing me to teach the gospel covered in love. The biblical story of the Prodigal Son came to mind immediately. Then I asked Sid to pray and tell God about his love for Him, to ask forgiveness for his sins, and to speak his heart to the Lord. He prayed silently to God asking the Holy Spirit to enter into his life, and at that moment, Sid surrendered his life to God. After his prayer, I prayed for Him that he would experience God-given joy in Jesus’ name. Immediately after I prayed, Sid told me, “I just want to jump up and down for joy.” God answers prayers. The Holy Spirit made him alive at that moment. It wasn’t about reading your Bible, praying, or being a good person... Sid experienced God’s love and responded to His call to have a relationship with Jesus. After I experienced this joy with him, Sid asked the question, “Now what?” I was then given the opportunity to tell Him about the intimate relationship that God desires for us to have with Him. This testimony of God’s work in and through my life started and ended with love- a four letter word that makes all the difference. God really does answer our prayers, and He puts Scriptures on our hearts for a reason. To Him be the glory!
abby gifford Counselor | clinton, ms
my prayer for this summer was that I would learn to give control
over to the Lord in every aspect of my life. I prayed that He would have complete control over the big and small things every day. Sometimes when we refuse to give all of our control to Him, He quickly teaches us that without His strength we are nothing. Going into the fifth week of the summer, I found myself extremely sick and tired. I had little to no patience along with feeling very dry spiritually. The girls in my cabin were all from very different backgrounds, so I was questioning how they would ever be able to relate to one another. I was questioning the Lord how He would be able to take all of these girls from different walks of life and give them common ground. That week I felt God the least in my own walk and He showed up so big in the lives of my girls! I had no control at all, but He had complete control. The night of “Face-to-Face”d the girls in my cabin experienced the Body of Christ in what I believe was to be one of the sweetest moments of my summer. This face-to-face moment was a time of complete surrender for me and for my girls. We shared struggles that were never spoken of before, we talked about sins we were convicted of, we were able to encourage each other, affirm one another, and simply lift each other up in prayer. The Lord was in full control and worked beautifully in all of our lives when I least expected Him to. These girls had nothing in common, but they have the most important thing in common: Jesus.
ashley hudson counselor | dayton, tn
during teen camp 1, I was really nervous when I found out I was going to have 14-16 year olds. I look like I am somewhere between fourteen and sixteen myself, instead of nineteen. Most of my campers had lots of questions about God, heaven, miracles, and life in general. I remember all six of my girls, but the one that stood out was Katelyn. We had our one-on-one outside on the porch where Katelyn had lots of questions ranging from, “Is there cotton candy in heaven?” to “Do you think Jesus really performed miracles?”. I did my best to answer her questions; I did not have answers to the issue of cotton candy. Needless to say, I felt like the one-on-one had been a waste of time. After Katelyn left at the end of that camp, I sent her a Bible because she told me that she did not have one. A few weeks later I got a letter from her thanking me for the Bible and telling me that she is now my sister in Christ! It was a great reminder that God is in control, and that His word does not return void.
lfr2013 Megan withrow Counselor | nesbit, ms
this summer has definitely been one for the books. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I drove down that long gravel road on arrival day, and saw the staff standing outside the office awaiting everyone’s arrival. I was scared to death. All I wanted was to turn the car around and go home. But after the first week, I already felt like I was a part of the family. LFR has that effect on people. The people here make you feel welcome and that you belong. I started to realize that I wasn’t trying to be part of the LFR family; I was already a part of it. After knowing a former staff member for only 2 weeks, we instantly became friends. She gave me the best advice that I would not only use at LFR for the summer, but also for my everyday life after summer. She told me to be vulnerable and let people into your life to not only see the good part of you, but the bad and ugly as well. So I took her advice and ran with it. As I shared my testimony and asked people to pray for me, I began to see that being vulnerable was definitely worth it. I saw that others actually care about me, my story, and what I have to say. At first, I thought it was just them trying to be nice and make a connection with me, but God opened my eyes and showed me that He’s the reason why these people are this way. He is the reason for people loving me and caring for me even when they don’t know me. He is the reason why this staff cared. He is the reason why they were so kind and loving towards anyone and everyone. Not just towards me. And He definitely made me one of those people this summer. God transformed me into a completely different person during my time at LFR. He is making me into that person that I always desired to be. He brought wonderful godly people into my life that I cherish and value so incredibly much. He placed me exactly where I needed to be this summer, with the people I needed to be with. I never thought I could be so happy in a place where I knew no one, and then end up with 70+ new family members through Christ. God has shown me that opening up my heart to people can reflect His goodness and His glory. He is the reason for all my wonderful memories, joy, happiness, and love this summer. My life reflects His love, His faithfulness, and His beauty. It was nothing that I could have done to make that happen, except by living my life through Him by completely surrendering myself to Him. My prayers have definitely been answered this summer. God is seriously so good.
lfr2013 nathan sims Counselor | hattiesburg, ms
god’s grace and mercy are indescribable. The fact that He would
send His son to take the punishment for our sins is incredible. Yet so many times, we turn away from His will and disobey Him. Even in our sin and disobedience, He still loves us and shows us grace and mercy. This is the lesson I felt the Spirit leading me to teach one of my campers. The boy came from a home where both parents are deceased, his father in the last year, and he now lives with his aunt and uncle. He caused a lot of trouble by bullying other campers and disrespecting everyone, including me. Other members of the staff came to me about instances where he was rude and mean to other campers. I then assigned to him the punishment of filling a trash bag with pine cones, also known as pine cone duty. As we walked to the cabin to get the trash bag, he began to cry and said that he was being singled out and he was just responding to the bullying he received from other campers. He said he was raised to retaliate when he was picked on. I read to him about turning the other cheek from Matthew 6 in Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. He said, “Well, I must be going to hell then.” I asked him if he knows Christ and he said, “Yes.” Then I explained that even though we do bad things, God forgives us. He asked why he had to pick up pine cones, and I told him there were still consequences to disobeying and disrespecting others. In that moment, I felt the Spirit telling me to show the camper grace and mercy. I asked him what we deserve for sinning and he said, “Hell.” I then asked him why we don’t go to hell if we are Christians, and he said, “Because Jesus died for us.” I explained to him that Jesus dying for us was mercy, because we don’t get what we deserve, which is death. Then we talked about how, along with mercy, we also receive grace, because we are able to have a relationship with God forever, which is something we definitely don’t deserve. I then asked him what he deserved for bullying other campers. He said that he deserved to pick up pine cones. I said, “Yes you do, but you’re not going to.” He looked at me with a confused look on his face as tears were still in his eyes. I explained to him that I was going to show him mercy and grace by letting him go back to the pool. Then I told him that not only was he free to go, but I was going to pick up the bag of pine cones for him. As he walked to the pool, he turned back to help me pick up a few pine cones, which showed me that the Spirit was moving in his heart. Later that night, he asked if he could talk to me one-on-one. I told him we could talk the next day. For devotion, I used the example of the pine cones to explain to the other campers in my cabin about grace. The next day, the camper asked me why God gives us grace. That question led to a discussion about mercy, grace, forgiveness, love, and other topics that definitely showed a work of the Spirit in this boy’s life. At the end of our talk, he said that he knew the Holy Spirit would give him the strength to be nice to people who are mean to him. Multiple people on staff told me that he completely changed. The best part about this story is that none of this happened because of my actions. The Holy Spirit used me and worked in the boy’s heart to teach him a lesson that changed his life and showed him the love, mercy, and grace of God.
