Tagged rhcc

copy-of-copy-of-www-dessertsocials-com

2016 – The Year of Immeasurably More

2016 – What a year, and what a God! This has truly been the year of “Immeasurably More.” When I think about what God has accomplished in my life as well as at Rolling Hills Community Church and through Justice & Mercy International, I am simply in awe of Him. What all has God accomplished in your life this year?

Here are my Top Ten God-Experiences of 2016:

  1. Kate’s Baptism – baptizing my youngest daughter on Father’s Day – as a parent, it just doesn’t get any better than that.
  2. By God’s grace, was able to share the story of life-transformation through God’s church with others through a book called Immeasurably More – It has been amazing to see God transforming people’s lives for His glory and I love the stories of His people that can be read about in the book.
  3. Watched God provide the funds for another Transitional Living Home in Moldova – we have 10 precious orphan girls and a house mother ready to go into this new home.
  4. Church packing 108,000 meals for Haiti – I got to serve with 500 volunteers from church to pack this many meals, mostly for children in Haiti after the hurricane.
  5. Biblical Study Tour to Israel – I journeyed with a team of 25 from church for 2 weeks throughout Israel with our guide, Yoni. It sure is life-impacting to see the Bible come to life.
  6. Mission Trip to Moldova – a wonderful experience every summer, but this year was extra special with our Transitional Living Home Graduation Celebration.
  7. Pastor’s Conference in the Amazon – I thank God for my time with these amazing pastors and their wives for a week as well as the incredible team from the States. God’s mercies stretch beyond measure.
  8. Vacation with my girls – from taking my oldest daughter, Grace, to Washington D.C. for her 12th birthday to new places with the five of us, we had the best time! I love my family and am blessed to be their husband and dad.
  9. Father & Son Bowl extra day for the fatherless – the Father & Son Bowl is a highlight every year, but adding the extra day for the fatherless was the perfect next step for this amazing ministry.
  10. Wedding vow renewal for Dolly & Carl – an unexpected addition this year, but it was so special to officiate at Dolly Parton and Carl’s 50th Anniversary Wedding Vow Renewal. I am thankful for their marriage & influence.

Praise God for each of these moments, as well as His many other incredible blessings! It wasn’t all easy, however: 2016 was also a tough year in that my dad went home to be with Jesus. I truly miss him, but I know that he is experiencing the “Immeasurably More” life in heaven…right now! I am so proud and thankful for him.

This is my Top Ten – what about yours? What did you see God do in your life this year?

I pray your 2017 is even better. I pray you press into God even more, and see Him do miracles. I pray that you grow in your love for Him and for those around you. I actually pray that 2017 is your best year yet! Stay strong in the Lord. Give Him praise and follow Him all the days of your life. He is with you and He is for you.

Praise God for 2016 and blessings on you in 2017!

In Christ,

6cae3f01-8360-44a1-b49f-ae5f6ac5ec11

water-from-a-rock

Water from a Rock

img_5470Stunning in beauty; yet, harsh in reality. During the first few days of our recent Biblical Study Tour to Israel, we spent time in the Negev – the wilderness. We actually walked where the children of Israel walked for 40 years as they wandered around the wilderness coming out of Egypt and before entering the Promised Land. It is truly wilderness – hot, dry, very little rainfall and barren. Yet, God provided for His people for 40 years. Each day God gave them manna “bread” from heaven, quail, as well as water from a rock. It is incredible to see these places in the wilderness where these natural springs come flowing out of a huge rock. They are rare, but they are there. When the people needed water, God would call Moses to “strike” (or “speak to” – important to do what God tells us) the Rock. And, God would bring water to sustain His people back then – just like our God sustains us today.

img_5466Actually, much of Israel resembles this. The area around the Galilee is beautiful and can be lush (no wonder Jesus spent so much time there), but the rest of the country resembles the terrain of the wilderness more than it does the Galilee. Jerusalem is like this, the Dead Sea and the Judean wilderness. So, why did God choose this place for the Promised Land? Why did God call Abraham to this land? Why did He make this the most coveted of all the land for His people?

