OB… What’s that?

OB Logo

Operation Barnabas. What is it?

WELL… Operation Barnabas (OB) is run under the parent organization CE National. Based in Winona Lake, Indiana, CE runs many different venues of ministry, including Urban Hope Training Center in Philadelphia and Momentum Youth Conference. (We have over 80 of our own students going to Momentum this year!) For more information about CE National, click here.

OB began 40 years ago when a group of 16 high school students, under the leadership of two couples, went “on tour” in Ohio and Indiana performing programs in churches. Though the program has evolved over the years, the heart of the program still aims to train students in ministry with the goal of each student being able to dig deep into the ministry of their local church. Over the 6+ weeks of travel, the students are exposed to and participate in many different kinds of evangelism and serving. The tour concludes at Momentum, where the students debrief and are reunited with their church for a week of learning, worship, service, and FUN. For more information about Operation Barnabas, visit their website!

Grace Church has many connections with Operation Barnabas. We financially support Timothy Kurtaneck (TK), Director of OB. We have also sent dozens of our own GSM students on Operation Barnabas in years past…Check out some testimonies at the end of this post! Many come back with a renewed desire to pour into their local church. One of our GSM alumni is leading the OB International team in the Philippines right now! (See more about here trip here.)

Though there aren’t any GSM students on OB this year, we still have the opportunity to pray for these high schoolers who are taking big steps in their life. To receive updates from the OB teams, go HERE or visit their blog HERE.

If you will be between your sophomore year of high school and freshman year of college next summer, you can apply for Operation Barnabas! Email Jeremiah here AND visit OB’s website here! Applications for OB 2015 will be available at the end of July.

 OB opened my eyes to how powerful God is and how he can work through young people to spread the gospel. Being a teenager, it showed me the importance of reaching out to the lost, it also showed me how to be selfless in a world filled with self righteous people. It pushed me to step out of my element to do things I would never have done, in order to bring others to salvation. It is the most life altering experience that will set a solid foundation for your walk with Christ. -Janelle Burton 2008

Operation Barnabas is a ministry training trip that God used to open my eyes to ministry and the many ways that God can use me. It was truly a life changing experience for me as I learned to love others more deeply, see the needs around me and go meet them myself, and to have open conversations about the Gospel with whoever I came into contact with. It was a summer of taking me out of my comfort zone and putting me in situations where my only choice was to rely on God and allow Him to shape and mold me. -Jade Landis 2009

My first summer on OB was as a student in 1998. That was the summer that God showed me – through the input of my leaders – that I had some leadership gifts that needed developed and used for God’s purposes. That summer included my first experiences preaching, and speaking in front of a crowd. It also jump-started a more intense discipleship process in my life. It was that summer on OB when I understood the need to take God and my life (which is His) more seriously. I went on OB again as a student in 2000 after my senior year in high school – they were either really desperate for guys or I didn’t “get it” the first time around! Regardless, I continued to grow in my leadership abilities through that summer. I returned as an OB leader in 2001 and 2004, and Renee and I were Administrative leaders of a team in 2006. In addition, we’ve hosted several OB teams and orientation at Grace Church. This ministry has impacted my life significantly, and has had a major impact on our church and our community as well! -Doug Kegarise 1998, 2000

I went on Operation Barnabas in 2001, as a 16 year old going into my junior year in high school. I was very nervous about being away from friends and family for over 6 weeks but it was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. I walked away from a summer of ministry feeling healed from old wounds, loving my Savior in a new, deeper way than I ever had before, and with a clearer picture of where the Lord wanted to take me in the future. It was a stretching, growing time for me and I’m so thankful I had the opportunity to go! Operation Barnabas wants to develop 3 things in it’s students: 1. A heart for full time ministry, 2. A heart for the lost, and 3. A heart for encouraging others. I truly feel like all three of these were more fully developed in me during my summer on OB. While I haven’t (yet) felt called to vocational full time ministry, I have a higher purpose in my daily work, parenting and coaching athletics – seeing others put their hope in Christ and living for Him, and I truly have grown from encouraging and being encouraged by other believers! OB has had a lasting influence on my life. -Genna Antes 2001

 

What’s a Blister Worth?

