Open Doors & Big Steps
Sometimes when God leads you to a door, He pushes you through it! We were simply looking for a place to go in Florida that would allow us to work in exchange for low rent, but we found so much more! We didn't really have any plans when coming to Florida. Our main goal was to not get established in jobs or ministry in the North, since we knew that was not home for us. Our plan was to trust God completely in coming down to Florida, as we did not have jobs waiting for us when we came down. We wanted to come to Florida and get to know people and find connections as we went. Yes, this confused people a bit since it is against the norm, but we put our faith and trust fully in God, and knew that He would lead us where He wanted us and to the right people/places at the right time. He always does!
Let's start back at the beginning. When we were at the Christians for World Evangelism golf tournament back in June, we asked some of the CWE people who live in Florida if they knew of any contacts that would have anything for us. The gave us a few names, and one was this camp. CWE had a work project at Camp Gilead planned for October as well (restoring a burned cabin), and we thought that we might be able to go on that as our first CWE trip since we would be somewhere in FL at that point. When they first told us to contact the camp back in June we weren't super keen on it, since we weren't sure we wanted to do camp ministry. We decided to do a little more research and contact some other places first, but they all weren't working out. As August was passing by and we were getting closer to the day we wanted to be out of the North (September 1st) we decided to give the camp a try. They said they would be happy to have us come down and volunteer for a few months to see if it was somewhere we would like to stay long-term, and there was no commitment if we didn't want to stay after a few months.
We truly came here without knowing much about the camp, which is unlike how a lot of others who have stayed here have done it. Most people here have experience with Children's Bible Ministries either here at Camp Gilead or at another one of their camps nationwide. Many of them knew exactly what they were getting into and what they would be doing! Since we have arrived, we have gotten to know the staff and learn more about the ministry. It has taught us more about camp ministry in general and changed our mindsets about it for sure! Once here they told us that they had some holes in their staff that need filled in areas that we are interested and skilled in. Luke has been doing maintenance/grounds work and Tawny has been doing work in the office with marketing and media related things (photography, graphic design, social media, website design, etc.) and the Bible lessons program, as well as some cleaning for the guest groups that come in and retreat here. These are things that we are truly passionate about, so they are good fits for us! We also get along well with the staff here which is a plus for anywhere you're going to be working. They are also very flexible and respectful of us and any future travel plans that we may have, which was important to us.
Although we were originally given a few months to make a final decision on if we're staying, the training program that future missionaries who are staying must attend is coming up in January (in Tennessee!), and that program was asking the directors here how many were planning on attending. They had to know by October 31st, so they asked us if we had decided yet. We had already prayed and talked about it a lot together, and we had decided that this is where we felt God wanted us to be (at least until He calls us somewhere else-- we are always open to His leading!) To serve here Full-Time, you are considered missionaries and must raise support (there are some volunteers here who are living on their retirement, so they do not). Raising support has always been something that we weren't sure we were comfortable with, especially after seeing how much you have to raise for some of the missions organizations! Part of our reservations about it was how long it takes to raise support, since we want to get involved with missions as soon as we can! Thankfully, we will not be paying for housing since we will be living at the camp, so the amount of support we need to raise will be doable. Also, the Lord has been changing our hearts on this while we have been here. It is encouraging to be around others who are raising/have raised support and see that it can be done! They have said that it's better to raise support before getting here, since there is that desire to be here and get started that helps with raising support! We have been living off of our savings this past month, but we know they won't last much longer!
As for our future housing situation, God is also opening doors. The camp has a small house (Tiny House for life!!) right on the grounds that we were told could be ours when we come full-time if we wanted. The house is in need of renovations but the camp directors told us that the renovations are in the plans for the near future. So once again, it looks like we are going to be entering back into the world of fixing up our future house. Tawny is excited to get to plan out how she wants the house to look and basically start from scratch! In the mean time, we will continue our tiny home living in our camper which we are continuing to enjoy.
We know that God has done this in the order He intended for us, since we're not sure we would have ever even considered something like this without doing things the way we did! It truly is awesome to look back and see how God has directed our steps and placed the people and places in our lives that we needed at just the right time.
If you would like to pray for us, here are some of our requests:
We must fill out a thorough application to begin the official missionary process. The board will look over our application and interview us! They must approve us before we move on to the next step.
In order to attend the missionary training in January, we have to raise the funds necessary for the training. At this training we will receive more detailed information and learn more about the mission of Children's Bible Ministries. We will also be learning skills and tips which will be helpful to us as we begin our journey of raising the support we will need to do full-time ministry here at the camp.
Since we will be missionaries, we are to be sent out by a home church. We will need to go through the process of being taken on at our sending church, and then be officially sent out by them!
Then we can officially start raising support to be full-time! We will be living and working at the camp during this time, so we will be living off our savings until we receive 75% support, or we will have to get jobs until we get our support. The camp doesn't want us to do this! They need our help and would like us to get our support as soon as we can so we can focus our full attention to the ministry!