Well, first of all, this is the most strategic land in the world. It sits as a “land bridge” between Europe, Asia, Africa and India. It is the home of the most ancient spice routes. With the Mediterranean Sea, the Red Sea and the Dead Sea, it has served as a huge commercial route for all time. Almost every major army has come through this area, with more battles being fought at Megiddo, the Valley of Armageddon, than anywhere else in the world. In fact, the last battle of history will occur in this place.

img_5479Secondly, there are a lot of natural resources. While the terrain is difficult, there are still places of great vegetation. From the springs of the Jordan River in the north, to the Sea of Galilee and the well-watered areas all the way down to the Dead Sea, it truly can be a “land flowing with milk and honey.” There are huge contrasts, yet sustaining provision. While none of it is easy, it is all there. It is beautiful and bountiful. But, still there are better nourished places in the world that are much easier to grow and develop.

So, why this place? When we asked our guide, Yoni, here was his response:
“What is so promising about the Promised Land?” reading Isaiah 45:6 while viewing the Judean wilderness after our camel ride. “In English it is very poetic, ‘so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides me. I am the Lord and there is no other‘ (NIV). However in Hebrew the verse actually says “כי אפס בלעדי“ or transliterated, ‘ki efes biladai” which literally means ‘you are nothing without me.'” In other words, we are zero without God and he gave his people a land where they would often be reminded of their frailty and need of constant Heavenly help. If he had chosen someplace like Tahiti, people would have quickly forgotten about God. It is a simple formula.

img_5475God wants us to trust in Him. As God brought the children of Israel out of Egypt and led them to the Promised Land, He met them to say, “Don’t forget Me” when you come into the land – Deuteronomy 8. God is always drawing us to Himself. Even in the hard times, these are reminders of how much we need the Lord – and how God will take care of us – even providing water from a rock.

One of our team members, Matt Huitt, wrote:

“I was struck by how we kept seeing all those man-made irrigation techniques and it brought to mind Isaiah 41:17-20 ‘The poor and needy search for water, but there is none; their tongues are parched with thirst. But I the Lord will answer them; I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them. I will make rivers flow on barren heights, and springs within the valleys. I will turn the desert into pools of water, and the parched ground into springs. I will put in the desert the cedar and the acacia, the myrtle and the olive. I will set junipers in the wasteland, the fir and the cypress together, so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this,that the Holy One of Israel has created it.'”

We stood on the physical rock where our spiritual rock, Jesus, was struck, where “blood AND WATER” flowed out when the centurion pierced his side with a spear. Soon, in the new heavens and new earth, drip irrigation and step irrigation and any other source for capturing water won’t be needed. Just as Eden was watered by a river, so the whole earth will be watered by the new Jerusalem when God rights all wrongs and makes all things new.

Wherever you are in the journey of your life today remember that God can and will provide water from a Rock. He is with you and He is for you. Hold on to Him. Don’t forget about Him when things are plenty, but always remember He is the Source of all good things in your life. He doesn’t want you to be complacent. He always wants you to trust Him and need Him. Think about all He has done for you today. Especially, water from a Rock.

“She turned to the sunlight And shook her yellow head,And whispered to her neighbor_ %22Winter is dead.”

Spiritual Discernment – Inviting God Into Your Decisions

We make decisions every day – some are little and some are big. Deciding what clothes we wear, what food we eat, the music we listen to or even what we watch on Netflix are little decisions, but over time they make an impact on our life. In addition, there are some big decisions that we make – who we marry, what job we take, what house or car we buy and where we live that have huge implications. In fact, if you think about it, our life is pretty much comprised of the decisions we make – the little and the big. Discernment is important in every decision we make. Spiritual discernment is essential in our lives. God is sovereign and He has a great plan for our lives. Romans 12:2 says, “Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – His good, pleasing and perfect will.” This means that God has a “perfect will” for your life. However, by the decisions we make, we can end up settling for merely God’s “pleasing will” or even God’s “good will.” Yet, God wants the very best for us!