karen chan Counselor | grenada, ms
coming into the summer, I had little to no idea what my counselor
position would hold. I had expectations of perfect, church-going kids who grew up in polite, hospitable households and who respected anyone they came into contact with. I didn’t exactly have the mindset that kids at young ages faced so many difficult situations in their short lifespan. I guess I could say that I didn’t expect for kids to have backgrounds that would make them take their anger out on others. God definitely rocked my expectations in the best way. During one camp, I had a full cabin of 10 girls. Right when I met them, I automatically fell in love with each of them. They were all getting along wonderfully, and I guess I didn’t think anything could go wrong. During the first full day of camp, a couple of the girls got into a little argument. I just brushed that little fight off and tried not to worry. I trusted my girls, so I felt comfortable with them on their own while I did one-on-one’s, worked during recreation, or ran quick errands. But as the day went on, the girls continued to fight and argue with one another. Therefore, my solution was to be gentle with them and to tell them to be nice and stop fighting. Then, the next day, the worst argument broke out while I was getting ready for supper. I heard screaming, but I couldn’t hear the girls very clearly, so I didn’t think anything about it. I thought they were just all talking really loudly. When I came out after about 10 minutes, one girl was packing her bags and expressing that she was leaving because she couldn’t handle being bullied and fighting all the time anymore. I had to talk to each of my girls individually and calm them down, and after that argument, they calmed down for the next couple of days and began to get along again. Then on the last full day of camp, it all happened again. I came back to the cabin from our Adult Leader Meeting to another huge argument. But this time, I was so sick of breaking these fights apart that I didn’t know what to do anymore. Finally, I realized that the whole time I was relying on myself and not relying on Christ to show me how to love these kids and handle each situation with His guidance. Nothing in me wanted to love these kids the way that 18
Christ loves them. Therefore, it was at my weakest moment when I just simply prayed, “God, I can’t do this anymore because I’m going to continue to fail, but I know that you sure can. Reveal Yourself to me. I give it all to You.” I realized how stupid I was to try to handle each situation on my own. And right when I stepped into the cabin, my youngest camper of the week had a simple answer from God to my cry out to Him. I came into the cabin and saw her trying to resolve the problem, except instead of her just yelling at the girls and trying to do it all on her own, she was reading Scripture out to the girls. She said, “God doesn’t want us to fight like this anymore. Luke 6:27 says, ‘But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you . . .’ Even though we aren’t getting along very well, fighting back and yelling at each other isn’t going to solve the problem. God wants us to be nice to each other even when one of us isn’t being treated with kindness. We are called to love each other just as Christ loved us--loving even when you’re treated horribly and even when it’s hard to love.” After I heard this sweet little girl say all of that, I just began to cry. God truly touched me through this little girl, and when I was finally able to surrender myself and my cabin unto God, He took control and turned what I thought was a thunder storm into a beautiful sun-shiny day. God spoke so clearly through this little girl, and I was overwhelmed by His presence. At first, I was upset that all of those girls were put into my cabin, but through them, God truly taught me that if I ever try to do things with my own strength and power, then I’d continue to see my failures. It was through this tough and difficult situation that God taught me not to try and be strong on my own through hard times but to give all of my hard times to Him because He never fails. Now, I’m so thankful for this camp and the girls that God introduced me to because if it weren’t for them, I wouldn’t have learned how to rejoice in every situation, and I wouldn’t have learned how to hand over all of my situations to God--the One who is always in complete control.
Tommy Kirkpatrick workstaff / Counselor | louisville, ms
one of the most important lessons I learned this summer was
to stop relying on my plans. So often I would make plans, try to organize things in a certain way, and God would just mix everything around to show me that He has a much better plan already in motion. One particular instance of this occurred during one of the youth camps. I had a cabin full of 11 to 14 year old boys. On the first full day, during afternoon recreation, I was wandering around camp looking for some of my campers to have a one-on-one with them, excluding one camper I was saving for the end of the week. It just so happened that the one boy that I had excluded was the only camper I could find.
jenna herrington Sunshine club leader | brasstown, nc
this summer, God taught me so much about His desire to
be one with me. Looking back at my time at LFR, Galatians 2:20 is the only way to describe what I experienced. “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me.” And in every situation, Christ is much more awesome than I am. First of all, if I’d been in control, I would have been on workstaff. Being a Sunshine Club leader wasn’t even on my radar, but when Mr. Rich asked me to consider it, God made it clear that this was His way-more-awesome plan for me. Secondly, I was definitely not feeling adequate for working with 7 and 8-year-olds. I came to LFR overwhelmed by the fact that I would be in a cabin with campers, working alongside a counselor, and stressed because that was completely out of my comfort zone. But God reminded me that this wasn’t up to me. During the first camp, He let me see what it would be like when I depended on myself, and He showed me my desperate need for His patience and gentleness in my interactions with children. Jesus was so faithful. He didn’t just give me what I needed; He was what I needed. He was patience and gentleness to the children around me when I was exhausted or frustrated and would have responded out of my flesh. Again, He’s so much more awesome than my efforts.