If you’ve been reading the blog the last week or so, you know that Zach & Rachel Peters were part of a team who did ministry in Portugal and Spain associated with the St. James Way (or Camino de Santiago). Cross-cultural experiences have a lasting impact on people, and continue to teach them lessons for years to come. Rachel is still learning as she reflects on her trip to Ireland with Grace Student Ministries in 2009. But the Camino trip was Zach’s first time outside of the U.S. – which, in and of itself can have a large impact on someone.

Below, Zach and Rachel share some tidbits of what they learned through this experience. Please pray for them – and for all those who Grace Church sends out – as they process their experiences and apply the lessons learned to their daily lives!

Arriving in Santiago!
Arriving in Santiago!

From Zach:

  • It was amazing to see that God’s creation doesn’t just exist in our own little world
  • Seeing Abel’s (a Portuguese national who does ministry on the St. James Way) trust in God could be overwhelming; “It’s okay” was a phrase we heard almost too often
  • It was crazy to see how far people walk in search of something spiritual
  • The scenery was nothing short of a miracle

camino ocebreiro

From Rachel:

  • The Camino is such a huge metaphor for life. The baggage we carry, how much we really need to survive, the simplicity of friendship, the necessity of getting out of bed each morning (despite the blisters and exhaustion), and the fact that we just have to “keep walking” to get anywhere are just a few examples of the undeniable parallels to “normal” life.
  • So many people that I met were searching for “something more,” whether they would admit it out loud or not. Our group was able to speak truth into their lives in a small way because we already have the assurance of our future through Christ. We were able to share meals, conversations, and lots of miles with many different people. Please join me in praying for a few of these “seekers” that I was able to meet: Kay and John (Ireland); Kate and Daniel (USA); Colin, Haley, Alejandro, and Alexis (USA); Fabian (Germany); Bev and her sisters (Canada)
  • It was incredible to be able to experience life outside of my normal comfort zone. God is SO big, and I am frequently too focused on the back roads of Lancaster County to acknowledge it.
Abel serving a "family dinner" to the team and three guests.
Abel serving a “family dinner” to the team and three guests.

Blisters for One; Blisters for All (Camino Update)

As of the time this post was drafted, every member of Zach’s & Rachel’s St. James Way team was blistered! It’s all part of the experience (and instead of posting any photos, I will let you experience it in person one day when you walk the St. James Way)!

Before you read some highlights from the past few days, be sure to check out the previous entries HERE, HERE, and HERE.

Monday, 6/16

The team reported that their Sunday night dinner was a hit – Abel prepared dinner for the team as well as for 3  invited Canadian pilgrims, 2 invited American pilgrims, and an additional Estonian, Italian and 2 additional American pilgrims who were welcomed, though not invited! The spirit of our team’s hospitality speaks volumes (most pilgrims don’t have cooked meals along the Camino because purchasing groceries, and cooking in a shared, hostel kitchen is too complicated and expensive)! In addition, “the nations” relaxing around dinner tables at the end of a long journey birth hours of story-telling and Truth-sharing. Is this what Heaven will be like?! The team leader reported the following from Monday:

Today we stopped at the Fuente del Peregrino (Pilgrim’s Fountain) – an albergue staffed by volunteers of Campus Crusade in a tiny hamlet. It’s a popular place with free coffee, hugs, and beds and a meal by donation. Interestingly, Abel knocked on the door of the house across the street and chatted with the people there. Then he searched out and found a mentally disabled boy who was playing near the Fuente. Abel then dug around in his backpack and pulled out a Portugal soccer jersey he had brought as a gift for the boy…This time it was the Campus Crusade volunteers who were ministered to as they watched in awe. It was such a touching moment and “classic Abel”.