Knowing what God wants us to do and where God wants us to go is at the heart of every Christ-follower. But, how? How do we know what God wants us to do? This is discernment. Discerning God’s will in every decision we make. People often ask me for prayers or advice on decisions in their lives. Most of the time, this centers around the bigger decisions such as a job or even career change, a person they are dating and trying to decide if they are the one to marry, a decision about which college to attend or a large financial expenditure, like buying a house. I count it an honor to pray with them and for them in whatever they are facing and although their discernment process is their own journey, they are certainly starting at the right place. Here’s my 5-step process for gaining and growing in discernment with every decision:

  1. Pray about it – I believe in the power of prayer. God tells us, “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; he who seeks finds; and to him who knocks the door will be opened.” (Matthew 7:7-8) God wants us to ask! Praying invites God into the decision. So often we set out to solve the problem thinking we don’t need God. But, God wants to be involved in every area of our life. No decision is too small or too big for God.
  2. How does it align with Scripture – God will not call you to do something outside of His Word. For instance, if buying a new car means you will take on too much debt, then it is probably not the right decision. Maybe you need to save more before buying the car, or you need to buy a cheaper car. Also, God’s Word teaches us not to be “unequally yoked;” therefore, you should not marry someone who is not a Christ-follower. They don’t have to agree with you on every doctrinal issue, but this foundation must be right. God gives us His Word to reveal His character and His will for us. Make sure that every decision lines up with His Word.
  3. Make a list of pros and cons – This is a part of spiritual discernment that many people skip. God gave us a brain, and He wants us to use it. Jesus said, “Be as wise as serpents and as harmless as doves.” Does the decision make common sense? Do the pros outweigh the cons. Maybe it is a new job – does your decision take into account the impact on your family, community, health benefits, personal growth – it is not always the job offer with the most money that wins. This even comes back to the food you eat and the things you watch. As the apostle Paul writes, “Everything is permissable (because of grace), but not everything is beneficial.” (1 Corinthians 10:23) Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. However, sometimes God calls us to steps of faith that defy logic. Be discerning.
  4. Seek wise counsel – We all have blindspots. We need others to look at decisions from a different perspective as well as to take the personal emotion out of it. Proverbs 10:22 says, “Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers they succeed.” Don’t be afraid, or too prideful, to ask for help or advice. Ask people who you know will be honest with you. Also, be willing to go to a Christian Counselor who can help you discern. The most important part is making the right decision, not that you are right. Be willing to listen. Many times God speaks to you through others.
  5. Fast – When I have big decisions to make, many times I invest in some kind of fast. Fasting is when you give up food, social media or something else for a certain period of time (sun up to sun down, or even three days, a week, etc.) in order to not be distracted by the things of this world and focus on listening to God. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.” God wants you to know what He wants you to do. Ask Him. And, then make the commitment to put yourself in a posture to receive from Him.

The Christian life is a journey of faith – and that is what makes it so exciting. It is learning to be dependent on God. Growing in your love for Him and your ability to hear His voice. This is discernment, and this leads to spiritual depth and greater impact for the Kingdom. Commit every decision to the Lord. God wants you to succeed. He wants you to know His perfect will for your life. Understand the importance of discernment in every decision you make. Follow this 5-step process, and I guarantee you will make wise decisions. And, now, let’s live it all for the glory of our great God!

 

Big Rocks First

Big Rocks First

I remember the first time I saw it, and I was mesmerized. There were five big rocks and a jar full of beans. His name was Hamp Pitts – a graduate of MIT and an inventor. He was the smartest man I knew (and maybe still is). He was a scientist and a Christ-follower. He took some beans and poured them into a jar. They came very close to filling up the entire jar. Then he asked, “Now, do you think I can get these five big rocks into the jar and close the lid?” No way. It was impossible. The jar was almost full already. There was no way he could add the rocks. All of us were perplexed, but Hamp was fully confident.

After a few moments of silence, letting the dilemma fully sink in, Hamp emptied the jar of the beans and placed the big rocks in first. Without saying a word, he began to pour the beans back into the jar over the rocks. As the last beans fell in, they came right up to the top. Hamp calmly took the lid and put it on the jar with the big rocks and the beans all inside. He simply said, “Put the big things in first.”