After about ten minutes of searching for my other campers, I gave up and decided to have this camper as my first one-onone instead of my last. He told me he wanted to spend our time kayaking, so we picked up life jackets and paddles and headed out on the lake. Almost immediately, he opened up to me and started talking about his salvation and relationship with the Lord. I didn’t even have to guide the conversation. He told me everything about his salvation experience, his love for Christ, and even how he felt he was being called to youth ministry. This kid was only 14 years old, and he already felt God’s calling on his heart to minister to youth. The entire time we talked I was amazed. He kept spilling out everything about his life including his struggles over his parents’ divorce, and his fear that his father and some of his friends do not have a relationship with Christ. Even after our one-on-one was over, he continued to come to me several times throughout the week to talk about what the Lord was doing in his life, and what to do about his friends that he cared about deeply who did not know Christ. On the last night he asked if he could share a word of Scripture during the last morning watch. So, the next day, to begin morning watch, Mr. Rich allowed my camper to stand in front of the entire camp and share a verse and what it meant to him. Looking back on it all, if my plans would have worked out, I would have never had the chance to really talk to this kid as the Lord allowed him to grow in his faith throughout the week. If I had saved him for last, I would have talked to him one time on the last day. Instead, God showed me His plans, and allowed a bond to be created between me and this camper throughout the week as we shared testimonies, life experiences, and our love for the Lord. I feel like this camper taught me just as much as I taught him. From that day forward, I always tried to let the Lord lead me on how and when to spend my one-on-one time with my campers, so that I wouldn’t miss out on any other campers that might be going through similar experiences.
Brian bullard anna grace dreher Counselor | Birmingham, al
being a counselor at Lake Forest Ranch has been the
biggest blessing in the world. Getting to know the campers and watching the Father work has been extremely encouraging. Every camp there was at least one camper that I can relate to with problems I faced in my life. After spending a lot of time wondering why I had to deal with certain difficult situations, I had the opportunity to see the Lord use them to allow me to pour into the campers who found themselves in similar situations. One specific example was the third week of camp during a one-on-one. I thought I had nothing in common with this camper and would not be able to relate to her, but I was horribly wrong. This little girl told me that she was saved, and her parents were divorced. Then she went on to explain that she felt like her dad did not want to spend time with her. I could hear, see, and feel the heartbreak she had. Jesus allowed her to tell me this struggle so I could share with her what the Lord has revealed to me over the years- He is our perfect Father, He is always there for us, He will never leave us, and He ALWAYS wants to spend time with us. I could see a glimmer of hope in her eyes as I tried my best to explain this to her. She said she knew most of this already, but that it was encouraging to hear it from someone who had been through a similar situation. Then she said something that was ridiculously encouraging to me. She told me about a time she was at a father-daughter retreat with a bunch of friends, and she was the only one there without her dad. She said she was sad and frustrated about his absence, but she remembered that God is her Father and that He was there with her. The comfort from this truth allowed her to get through. I almost started crying right there. It was so good to hear this little girl telling me about her Heavenly Father and His work in her life. It was one of those moments when I realized why I have been through some of the trials I have been through; one of those moments where the Lord showed me that He truly does work out everything for good! I was reminded of one simple truth: MY FATHER IS SO GOOD!!! 20
senior counselor | hattiesburg, ms
F or the vast majority of my existence thus far, the Lord withheld from me the opportunity to lead anyone to Christ. Or at least I never
felt that the person I was leading was genuine in their decision. But during Junior Camp D of 2013 I met what would be my new little brother in Christ, Cole Cannon. I knew very little about Cole other than the fact that he grew up in the Catholic Church, but our lack of being acquainted would not hinder Cole from being honest and vulnerable with me after a very real encounter with the gospel of Christ. During Pow Wow, at the close of the first full day of camp, our camp speaker, Steve Winger, gave an invitation to the campers to go talk/ pray with their counselors about giving their lives to Christ. Cole, once the invitation had been extended, immediately came to the back to find me. We then went outside and I asked him what was on his heart. He said that he had been baptized as a child, but had never truly made a decision to follow Christ. I explained to him what it meant to be a Christian. If he had not just come face to face with the Creator a matter of minutes ago, it would have sounded to him as if I was trying to discourage him from making the decision. But all the while he is just nodding his head, signifying that he knows everything he might face in this world is mere folly in comparison to the surpassing worth of intimately knowing Jesus Christ our Lord. I prayed over him and thanked God for the amazing work He was doing in Cole’s life, and then Cole prayed that he wanted to give his life to Christ. In the most simple, twelve year old words, he declared some of the most deep theological truths of the Christian faith. I wanted to cry out, “Blessed are you Cole bar Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you, but My Father who is in Heaven.” The next day, during craft time, we ran out of the materials needed for the craft, so we decided to go outside and draw with sidewalk chalk. I saw Cole drawing on one side of the outdoor basketball court and then he moved to the other side. Of course, I thought nothing of it because we were just drawing random stuff to pass the time. But after craft time was over I walked around the court looking at what he had drawn and the first thing Cole drew was a giant cross with a caption, “The symbol of Hope and of Christ”, and on the other side in massive letters, “HE IS ALIVE!”, which affirmed to me the very real work that the Lord had done in Cole totally independent of my personal leadership. This was a much needed reminder that the advancement of the kingdom is not contingent upon our ability to preach the good news with lofty words of wisdom and elicit emotional responses because the gospel “is the power of God for salvation...” (Romans 1:16), not the power of man. The Spirit of God is in the business of convicting the world of unbelief and guiding them into all truth, but praise God we get to partake in such an amazing work.
