Summer camps are now behind us and what a wonderful couple of weeks! This year we had youth camp and kids camp at the same campgrounds, Hidden Acres, which was very convenient and fun for our kids to explore new grounds.
The end of July was youth camp, EROSION: Carving the Right Path. The focus of the week was not only to learn new habits that would grow us closer to the Lord, but to have the time carved out to implement the habits learned. There was a lot of time for practical application following our breakout sessions. We want to give a HUGE shoutout to our three breakout speakers: Trevor Seeburger who spoke on hearing the voice of God, Kevin Starkey who spoke on hearing the call of God and Kurtis Rupe who spoke on what to do with my “now”. Students walked away from the week with tools for application not just knowledge. Levi Nortune was our evening speaker. Every night was packed full of truth and power. Here are a couple highlights:
Wednesday night we had 30 students acknowledge God’s call on their life for full time ministry. It was so moving to watch God awaken the call to ministry in so many hearts.
Thursday night was Holy Spirit night. It was a powerful time of impartation and activation of spiritual gifts. To watch students receive gifts from the Lord and then turn around and bless their leaders and each other with those gifts was a dynamic move of the Spirit and something amazing to witness.
This year we broke away from our color war and switched to water balloons. It was a fun, refreshing way to cool down from the summer heat. Skyler Sanford did an amazing job with games for both weeks at camp. Thank you, Skyler!
Speaking of both weeks, kids camp followed right after youth camp. This year our theme was STORIES: Bringing the Bible to Life. We had a fun time meeting a new friend of Jesus each night. We had Darrick Young as Peter. The roar of laughter was something else. He kept it real, fun, engaging and brought hope to all the kids. Tuesday night we met Esther, thanks to Randi Malone. Although she didn’t know Jesus personally, she knew the importance of her role in preparing the way for Jesus to come. This led to a powerful altar ministry time. Wednesday night we met Zacchaeus, thanks to Kevin Starkey. We learned the importance of being a friend of Jesus and how each student could choose to be His friend too. Last, but not least, we met the woman at the well. Kennedy Walker did a flashback story about how Jesus knew everything she had ever done and the power of her testimony.
Kennedy Walker and Eliana Orcutt did an amazing job with VBS style worship. It was fun, energetic and full of truth. One of our favorite moments was a little girl being baptized during her pool time. The evidence of Jesus ran through the week in these kid’s lives with many who gave their hearts to the Lord.
We look ahead now and cannot wait for Winter Retreat: LIGHT IT UP! December 28-30 in Cedar Rapids, IA!
Open Bible Churches in the Democratic Republic of Congo
Thank you for your prayers as I traveled to Africa to the Democratic Republic of Congo with OBC Global Missions Director, Vince McCarty; Pastor Peter Mahoye Shandakwa, Fairfax, IA; and his brother, Alex, who provided all the interpreting for us. Pastor Peter fled the DRC in 2003 and left a good number of church plants that have desired to officially join with Open Bible Churches. Flying to and from the DRC was no small task. Nineteen hours of flying to get there and twenty-one hours of flying to get home. The flights were both extended by an hour and a half each way due to the no-fly zone over Sudan due to their civil war.
On our first day in the DRC, Vince and I taught on the Statement of Faith for Open Bible Churches and fielded questions from the pastors and church leaders. They asked some great questions and we felt they were both responsive and affirming of their alignment with our doctrine. Our first evening we discovered that one of the church choirs had an auto accident on their way to the conference and 8 choir members were killed. It made all of us pause because the roads are very treacherous and accidents are common. The next morning, Pastor Peter came to our hotel due to a military general also staying at our hotel. We were surrounded by heavily armed guards and he didn’t want us to be alarmed. It was a high-tension couple of days for sure.
Vince and I both spoke on Saturday and then brought greetings to the congregation on Sunday with 3,217 people present. Pastor Peter joined us on Monday and Tuesday as we met with pastors and discussed how they can partner with Open Bible in the coming days. Vince said to me that the DRC is one of the most challenging places to travel and visit in Africa but we completed what we were sent to do and I believe Open Bible will have an impact in the DRC and countries around it in the years to come. Vince will be working with Pastor Peter to get Congo structured with bylaws and proper guidelines to work with Global Missions in the years to come.
Open Bible Fellowship, Ankeny, IA and Pastors Wally and Lana Shea have officially moved their ministry to Experience Church, Des Moines, IA with Pastor Charles (Deanna) Cole effective September 1, 2023. Their merge service is Sunday, September 10, 2023.
Phyllis Wadleigh, mother of Lois (Vince) McCarty, registrar for INSTE Bible College, passed away on Sunday, August 6, 2023. She was 94 years of age, lived in Longmont, CO, and a faithful Christ follower. A service will be scheduled at a future date.