What a life-impacting principle. What we all do, especially this time of the year, is we cave to the little things. “The tyranny of the urgent” as some have called it. We fill our lives with the little things, and then we don’t have time for the things that really matter. Our schedules are packed with little things that are not that important, but that take our time, energy and attention away from the big things that do matter. At the end of the day, there is a difference between activity and accomplishment.

The solution? Put the big things in first. Don’t let your schedule run your life. We must prioritize what is truly important and put that into our life first. I believe our top five priorities must be:

  1. God – you need to spend time with your Heavenly Father. No one ever drifts into a closer relationship with God. You must be intentional. You must commit the first 15-30 minutes in the morning, or at night, to be with the One who is Sovereign over it all. If you don’t prioritize this, then you will never find the time. The little things will consume you; yet, this is your most important priority.
  2. Family – how much time do you actually spend with those you love the most? Think about it. Again, if you don’t schedule the time, the little things will keep you from truly experiencing the best things of life. You need to schedule date nights with your spouse. You need to schedule vacations with your family. You need “Family Fun Nights” and other times to just sit, talk and laugh. If you don’t schedule it, then homework, sports, tv, social media and all the other little things will consume your life.
  3. Church – you need the Body of Christ, and the Body of Christ needs you. Prioritize Sunday morning services, Community Group, Wednesday nights at church for your kids, etc. Church keeps you grounded and focused on God, His Word and His people – the three things that are eternal; everything else will fade away. Prioritize what will last.
  4. People – people matter. Don’t let your schedule consume you so much that you miss out on making a difference in the lives of others. Make time for your friends. You and I need godly people around us. As Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 tells us, “Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work; If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!” Having great friends takes time. And, make time to help others. Schedule a mission trip or commit to sponsoring a child. Put this big rock named “People” into your jar; otherwise, you’ll never get around to it.
  5. Your potential – God created you, and He wants you to fulfill your full potential in Him. Always be moving toward the goal God has for your life. Carve out time to read, pray, write and dream. Don’t let the urgent drown out your deep desires. God created you to do and be your best. Refuse to settle for the excuses of “I can’t” or “there’s not enough time” to keep you from fulfilling your dreams. God is with you, and He is for you. Even if it is only 15-30 minutes a day, make sure that every day you are moving forward to accomplishing your God-given potential.

Truth is – we all have the same amount of time; it is just how we use it. We all have big rocks and little beans. It really comes down to how we put them into the jar of our life. It is not about more time – we don’t get any more time – only 24 hours in a day, 7 days in a week, 52 weeks in a year. The people who achieve the true great things in life are the ones who prioritize the big rocks first.

A dad recently told me, “We let gymnastics rule our lives, and we forgot the things that were really important. We stopped coming to church, and we were not spending time with God or with our family. We were taking our daughter to gymnastics five nights a week, and we were stressed-out and falling apart. We had to make the decision of what is really important.” We all have to make that decision of what is really important. And, what you will find is that if you put the big rocks in first, then all the other little things find a way to fit in. You establish the priorities, and all the little things get done as well (or, the ones that don’t matter fall away).

Take time to look at your schedule. Evaluate it and be honest. Seasons in life change, so you need to take an inventory at the beginning of each new calendar year as well as at the beginning of every new school year. Do you have the five big rocks in your jar? Have you established the priorities of your life? If not, then take the time to make the change. You will be glad you did, and you might be surprised – but, everything will fit in the jar.

My Top 10 Highlights from the Summer of 2016

My Top 10 Highlights from the Summer of 2016

Let me start by saying: I love summer! I love the time of ministry, missions and special time with my family. I love the change of schedule, pace and even the warmer weather. While every summer is special, this past summer seemed to top some of my favorites so far. Let me share why:

My Top 10 Highlights from the Summer of ’16:

10. Our summer study of the book of Daniel at church. What an amazing time of digging deep into God’s Word. If you missed any of the sermons, go back and watch the podcasts…you won’t regret it!

IMG_52269. Mabry’s Birthday Celebration. My middle daughter turned 10 – double digits! We had a “Fiesta” themed party with a taste test for the best queso (with me having grown up in San Antonio, our family eats a lot of Mexican food). Plus, a special trivia game: Facts about Mabry. I love her!