myles faries Counselor | madison, ms
for my very first camp, I had 10 to12 year olds. As those crazy
kids bounced off the walls, I felt completely at home with the group. While all of my campers quickly won my heart, one in particular told me a story that truly pummeled me. I took him outside to swing on my porch and hang out. At first the conversation seemed to go nowhere; it was light-hearted and at a surface level. Then I felt led to share a time in my life that I relied on God to give me strength. Honestly, I don’t even remember what I told him, but what he responded with blew me away. He was very close to his mother; his mom supported the family while her parents helped take care of the children. One day while he was with his grandparents, he heard a loud noise come from outside. They went to investigate what this strange noise was, and the grandfather noticed a wreck just up the rode, so they quickly went to the scene. When they got there, the grandfather found his daughter, my camper’s mother, trapped in her car. Supposedly, a car swerved into her lane, which caused her to drive off the road. By the time the paramedics arrived and got her in a helicopter, the mother was pronounced dead. This child witnessed every second of this horrifying moment. He would forever be scarred because of the image of his mother’s death scene. However, this precious camper pointed out this story while we were discussing the power of God. When asked how this story applied, he responded with answers that proclaimed that it was God and only God that led him and his family through this tragic time. He gave God all the glory and said that his family was doing tons better simply because they clung to the Lord during all of this. While I was brought to tears, I could not help but be moved by the faith of a twelve year old boy.
hannah taylor workstaff / Counselor | sulphur, al
i had a break before prepping for lunch and I saw this little
boy just weeping (snot dripping and hyperventilating kind of weeping). Normally, I wouldn’t try to help out campers if they had a counselor or sunshine club leader with them because I never wanted to over step my bounds, but the Holy Spirit clearly told me to go talk to the boy. After getting the little boy to calm down, I was finally able to ask him what was wrong. It turns out that he was homesick. So naturally, I talked to him about all the fun things at camp that he wasn’t able to do at home like the ropes courses, horseback riding, paddle boating, and so on. That didn’t work. I even got him candy and a snow cone, but he started crying again at the mention of his home. I had no idea what to do. So we just sat in the rocking chairs for a little bit. Then the Lord spoke to me, “Just love him.” But wasn’t that what I was already doing? Then it hit me. Love him without an agenda. Love this child simply because Christ loves him, simply because the Spirit of the living God resides in me. Just love him. And that’s just what I did. We hung out and ate snow cones and just talked about life and the things we liked. Later I found he got over his homesickness and went on to enjoy the rest of camp. What I learned the most from this little boy is that even when we are completely faithless, the Lord is faithful. He is so good. 21
alan dupree apc | olive branch, ms
it has been said that you don’t know what you have, until it’s Jeremy banuelos Counselor | hattiesburg, ms
i had no idea what to expect when Rich called me for a counselor position in the spring. I have never felt so unprepared and uncomfortable about a job in my life. All I knew was that God wanted me here and thankfully He is always prepared. It took God removing me from my bubble in Hattiesburg to grow closer and more dependent on Him. He revealed to me through Lake Forest Ranch the desperate need we all have for Jesus Christ. The lost need Him for hope in salvation and the saved need Him for strength in human weakness. I was so thankful God carried me through this summer despite my physical, mental, or spiritual limitations. I feel so blessed to have been a part of the LFR family this summer as they showed me a clear picture of Christianity by walking in the Spirit.
gone. This summer at LFR fits that description. Halfway through the summer, I wished it would slow down. I wished I could press “pause” and enjoy this time forever; because I know that it will be over all too soon. I am thankful that the Lord saw fit to place me in this unique role, at this unique time in my life. As the APC, I was given a job that I simply cannot do in my own strength. I had those times in which I tried to fix things and failed, because I relied on my strength. However, I was reminded of Zechariah 4:6, when Israel was preparing for a monumental task, “So he answered me, ‘This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: “Not by strength or by might, but by My Spirit,” says the Lord of Hosts.’” I was awestruck by the kindness of the Lord working through me in spite of my weakness, all to the glory of His Name. He carried me through. My prayer is that through this wonderful experience in my life, the Lord Jesus Christ was magnified, as I faded into the background of His glory. I am thankful for the staff family He has given me, and the wonderful opportunity I had. I am thankful that He allowed me to serve LFR. I will treasure this experience forever.
lfr2013 Abby Letson Counselor | Birmingham, AL
Like most people, I like to do what’s comfortable; but, this
summer God has shown me that being used by Him is not always comfortable. During cabin time of every night of camp, I gather my girls for our nightly devotion. Usually I do a short devotional and pray. It’s simple, short, and easy. They are usually ready to go to bed before I even begin, so I wouldn’t have ever considered dragging this time out anymore. During our 5th camp of the summer, the Lord broke me of this. On the second night of camp, I gathered my tired girls around my bed, and prayed before we read our routine devotional. As I was praying, I realized how much I was trying to control this time. It was almost like I was saying, “Lord, can you just hold off on moving during this time? These girls are tired and we just need to get this over with.” Well, that wasn’t His plan for this night. I really felt the Lord leading me to let the girls share their stories. This was uncomfortable. They probably wouldn’t want to talk anyways! I was way too tired for this. But God wasn’t. So, I opened up the floor for them to talk. After a few moments of awkward silence, they began sharing. One girl shared, and it flowed from there. One girl after another shared their life story and the struggles they had faced. I didn’t even realize that it was possible for so much hurt to be in one room. These girls had been through it all, and I was in awe. After a couple of hours and many tears, we had heard from almost every girl in the room. I was amazed at the faith that these girls had in their Savior after all that they had been through, and I was even more amazed at my lack of faith and trust
in the Lord’s providence. He was with them during it all. And as they shared, they were realizing His power and love more and more. It was so cool to see, and the Lord sweetly reminded me that He was in control and that I needed to surrender every bit of our day to Him. It was an awesome night, and the Lord was moving and at work. I thought our moment had ended that night. It most definitely did not. All week long, all I heard from these girls during our one-one-ones was how they had learned so much by the testimonies that had been told on that night. At the end of the week campfire testimony time, so many girls stood up and expressed how they had grown in the Lord from those stories. They talked about how they had never felt the Spirit of God like they had in our cabin that night. I was amazed. Here I was trying to hide God so we could get our devotion over with, but I am so thankful that in His grace He broke me of this that night. He worked in so many girls’ hearts, and I am so grateful that I had a chance to be a part in that. The Lord continues to show me more and more how my strength is worthless and His strength is everything. I am realizing everyday how in need I am of Him. He is so good to use me and let me be a part of the awesome things He is doing at Lake Forest Ranch this summer, and I am so grateful for that. He is so much bigger than my struggles and what I have planned. His plan is always perfect, and He is making new and beautiful things out of our weakness.