Camino.Rachel.Abel

Tuesday, 6/17

Tuesday was the longest day of hiking thus far – 28.8 kilometers (18 miles)! So the team woke up early to get as many miles in before the heat of the day. The day’s walk started out easy, but ended difficult with mountainous terrain and blistering heat (no pun intended)! Two team-members accidentally walked an extra mile and a half when they missed the day’s stopping point. Too bad you can’t refund excess miles! After settling in to the day’s resting place, Abel headed to the supermercado (grocery store) to purchase ingredients for another multi-national dinner! This time the team was joined by a German, 3 Americans, and 2 Spaniards. The team witnessed a beautiful display of Abel’s character (beyond his culinary and evangelistic gifts). The team leader reported:

…Abel was well respected by each of our guests, so we asked him to say grace…in Spanish. He did, but he didn’t close his eyes to say it. Instead, he held a long, powerful conversation with God giving thanks for the many blessings of the Camino while looking firmly and steadily into the eyes of each of our guests. It was a priceless demonstration of faith and we were privileged to be a part of it.

Camino.Dinner

Wednesday, 6/18

Wednesday’s leg was “only” 12 miles: A little ironic, since it was the day that the final team-member joined the blistered-foot club! (Again, I’ll spare you photos…I have them)! I heard from Rachel today who reported how much she has benefited from meeting people from all over the world. She has met people from several countries who seem to be walking at the same pace and beginning and ending each day in the same towns. This has allowed some ongoing dialogue with several people who are in a similar stage of life as she is, including several spiritual conversations. Rachel shared about a couple who met on the Camino and have been walking for a couple months. The young lady shared that with each kilometer, she gets more and more sad approaching the final destination, because the Camino has been a means of escaping “real life”; she is dreading the return. This is one example of the kind of reasons people walk the St. James Way – escape.

The team leader summarized things this way: Many of the older peregrinos have suffered loss or are looking for something missing from their lives. Many of the younger peregrinos are on the Camino to avoid the responsibilities and pressures of the real world or they are having a last fling before entering adulthood. Our group may have similar motivations, but the main mission is on bringing Christ to this very receptive group of people. So we walk with the same aches and pains, but we are trying hard [to focus] on others, not ourselves.

There are a lot of lessons to be learned in these final days and new, challenging circumstances! Again, the team leader summarizes: …it’s our last day to spend with the many peregrinos we’ve met. Even though we’ve spend only a fairly short time with them, relationships form fast as peregrinos are very introspective and reflective as they near the end of what, for many of them, is a life changing experience.

The team will walk the final 20 kilometers today (Thursday) and arrive in Santiago. Please continue to pray for Zach, Rachel and their entire team – as they learn the lessons God has for them, and as they are salt and light for “the nations” who gather on the St. James Way! After arriving in Santiago, they will return (by bus or train) to Lisbon to fly back to the U.S.

Camino.Couple

Camino.Squid

Preparing to Send…Haiti

This Sunday morning we will have a time of prayer in our services as we send of Jade Landis (OBI Philippines) and another team to Haiti.

From July 12-19, 11 people from Grace Church will travel to Cap Haitian, Haiti, to visit the House of Hope (HOH) orphanage. Grace Church has been active with the children at HOH for several years: Many of the children are sponsored, individually, by Grace Church attenders; Grace Church has sponsored several building and development projects; and Grace Church has previously ministered at HOH through Vacation Bible School. This summer’s trip is a mix of several initiatives.

HaitiTeamJuly14

First, several members of our team will get to spend time with children they sponsor, individually. The opportunity to have face-to-face interaction with sponsored children is a real treat and blessing! Many people have orphan sponsors in places in the world that are impossible or very difficult to get to, so the orphan-sponsor relationship is limited to occasional mailings. Any bit of relationship is really precious, but human contact is incredibly special for both the sponsored child and the sponsor.

The team will also be throwing a birthday bash for all the orphans. As orphans, many of the children at HOH have no idea when their birthday is, and have had to guess about how old they are! So our team is determined to give them a celebration like none other, complete with special birthday treats, and gifts! It will be an awesome celebration!