8. Rolling Hills Summer Camp. Camp is always so special to me, and this one was one of the greats! So many children and students making life-long commitments for Christ. My wife, Lisa, and our 3 daughters loved it. The Rolling Hills Family Ministry Team did a wonderful job! Read about camp here.

7. Incredible week with just our family. The summer is always full of friends and ministry, but it was so refreshing to just be the five of us for one week. We had new adventures, discovered a new beach, laughed a lot, ate even more and just loved being together!

IMG_45866. Taking Grace, my oldest daughter, to Washington D.C. for her 12th Birthday. Lisa takes the girls somewhere when they turn 10, and I take them on a two-day trip somewhere when they turn 12. Grace turned 12, and we had an absolute blast being together and learning. Read about it here.

5. Baptizing a friend and then watching him turn around and baptize his daughter. I love seeing life-change in people. And, when a dad yields his life to Christ it impacts the entire family as well as generations. I’m thankful for so many being baptized this summer!

4. Beholding the sheer beauty of God’s creation  in Yellowstone. We joined some friends at the beginning of the summer, and it was my first time to Yellowstone. Wow! God’s creation is breath-taking. Bison, Moose, waterfalls, and more. I’m still filled with awe!

3. The last night of our Moldova Mission Trip celebrating the graduation of some of our JMI Transitional Living students. Absolutely incredible! It is awesome to see God changing lives before our eyes. Read about it here. If you have never been on an international mission trip with JMI, then at some point – go.

2. Opening the box of my first book – “Immeasurably More.” I never planned to write a book, but God said, “Tell My Story.” It took a long time, but I am so excited to share what God has been doing here with others. Simply, asking our God to use it to impact lives for His glory.

IMG_49331. Baptizing my youngest daughter, Kate. As a dad, it just doesn’t get any better than this! Every time I watch this video I tear up. I love my daughter and my God so much! What a gift that, because of Christ, we will be together forever. I am so proud and thankful for my Kate. Read about her baptism here.

All glory to our great God!

What were your summer highlights? Take time to write them down. If you just move on to the busyness of the fall, then pretty soon you won’t even remember what God did in your life, family, and ministry. It will just be another summer and another year gone by. Take the time to celebrate what God has done, and thank Him for His blessings in your life. I am so thankful!

Do something today that your future self will thank you for.

We hired a Moldovan Band…

It was graduation night in Moldova. There were 11 students graduating from our Justice & Mercy International Transitional Living program and moving into the Independent Living program. All of these kids grew up in the orphanages throughout Moldova. They never had much of a chance of success – until now. And, this called for a celebration!

In Moldova, the statistics of what happens to kids when they have to leave the orphanages at age 15 or 16 are overwhelming. Sex-trafficking. Organized crime. Suicide. But, through JMI and by God’s grace we are seeing that change. Surrounded by their 12 Moldovan Staff Leaders – house parents, social worker, phycologist, vocational director and more – as well as 31 Americans (our Mission Team from Rolling Hills), and 50 of the other transitional living and independent living students, these 11 graduates received their diplomas.

This marked a huge milestone for them. In the program, they have been discipled in Christ, learned to speak English, received additional education (high school equivalent) and been taught character, self-esteem, work ethic and integrity. These kids are sharp, and they are ready. Most people with any ounce of initiative in Moldova merely leave the country. But these kids are now prepared to change the country.

So, we hired a Moldovan band and we made it a celebration! These graduates are just as smart, talented and gifted as anyone their age in America. The difference – opportunity and someone to believe in them. In the America, many kids have parents who teach them, give them advice and believe they can do anything. In Moldova, these kids don’t have parents, or really anyone who believes in them. In America, our kids have opportunities for college, universities, and well-paying jobs. In Moldova, you need connections to attain more eduction and good jobs are hard to come by. In fact, a decent paying job can range from $100 to $300 a month. A month! Think about trying to live on that.