Abby Good Counselor | Macon, MS
My prayer for the summer was that the Holy Spirit would work in each of the girls that I had in my cabin. The second youth camp I was able to see His work in each of my girls. The first time that I met the girls in my cabin, God laid on my heart that these were the girls that God had placed me at Lake Forest Ranch to point toward Him. During our first cabin devotional God led me toward a passage in Proverbs that spoke of hurtful words. After sharing the Scripture, one of the girls started crying and shared about the cruel words that others had said about her. This girl’s open heart led to two other girls sharing that they had been wounded by unkind words as well. I just sat back in amazement as the other girls in the cabin began to speak truth into each other’s lives. This devotional was nothing from me but completely through the Holy Spirit and opened the door for sincerity in the other cabin devotionals, one-on-ones, and our time at “Face-to-Face.” “Face-to-Face:” was a very special time for my cabin because God used Father’s Day as a way to show them His true love. After a few of the girls had prayed for the different specific missionaries, the discussion was opened to sharing what is going on in our lives. One of the closed-off girls in my cabin immediately started crying and shared about how her father had completely rejected her and does not even try to speak to her anymore. Right after she had finished sharing, another girl opened up and began to share about her father and rough home life. Everyone in my cabin was crying and sharing in these girls’ pain. Despite the sadness and pain of the moment, God used this opportunity to once again blow my mind. The Holy Spirit led one of the shyest girls in my cabin to stand up and gather those two girls in her arms and begin to pray for them. This was a true picture of the Father’s love in action.
eric anderson Counselor | waveland, ms
“and at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, ‘Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?’ which means, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” Mark 15:34.
I knew going into my first summer at LFR that God was going to do amazing things in my walk with Him, but not once did I foresee Him revealing to me so much about the sacrifice of the cross. Some of the greatest moments with my campers throughout the summer have been during times of discipline. During the second camp of the summer, I had to give out three counts of pine cone duty - the worst disciplinary measure that counselors are allowed to give. The last morning of the camp, I felt compelled by God to carry out the punishment on behalf of the campers. That morning, God used the pine cone duty to give my campers - and me - an entirely new perspective of Jesus taking our punishment for us on the cross. Later this summer I had another behavior issue with my campers. Seven of the campers dragged one of the campers into a closet and locked him in. That night I was faced with the onerous task of figuring out what to do with the campers. I had absolutely no idea how to proceed. Thankfully, God knew exactly what He was doing. He led me to share with the campers the story of the martyrdom of Stephen, and how Stephen prayed on behalf of his murderers even as he was being stoned. This led into speaking about how Christ prayed for us on the cross, even as we nailed Him there with our sin. After I spoke about this, the victimized camper offered forgiveness to his bullies and, through that, God taught them (and me) mercy. Just as the victimized camper interceded between the other campers and me, Jesus intercedes between us and the Father. Lastly, the Father showed me something of what it meant for Him to sacrifice His only Son for us. Many times in my walk I’ve struggled with Mark 15:34, referenced at the top of this reflection. I simply couldn’t understand why the Father would allow Himself to be separated from His Son at Jesus’ greatest hour of need. Finally, it hit me: love. For the first time in known history, God allowed a schism in His perfect being. The Father’s love for us is so great, so impossibly huge, that He even restrained Himself from coming to Jesus’ rescue while He suffered the abomination of a cursed death on a tree. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16.
Christian Good Counselor | Macon, MS
as a counselor at Lake Forest Ranch this summer has given me the opportunity to witness firsthand the work of the Holy Spirit in my life and other people’s lives. For example, my prayer before the first youth camp was to remain in the Spirit and to allow Him to produce fruit among the campers (John 15:5). It was a short prayer that I continually repeated. Before I continue with my testimony, I just want to declare that God answers prayers! During staff meeting the next day, we were asked to split up and pray for the campers. God continued to lay on my heart that the campers in my cabin have hurts and issues that they have not opened up about to me. After praying for my campers, I felt like God then burdened me with the need to share with my campers what purity and biblical manhood should look like in a man seeking after God’s own heart. I shared what God burdened on my heart that same night to my campers for night time devotionals. The next day the amazing happened… I had several campers come up to me throughout the day and tell me that I spoke directly to them during the night time devotion. They shared with me their struggles with lust and romantic relationships that did not glorify God, and I was able to point them to Jesus. After seeing God work in the campers’ lives throughout the day, I was able to witness God providing the fruit that I prayed for earlier in the camp. I opened up our “Face-toFace” experience that night with prayer for the missionaries, and then, I gave them the opportunity to share any prayer requests with the group to lift them up together. The campers began to share struggles with family life that involved whole families’ addictions to drugs and fathers walking out on their sons’ lives. They also shared that some of them struggled with their identity to the point of attempting suicide, and the campers shared about times that they had been persecuted for their faith in their own lives. To sum up the evening of “Face-to-Face,” we were the last ones to leave the area because God was breaking those young men, even to the point of tears. Sitting there witnessing God work in the campers’ weaknesses was a direct result of Him using me as a vessel for His glory throughout the week. He will produce the fruit. We just have to ask for His strength in our weaknesses (2 Corinthians 12:10).