The team’s main project will be a sort of “Vacation Bible School” for the children. This year, the team will really be focusing on discipleship “beyond” the one week visit from Grace Church. In other words, the team will work to equip the children to continue to growing spiritually after the team is gone. Eventually, we hope to actually train the children how to put on a VBS program that they can use to reach people in their community and beyond.

In addition to these projects, the team has committed to providing Creole Bibles to each of the children and the staff at the orphanage! These will be purchased in Haiti and wrapped in wrapping paper – presented to them at the birthday celebration!

Would you consider partnering with this team?

PRAY: Commit to praying for this team daily as they prepare and go! We’ll provide you with a helpful prayer card this week at church!

GIVE: The team still has a financial need! Between team needs, and the Bible project, the team needs approximately $5,000 yet. If you’re able, please consider giving to this team by marking your gift “Haiti team” or through online giving HERE.

SPECIAL PRAYER REQUEST:

You may have seen in the news recently that there is a virus making its way through the Caribbean that is carried by mosquitoes. Please pray for special protection for our team as they travel – they will be prepared to use precautionary measures (like mosquito nets and heavy-duty bug spray). In addition, be in prayer for the orphans and churches in Cap Haitian – many of whom have already been hit by this illness. It comes with a lot of joint pain.

 

Jade Landis in the Philippines

Jade Landis recently graduated from Lancaster Bible College with a degree in Social Work. Jade has been attending Grace Church for nine years and is an 11th grade girls POD leader on youth staff as well as a vocalist on the worship arts ministry team. Her passions for serving and investing in young people extend across the globe and she is leading a team of students on a trip to the Philippines this summer.

Jade 1

I have the opportunity to lead the Operation Barnabas International 2014 team to the Philippines from June 26-July 18. The group consists of 7 students and me. We will have a 2 day orientation out in Orange County, California and then fly to the Philippines on June 29th. From there we will serve almost 3 weeks on the islands of Boracay and Panay. Our team will be working with Dan and Tori Beaver who have served over there for many years with First Love International. This ministry is the same one that I worked with in 2010 with OBI as a student and again last year with Lancaster Bible College.

While there we will do manual labor to continue building the ministry center on the island of Boracay. In addition we will love on the children of the island at feeding sites. Feeding sites provide the opportunity for our students to share a Bible story, play games, feed a meal, complete simple wound care, and just love on these children who are sometimes neglected. We will also spend a few days traveling over the nearby island of Panay to work with the Ati Tribe. The Ati Tribe has bee neglected and forced to live up on the mountain in huts and without much civilization. Dan and Tori have worked with their staff to build a school up there for the Ati children so we will have the opportunity to do some tutoring up there as well as help with some Typhoon relief from November. In addition we will use some of the normal OB programming (puppets, dramas, pantomimes, choir songs, etc.) to share the Gospel in the local schools.

My role as the leader of OBI will be to be in communication with the missionaries as well as lead my team spiritually. Though I have been to the Philippines twice before and led Operation Barnabas last summer, this leadership position will be one that will stretch me. It will be a leadership role that will challenge me and push me to step up and lead in a new manner. I covet your prayers in many ways but especially as I prepare to lead this team.

Other specific prayer requests:

  1. That the hearts of the 7 students would be teachable
  2. Wisdom as I lead this team as a single female leader
  3. Many would come to know the Lord as their personal Savior
  4. That as a team of 8 we would be unified as one team with the same purpose
  5. That we would be an encouragement to the missionaries and their staff

Thank you for your support and prayers!

Jade Landis

Jade 2

Join us this Sunday at our 9:00am and 10:45am services for Jade’s church send off! We will post updates of her trip beginning the last week of June.