But, now these kids have three things necessary to succeed: 1. Jesus – they know Christ and He is with them. They know an inner peace, a joy and a purpose in life. 2. An opportunity – because of JMI they have access to universities (we even have one graduate going to med school) and through our vocation director, access to good jobs. 3. Someone to believe in them – because of having a sponsor (an American Christ-follower who has been helping them) and because of our JMI Staff in Moldova, they have people who believe in them. And, if you have someone who believes in you, there is nothing that can stop you!

IMG_5193Therefore, we had to hire a Moldovan band and celebrate. And celebrate we did. We had food, a big JMI cake and lots of Moldovan & Russian traditional dances. Everyone loved it! All the kids were in awe. Most of them have never had a birthday party in their life, much less a huge celebration. We wanted to mark the moment and to let the graduate know that they are valued and celebrated for their hard work. Also, we wanted to set the stage for the ones coming behind them. The American high school seniors on our team said it was better than their prom at home. It really was one of the best nights ever!

I think this is so much like our God. Remember, when the prodigal son came home, what did the Dad do? He threw a party. And, I bet his party was incredible! There was food (fatted calf), and I bet a cake, and I am sure traditional dances – and who knows, maybe even a Moldovan band with a xylophone and a violin. I am sure that this party was better than prom. How awesome that we have a God who gives us His Son, who offers us the opportunity to be adopted into His family, and who believes in us. This should cause us to celebrate! As well as to throw parties for those who, because of His love and grace, now have a hope and a future. You see, we had to hire a Moldovan band!

 

1

Why I Encourage Every Parent to Send Their Kids to Summer Camp

2

Yesterday, I was with a couple hundred children, students and adults at our Rolling Hills Summer Camp. Everyone was having such a fun time with smiles everywhere and lots of laughter. Worship was powerful and God-filled! At Rolling Hills, we put a lot of energy, resources and time into our Summer Camp, and as a result, we feel that it is one of the best in the country!

I truly believe every family should make camp a priority each summer for their child and student. Here’s why:

1. It’s Life-Impacting

Taking a week to be away from all their screens allows kids to truly hear from God (In fact, this could make a huge impact on all of us). Being away from all the distractions of social media creates an environment for students to focus on what really matters in life – God, their family, real friends and living a life that honors Him. Students are able to re-prioritize their life and make commitments to God that will have a profound impact on helping them become godly young men and women. Being a Student Pastor for 10 years, I witnessed many students return home from Camp different people. Their parents, family and friends would talk about the difference – “They used to speak to me so disrespectfully, but now they tell me they love me.” Or, “They used to treat their siblings like this, but now they include them.” It is life-changing.

2. It’s Relationship-Forming

Kids need good, strong relationships in order to be successful in life (we all do). First, kids need adults in their lives (besides their parents) who will speak truth, challenge and encourage them in the Lord. It is amazing how, as a parent, you can say something and your kids dismiss it, but someone else says it and your kids think it is the greatest thing they have ever heard! It is worth every penny to have other, godly adults affirming and speaking truth into your kid’s lives. Kids have enough bad influence from the world, they need godly influence. They need adults, both at Camp and afterwards, who will be available to them throughout the years, where they can ask hard questions and find godly answers

In addition, kids need friends. They need to be around other good kids who share their same faith in Christ and desire to live their life for Him. They have enough “peer pressure” at school, on social media and in the world. They need friends who will encourage and challenge them in the Word and in the truth of God’s love. Proverbs 13:20 can be summed up, “You are known by the company you keep.” This is so true for kids. Helping them develop godly friendships at church will impact the rest of their life.

3. It’s Really Fun!

Kids need to have fun. Kids are growing up in a world of stress and anxiety. In fact, research shows that more kids are struggling with anxiety and being medicated today than ever before. There are many factors, but the truth is that kids are having to grow up faster. There is so much pressure in the world from school, sports and even the tragedies they see on tv. They need to have fun, laugh and have a place to just be a kid.

Camp is stress relief. It is joy-filled. There are fun games, laughter and lots of smiles. Camp is spiritually transformational, but also emotionally invigorating. It is joy for the soul and so nourishing. Proverbs 17:22 says, “A cheerful heart is good medicine.” Kids need a dose of Summer Camp to rejuvenate their spirit.