Nathan Sims Counselor | Hattiesburg
I began this summer with so many expectations. This is my
first year as a LFR staff member, but I have been coming to LFR for camps and retreats since I was in fifth grade. I have had a desire to be a counselor here since my first time as a camper. The past few years, I have been developing expectations about how this summer would be. After just a few days, I realized those expectations were completely inaccurate. That is a good thing. God has shown Himself in so many different ways this summer. He has no limits and can use me in ways I would never imagine. I am just a helpless tool, but He is the Perfect Worker. One experience I had this summer really sticks out to me when it comes to God working through me and in these campers’ lives. I had a camper who knew all the answers to the Bible study questions and carried himself in a way that seemed to reflect Christ. I had no doubt that he was a Christian. However, in our one-on-one, he revealed to me that he had never given his life to Jesus. I was shocked and asked him why he hadn’t. He told me, in short, that he had some sin from his past that he needed to come to terms with first. I felt led by the Spirit to share with him the story of Paul and how he went from being a leading persecutor of the Church to arguably the most influential Church leader ever. He didn’t respond to the story right at that moment, but I could see that the Spirit was moving in his heart. That night, the speaker’s message spoke even more to him and he realized that his past sin was already paid for and that he did not have to carry that burden. The next morning, he gave his life to Christ! I didn’t find this out until that night, but there aren’t words to describe the joy I felt when I learned I had a new brother in Christ! It was amazing to hear him talk about how God had lifted the burden of his sin off of his shoulders and he can now begin to know God instead of just know about Him. I have always known that the Holy Spirit has the power to move in any person’s life in any way that He chooses; however, I really experienced His power to a completely different degree in that moment. He took a person who was so weighed down by his sin that he didn’t feel worthy of God’s forgiveness, and He transformed him into a born again follower of Christ that now seeks to learn about God and experience that forgiveness every day for the rest of his life. All I had to do was sit back and watch the Spirit work. That is the power of the Holy Spirit in action! It is amazing and it happens here every day. God is moving at LFR and He is moving powerfully. 25
cj moore camp macon intern | winona, ms
When Rich came to me with this job opportunity back in January,
my first response (only in thought) was a definite, “No.” However, I felt that since I was presented with the chance to help students come and make known the Gospel of Christ, I figured, as any Christian should, that I should pray about it and seek out what the Father wanted; but I, in no way, wanted to do this. Through weeks of prayer, thought, and advice, I discerned that this summer I should take up being the Camp Macon Intern (this is such a loaded job title). Moreover, I have come to find it extraordinarily odd that I’ve been given somewhat of a gift to sort out minor details and logistics in order to accomplish the bigger picture, when I don’t really enjoy it all that much. Throughout the summer, if you were to ask me, “Are you ready for Camp Macon,” my response would have easily been, “I’m ready for Camp Macon to be over.” It felt that my summer was phone calls, e-mails, messages, meetings, paper, flyers, ads, checks, spreadsheets, documents, mail, stamps, etc.; and the hardest part in it all was to solely find joy in Christ. Further on, I was convicted close to the time of Camp Macon of this problem. It became obvious that my joy was in my girlfriend, friends, education, a city, a job, and the like; because when those things were taken away, and a sometimes un-enjoyable intern position was added, my joy all but disappeared. One night, I decided to study Psalm 51, where David sings a song unto the Lord after being forgiven of his sin with Bathsheba. He says in verses 10-12, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence, and take not your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” David knew that without God sustaining him and even more, without His Spirit, that he would surely fall back into his sinful ways. For the final weeks leading up to Camp Macon, it was my constant prayer that God would renew me with His Spirit each and every day to remind me that I obtained the highest form of joy – Himself. Then, Camp Macon finally arrived, and I must say, seeing things go as smoothly as they did didn’t make me want to pat myself on the back for all of the hard work that I had done, but rather, it made me want to give God all of the glory for what He made happen. Looking back, there was time after time that I found one thing after another to stress about, be it fundraising, getting student missionaries, or having Macon kids and teens register for camp. To His praise, we have raised thousands over our budget goal, gotten over 100 student missionaries (when the minimum goal was 80), and helped 500+ kids and teens to know the Gospel. Missions happened, discipleship happened, salvation happened… God happened. Camp Macon 2013 was a success, and it’s all because He wanted it to be. To God be the glory, great things He has done this summer. Undoubtedly, He will do so much more in the years to come.
Mcm Student Missionary Reflections Wyatt Lindsey
Covenant Presbyterian Church Chattanooga, TN
I got to talk to one of my kids for a whole hour during the
time we were at the horses. We talked about God and I shared with him everything that He has been doing in my life. He asked so many questions about his own relationship with God. It was awesome to get to encourage him and it was such a blessing to me as well.
Brewer Baptist Church, Shannon, MS
A camper taught me patience and not to give up. He took
a leadership role and encouraged everyone including me. He stood out for God. God is doing amazing things in his life.
Eli McRae Chicora Baptist Church, Stateline, MS
Heritage Baptist Church, Dallas, GA
I had the blessing of six of my kids giving their lives to Christ. These kids are some of the greatest kids I’ve met.
As a pastor, one of the greatest blessings is to see your
students climb to the next rung of faith because of what God has done in their lives. To see young Christians stretched in their walk by leading others in prayer, leading others in Bible study and leading others to Christ brought me to tears and strengthened my own faith. I loved hearing our students say, ‘if God can be effective at LFR through me, then He can be effective through me in my school.
Antioch Baptist Church, Bay Springs, MS
Chad Mouledous Hammond, LA
God led not just a camper to me, but a friend. I found out
that his mother passed away last December and he was going through the darkest time of his life. He trusted me by the relationship we formed over the past 4 years that I have been coming to MCM. He told me the whole story. He was broken physically and spiritually. God gave me the chance to pray with this young man and lead him into a new life of salvation with Jesus. God is good!
I really look forward to MCM every year, and this year was
way more special than I could have imagined. The week of MCM is the best week of the year by far. God is so real and present here. Some of my fondest memories are, and forever will be, from MCM.
personally felt God this week. I’ve been struggling to believe and this week has been a blessing. I, for the first time since I was young, felt true joy. I love LFR and MCM. I got saved this week and I am thankful that Karen and Abby and the band had a big part in showing me the love of God.
lfr2013 Carolina Bragg
Gulf Shores UMC, Gulf Shores, AL
had the opportunity to love on so many sweet little kids and show them what love is and tell them who Christ is. Although some of them might be too young, I know the Lord planted a seed and they impacted my life just as much as I impacted theirs. MCM is amazing!
Allyson Young Ashley Carr New Hope Free Will Baptist Church Dellwood, FL
I realized this week that true ministry is about so much more
than leading people to Christ. It’s about loving others and meeting their needs while leaving the “work” to God. During the “Face-to-Face” prayer time, I was completely humbled by God and finally came to understand that ministry wasn’t about what I can do for God, but rather what He can do through me if I let Him.
Dalton Outz FBC Macon, Macon, MS
This week I just fully grasped that we do nothing…God does everything.
Cody Thompson Cornerstone Community Church, Macon, MS
This week, God has shown me what it really means to
be devoted to prayer and to be a prayer warrior. I think the reason that God sent me here this week was to show me the power of prayer. He has been answering my prayers a lot this week. I’m pretty sure it’s impossible to come to MCM and God not touch your heart in some way.