Grace Church has had significant involvement with Operation Barnabas (Domestic and International) for over 30 years, including sending many students and leaders from our church, hosting orientation at Grace Church, and providing finances for buses and other practical ministry needs. In addition, Grace Church financially supports “TK” (Timothy Kurtaneck) who is the Director of OB through the parent organization, CE National. For more information about Operation Barnabas and Operation Barnabas International, click HERE. If you are interested in going on OB or OBI, contact Jeremiah (Director of Student Ministries)

Camino Update from Zach & Rachel

We’ve received a few updates from Zach & Rachel’s team who are currently walking on the St. James Way in Spain. Here are some of the highlights:

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A view from O’Cebreiro, Spain – the team’s staring point

Friday, 6/13

The group is walking on the French route, which is more popular and has been featured in books and movies, so there are many “peregrinos” (pilgrims) walking with them. In fact, in the town the team started in (O’Cebreiro) there were no beds in any hostels because there are so many walkers. The team had a hard time finding beds at an “albergue” (hostel) Friday evening in Triacastela because of the large number of travelers, but eventually found a place where they would share rooms with some German’s and a Swede, which is good, because they had walked 21.5 kilometers through mountainous terrain and needed to rest! In addition German and Swedish nationalities, the first day of walking included interaction with Spanish, other Americans, Koreans, Dutch, Canadians, British, and Portuguese! The nations collide on the St. James Way!

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Hostels tend to be rather communal, but make rest along the long journey (some people hike for months) affordable. Bring ear-plugs!

In addition to being an evangelist, Abel, our national ministry partner who is walking with the team, is an amazing cook (Pastor Doug can attest to this)! So, Friday evening, Abel cooked for the team as well as the others staying at the hostel. This is a creative way of creating relational bridges into the lives of other pilgrims! Rachel reported that there is a unique culture on the Camino, where the simple greeting of “Buen Camino!” can open the door for conversation with people from anywhere in the world…assuming you have some bit of common language with which to communicate!

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Abel (left) is a Portuguese ministry partner who is walking with the team. He has a gift for connecting with people, including these two pilgrims he just met!

From the team leader: We start each morning off with a short Camino-themed devotion and we have a longer Camino-themed lesson at night. This morning we were reminded that when we welcome hungry strangers in to eat, or thirsty strangers in to drink, we’re essentially welcoming in Jesus. Thus, while hiking is physically demanding and takes much of our energy, sharing with other peregrinos is a much more important aspect of our Camino mission trip!

Saturday, 6/14

Saturday was a 13-mile walk which include walking through fog and sunshine, which concluded with a stay at an albergue whose owner spoke no English at all! This is a great character-forming experience for cross-cultural missions trippers; learning to communicate and minister when there is no common language.

Sunday, 6/15

The team joked that they are getting started later and later every day! It seems that they are adapting to the cultures that surround them that are less concerned about plans, schedules, and to-do lists! None-the-less, it was another full day of walking, including interaction with several other cultures, again: today it was Italians, Koreans, and Canadians. The team met also met a father/daughter combo who was walking the Camino to mourn the loss of their wife/mother to liver cancer – people come for many reasons that open the channels of communication and sharing life together.

Please continue to pray for the team as they walk, and particularly for their opportunities to share their Good News with people they meet. As the continue to approach the Camino’s end-point, the cathedral at Santiago, there will be more and more pilgrims. Also pray for their aching bodies, and for the spiritual lessons God wants them to learn through this process.

 

The Team of Pilgrims
The Team of Pilgrims

 

An Urgent Need for Another Worthy Summer Investment

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Grace Church has partnered with Camp Conquest (in Denver, PA) for decades. We currently support the camp ministry through missionary support for Brady Graham, as well as through many volunteer hours! In fact, the camp depends on 26,000 volunteer hours every year!

In 2007, Grace Church of Lititz gave 9,488 volunteer hours.

In 2010, Grace Church of Lititz gave 7,698 volunteer hours.

In 2013, Grace Church of Lititz gave 6,297 volunteer hours.

The summer camp season is almost here, and there is an URGENT need for counselors! The camp ministry is growing, and there are children who may have to be turned away if the need for counselors is not met! There are also needs for kitchen staff, maintenance, mowing, and program help. So please consider investing some hours – or an entire week – into children through a unique and extremely effective ministry that will have eternal impact!

You can sign up to volunteer AND check out a volunteer story (OF SOME FACES YOU MAY RECOGNIZE) HERE.

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Brady Graham and his Special Friend at Camp Conquest