Throughout the summers ahead, I encourage every parent to make Camp a priority for your kids. Plan for it, save for it (I have three kids there right now and it adds up, but it is worth it), schedule for it and just do it. Do it for your kids, and, at some point, do it for you as well. Maybe you didn’t grow up going to Camp. At some point, be an adult leader. The adults have as much fun as the kids. Seriously, for all the same reasons for sending your kids to Summer Camp, you need to go yourself. Review the list, and put it on your calendar.

As I reflect on my own personal life journey, Summer Camp was always one of my favorite weeks of the year. It was at Camp that I made many friendships. It was at Camp in my 9th grade year, that I first felt called to ministry. It was at Camp that I developed a deep passion for God’s Word and prayer. It was at Camp that I grew exponentially in my faith. It was at Camp, as an adult leader, that I walked with many students as they made life-altering decisions for Christ. I am so thankful for Summer Camp.

To all the Campers at RH Summer Camp, but also at Camps all over the country this summer – I am praying for you! May our God move in a mighty way in your life and may you return home different because of your time with Him.

To all the adult Leaders at RH Summer Camp, but also at Camps all over the country – Thank you! Thank you for the difference you are making for Christ and His Kingdom. If you ever wonder if you are making a difference, just look at me and many of my friends who had leaders like you pour into us as kinds. You are raising up the future leaders of the Church, and I thank you!

Join in what God is doing and make sure Summer Camp is a priority for your family each year!

South Africa Mission Trip

I recently returned from an amazing mission experience with our South Africa Mission Team. For over six years, Rolling Hills has been investing in South Africa. Our ministry has centered in a special place called Red Hill, the population of which ranges between 800-1,200 people. This is definitely a place of poverty, but there is something powerful happening just below the surface…

When we arrived in Red Hill we divided into three teams – Garden, Construction and Preschool training. The Garden team took on the task of developing a large garden to provide food for the community. Phillis and her husband, William live in the home by the garden. Phillis already feeds 27 people in need in Red Hill, and her dream has been to have a garden to feed 100+. There was a look of grateful joy and sheer amazement as she watched her dream come true. Our construction team spent the day building out the roof on the Living Hope club facility. They are doing a great job working with people in the community to see this come together. In addition, our preschool team spent time training leaders of the two preschools in Red Hill.

One of my favorite parts of the mission trip thus far is seeing what God is doing through our very own missionary, Lesli Crawford. She is truly the “Mother Theresa” of Red Hill. Whenever she drives into the community, the kids immediately flock to her. Lesli is a true gift from God, and she is making a huge difference for the Kingdom. I am so thankful for her heart and her ministry!

After this work, came the kids! Kid’s Club today was absolutely incredible! About 94 kids aged 3-10 came bounding to the building ready to sing, dance, and hear about Jesus! It was so fun! The kids immediately jumped into our arms only to find love and acceptance. They sang songs about Jesus, listened to our Bible Story, carefully worked on their craft, prayed with sincerity and waited patiently for us to give them a meal – which might be their only one of the day. God was there! As we all sang “How Great is our God,” tears filled my eyes. To look around and see the difference God is making through His church in Middle Tennessee in the lives of precious children half-way around the world. I truly thought, “Only God! Only God can do something like this!”

I am so thankful for all who invest in this incredible ministry. Thank you for your prayers, your time, your giving and your constant investment. God is using us in a mighty way for His glory! Your obedience is making a huge difference. I am so thankful for Brent, Jason, Lesli, Ethan, Mark, Zach, Emily, Sam and Nathan who have come year after year to serve in this place. I am thankful for Sara, Steve, Tama, Conner and Claudia who are here now investing in God’s work. And, I am thankful for each of you! It takes all of us working, praying, giving and serving together to make this kind of impact.

As Galatians 6:9 says, “Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” We are planting seeds here in Red Hill – not just seeds in a garden that will feed over 100 people, but seeds of the Gospel that will impact generations! Many of these seeds we are already seeing sprout up in Christ. God is alive and moving Red Hill. And, I believe, the best is yet to come!