Seth Gilmore Trinity Baptist Church, Marianna, FL
A kid from Emmanuel Kids Camp, TJ, listened to my full
explanation about the gospel. I believe that God definitely planted a seed in him. He asked a lot of questions and smiled at the thoughts of heaven and Jesus loving him. He reached out to me more than any other kids. I was blessed this week.
Hope Baptist Church, Philadelphia, MS
Wow! I can’t even begin to explain what all God has done
this week in me, in my team captains and my campers! One thing in particular is when a camper on my team who wasn’t even “supposed” to be on my team – on the last day of MCM when we prayed over each camper by the lake, this camper (KD) completely broke and started crying. He is a football player who is so much fun to be around. He is always ready for a challenge. He pulled himself together and I didn’t really get to talk to him about anything then. That night right after Family Night though, Bill Reif called the kids down for somebody to pray with them if the week was life-changing for them. KD came up to me and gave me a big hug. As I hugged him, I told him that I was glad that I met him and how God has a purpose for him and loved him. KD then broke again. I took him to one of the adult leaders and we just shared the gospel with him. He rededicated his life. It was so awesome to be a part of what God is doing in his life. I’m very thankful! Also, it was super cool to see how God worked in my team captains’ lives from Day 1 to Day 5. I could see their growth and it was awesome! I have been so blessed this week. God is good! All the time!
Adult Leader Reflections
Tina Jewell Olive Branch, MS
Barbara Hahn Hattisburg, ms
Lake Forest Ranch leaves a feeling of being at home and just a During the “Face-to-Face” reflecting on Skype with missionaries, true meeting with Jesus. A sense of excitement and expectation comes when we have been given the chance to sit at His feet and lay against Him and breathe.
Paul Spell Richton, MS
This has been a great week, not only for me but for all of my students. To hear how God has revealed Himself to them this week in a very personal way is amazing. The best thing about this place is the way your guys continue to spend time alone with each student and everything is an investment in their spiritual lives. Other camps have a lot of flashy shows, big bands, and things like that, but nothing comes close to the investment you guys put into the students. Not only the students, but us as well. I have been renewed this week in the presence of Christ in me and have been lifted by the great message of “The Power of ONE.” Thank you for allowing the Holy Spirit to lead you here in everything from the Bible study to the workstaff. I was struggling with some sin in my life and this week has brought me to my knees with God to forget the mistakes in the past and press on with the power of God in my life. Thank you so much for allowing God to use you and your family. May the love of God spread as we take this message back home.
Kathy flowers Ridgeland, MS
camp is always a time when God renews in me an urgency for
sharing the Gospel with our children. He has once again reminded me of the call He has placed on my life and the blessing and honor it is to serve Him in this capacity.
I thought about the thousands upon thousands of people who have been impacted by LFR- either directly or indirectly as people have left camp changed and impacting people that they have come in contact with. God only knows how many lives have been changed. LFR is an anointed place; when I drive through the tree tunnel right before you reach the buildings, I always feel like I have come home.
Lisa Lowell Huntsville, AL
Lake Forest has been the highlight of our kids’ summer ever
since school was out. I believe I was asked, “When do we go to camp?”, at least once a week. Camp this year was an extra special week for me. I was doubly blessed this summer. Not only did many of my campers grow in their love for Jesus but I personally got to see my own daughter, who served as a counselor, grow in her own life and become more dependant upon God. So excited for what God is doing and will continue to do in the lives of children as well as young adults. Lake Forest “ROCKS!” –word from our kids.
Reginald Glenn Jackson, MS
i’ve had the privilege of living in Macon and serving LFR in a
behind-the-scenes capacity. With my first time being an adult leader this summer, I truly have had the LFR experience in full; loving people, kind-hearted servants, and spiritually rooted people with a desire to see youth come to know Christ. I am grateful to know and be a part of the LFR Family.
Jason and Leigh Helms
The ability to come together and get to know other youth
pastors/leaders means a great deal to us. It blesses our hearts to hear the stories and testimonies of others. It is a great time of encouragement for us. There are times when we can feel alone in our “work” for God with these young people. There are times that we feel as if we’ve given all we have to give… and there is God saying to us, “I have already supplied you with what you need.” As we listen to others, we have been encouraged and inspired to continue His work with our students.
enjoyed the presence of Christian friends and the attitude of all the staff members. The Bible study was a great learning experience and a great challenge to do more for our Lord and strive for a greater closeness to Him and to be more sensitive to Him when He speaks to us. The institution that is LFR is so unique and Christ-led in serving. I would not want to miss the retreat nor summer visits.
Jennifer Cook Union, MS
Pell City, AL
solitude of the location of the camp definitely provides the right environment for spiritual growth and discernment. It allowed me to “hear” God and know what He wanted me to do concerning my upcoming move. This was my first time to LFR. My daughter, Ruth, has been the last two years and always comes home talking about going the next year. I wanted to come with her this year and see what it was like. I really enjoyed my time here and see why she looks forward to her next visit. The staff and counselors are so nice and have everything so well organized. I plan to return this fall for the family camp.
Even though this is a “Children’s Camp,” I love how the
adult leaders are so involved and have a Bible Study time geared to us! It’s a blessing to be able to get away from our everyday life and truly put all of our focus on God and not have our “daily/routine” interruptions.
Pamela Holmes Kokomo, MS
A spiritual blessing I had was to learn my daughter has
asked the Lord in her heart this week! That was worth the trip… praise the Lord! I also was blessed in the adult Bible Studies. Steve Winger reminded us that our children are looking to us in the way to act and live in all things; even our Christian walk. If we look forward to church and reading our Bibles, our children will too. Our children notice if it is a chore to us, and if we are not excited, they will develop the same attitude.
LFR News Jerry & Jackie Jackson’s Departure from Lake Forest
After serving with us for six summers, the Jacksons have now
moved back to their home in Raymond, MS. Read Jerry’s article in this magazine about how God led in this difficult decision. We are already greatly missing these two but we are so happy that they are involved in such vital ministry in the Jackson area. When Jerry and Jackie first came during the summer of 2008 I remember the words of a Children’s Minister, “Lake Forest Ranch is now stepping up to a whole new level.” A giant thank you goes out from all of us to Jerry and Jackie Jackson for six great summers of helping to move LFR forward in a way that truly honors the LORD! The mark here that they have left will last a very long time.
Sandy & Paula to the Rescue
With the exit of Jackie as our Business Administrator at the end of our summer, the decision was made to fill her shoes with a part time Camp Bookkeeper (Paula Kirkpatrick) and a full time Office Manager (Sandy Malone). Paula brings to LFR many years of accounting and bookkeeping experience as a local CPA. She will be working approximately one day per week to take care of the Lake Forest payroll and financial matters. Paula’s son, Tommy, is a recent graduate from MSU and he served as one of our camp counselors this summer. This is a wonderful family from Louisville. Sandy (Rich’s wife), in her 20 years of living at LFR, has served in numerous ministry and service capacities here as needed. As Office Manager, Sandy brings to the office of Lake Forest Ranch a deep love for Christ and for this ministry and some incredible depth. Needless to say, she knows LFR extremely well. People and camp organization will be wonderfully cared for and provided for under her watch. Sandy will most likely be the person to whom you speak whenever you call the camp. So please give her a call! She will continue next summer with her ministry of one-on-one discipleship, teaching and training for staff and be available to adult leaders. Sandy will train and supervise some of our summer staff members to make sure that we “cover all the bases” with registration and office management. What a relief it is to have these two gifted, godly women taking care of LFR behind-the-scenes. Please pray for them in their new work with us.
The question is being asked, “Who will take the place of Jerry
Jackson?” The truth is, those are some mighty big shoes to fill. Please pray for the LFR leadership as we begin in September reading through resume’s and talking/praying with candidates for this important leadership position. We know that God has a man for the ministry to be done here, and we look forward to seeing His direction. If you know of anybody who is interested or whom you might recommend, please contact Rich for more information and to obtain a copy of the job description. We are most of all wanting to keep this big decision in the Father’s wise hands.
WELCOME STUART AND ASHLEY REESE
After Stuart and Ashley Reese were married last summer,
they immediately headed to Wuhan, China for a one year commitment teaching English to children in an elementary school. They returned to the States in July and then moved to LFR in August to begin a one year internship with us for Christian camp ministry training. They arrived right about the same time that Jerry and Jackie Jackson were leaving us, so they have been very busy assisting us during this transition time. We are so happy to have this wonderful, godly couple at LFR for a year and we look forward to seeing all that the Father has ahead for them in Christian camp ministry. Pray that God will fill them up and bless them this year through their many practical and inspirational experiences at Lake Forest Ranch.
LABOR DAY WEEKEND FAMILY ESCAPE
We feel that our summer is complete after the annual LFR
Labor Day Weekend Family Escape. This year’s retreat was another great and refreshing time in the Lord. There were about 45 families that participated and about 16 of those had family members who had been on staff here in the past – it was like an LFR staff family reunion for them. This weekend is always a huge blessing to families – out of our 240 staff members and participants there were 117 children here ages 18 and under. As always, it was a weekend to remember! Why not plan to join us next summer with your family!
Your Gift Will Make a Difference at LFR!
Lake Forest Ranch Staff
Executive Director Rich Malone email@example.com
The fees that we charge campers and retreat groups can only stay low enough to remain affordable to families and churches if we can subsidize them. Through the generous unrestricted gifts from our friends and supporters, about 7% of our annual operation budget can be met. This is vital to the ongoing ministry of LFR. Attendance improved for our summer camps this year partly due to the fact that we did not raise the prices for our summer camps (for some camps the price was even reduced). The problem is that our expenses have not decreased… in fact they have significantly increased in some categories of camp operation. We will continue to try to keep the cost of camp affordable so that many families, churches, and children will be blessed and transformed for the glory of God. The cost being kept low is done by us being careful with our spending and by friends like you giving as God leads and provides. It really does take all of us working together to get the job done.
Capital Improvements We have completed the new Lakefront Shop and we really enjoyed using it for summer 2013. This happened thanks to the gracious gifts of our many great friends and the volunteer labor of Dickie Gibbs and his crew from Shreveport, LA, as well as a group called “Campers on Mission” from around the state. Our plan for the next project includes a much needed multipurpose building that will house our infirmary, our housekeeping, and additional space for summer staff. The additional staff housing will allow us to add at least two more cabins to house campers in the summer. Also two other projects are in the works that will require some funding for the coming year. First is a new high elements ropes course. Due to some winds back in the springtime, we lost a couple of our ropes course elements and the age of the other elements necessitates the soon construction of a new course. Our own LFR facilities staff will likely be the construction team for that camp improvement, but building supplies will have to be purchased. The other project will be a new swimming pool to replace our old one that is rapidly becoming unusable. That project will be quite expensive
Camperships Thanks to the wonderful gifts of some dear friends of LFR and the Baptist Children’s Village, the annual need for camperships for those children has been covered for a number of years. There are other groups that still need to be covered though. We are hoping to find sponsors to provide the camperships for the Palmer Home children out of Columbus and Hernando (about 20-25 children each summer), as well as the Angel Tree children (about 15-20)! The need for General Camperships is quite large as well (between 40-45). Please pray about helping to fund this vital part of the LFR summer camp ministry. For 2013 we were able to provide 116 full camperships and 40 partial ones. The total amount given this year to cover this was about $34,000. Camperships make a huge difference in young lives!
assistant director presently seeking Business Administrator sandy malone firstname.lastname@example.org facilities Manager jeff troyer email@example.com Assistant Facilities Manager Chad Chapman firstname.lastname@example.org Food service Linda Morris email@example.com Blake Morris firstname.lastname@example.org Camp Interns STuart & Ashley Reese email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Board of Directors J.l. Morris Richard Barge steve morris becky cowan inez barge rick shurtz kathy case randy morris
Mission Camp Macon
Next year LFR will host the 11th annual Mission Camp Macon. Each year the impact on lives in our community is enormous. Over 500 Noxubee County children and youth attended the five-day camp and there were several participants who were saved. The local community churches and businesses faithfully support this wonderful work, but additional help is needed; funds given to this will enable us to provide camperships for student missionaries to attend and minister, to provide program materials, transportation, refreshments, supplies, also it will help us to cover the cost for our Friday night Camp Macon Family Night. Your help, as God leads, would be greatly appreciated.
Photographer Rachel Cohen
Administrative Assistant Jenna Clendinning email@example.com
Graphic Design Stuart Reese
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