JOY CAMP - FRIDAY, JULY 25
Today we concluded an extremely full week of Joy Camp. Every day our volunteers spent 12 hours planning skits, studying Revelations 1-3 as a group, enjoying fellowship with one another, prepping lessons and games, and serving the kids in neighboring communities. Even though some days this week called for rain, God kept the weather nice and sunny for us.
The lesson today asked the question, “Are you going?” In all of our sites the good conversations continued, and tonight we took time as a group to recount stories of how God worked this week.
• One of our volunteers was not feeling well and sat down. During the prayer before the cookout, she felt tiny hands on her shoulders. When the prayer was over she expected to see one of the girls she had on “one-on-one” time with. Instead, it was one of the little boys. This was particularly encouraging because this boy was having trouble getting along on other days at camp.
• Overall, there were reports of our volunteers having a genuine love for all of the kids. This was not just evident at Washington Square, but at all of our sites. None of our youth was trying to gain attention, but had soft, caring hearts. Because they trusted in the Lord, that led to being relaxed and being able to love the kids.
• One girl camper was shy at the beginning of camp. During the middle of the week she went up to our volunteers saying, “I want you to be my one-on-one partner!” By the end of the week she was doing the hand motions to the memory verses and participating in the camp enthusiastically.
• Yesterday, one of our adult volunteers was the last to leave the cookout. As she was leaving she got cut off. It ended up being a family from the community. The mom got out of the car and made sure that they got our contact information. “We need to keep in touch with you guys,” she said. There were several conversations with parents talking about how “there is something different” about our kids. They don’t just do their own thing and talk to themselves, but they really make an effort to really reach out to the kids.
• There was a 4-year-old camper who at the beginning didn’t seem to be understanding and was very fidgety. Today, when everyone else was getting ready for game time, he turned to his one-on-one partner and said, “Why don’t we just sit down right here and talk about Jesus?”
• An 11-year-old girl camper expressed to one of our volunteers that she enjoyed any skit he was in because he was so happy, and that there wasn’t a lot of happiness in her family. Seeing how happy the volunteers were made her realize that there is still happiness in the world. Later she asked Jesus to be her Lord and Savior!
• By week’s end, one boy camper who was very shy on Monday was running down the sidewalks when our team was pulling into the Elementary School exclaiming, “They’re here! They’re here!”
• Another girl came up to one of our volunteers and said that she saw on the flyer that Joy Camp was for ages 7-14. “I turn 15 next year,” she said. “What happens next year when I turn 15?!” She then tried to convince the site leader that they needed to extend the ages from 7-21 or older.
Joy Camp could not have happened without your prayers! Let’s continue to pray for our neighbors close by the church.
JOY CAMP - THURSDAY, JULY 24
Day 4 of Joy Camp is complete! God has given us all super natural strength to get through the week, and His light is shining through us.
Today we talked about how we get ready to go to heaven. In 2 Peter 3:9 it says that the Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise, but is patient toward us. He does not wish that anyone should perish, but that all should repent and believe. In order to get ready for heaven we are called to live lives of holiness and godliness, hastening the coming of God. This includes no longer living selfishly for ourselves, waiting for heaven, and believing in God’s promises.
Tonight our sites all had community cookouts. This is not only a time for our volunteers to continue developing friendships with the campers, but it also gives us a chance to reach out to the communities around our church. Many parents of our youth came out for this cookout as well, and it was encouraging to see the conversations between the parents and the adults in the community. A few of our youth at Laytonia were even able to reconnect with a parent tonight, and she really opened up about her struggles. This allowed them to pray for her and her family to know the peace and love of God.
Tomorrow is our last day! We will be talking about Philippians 3 and if we are going to heaven. Please continue to pray that hearts would be softened and open to receive the gospel.
JOY CAMP - WEDNESDAY, JULY 23
We are halfway through our week at Joy Camp. Exhaustion is starting to set in, but God has continued to give us strength and there are still great things going on at our sites. Thank you so much for praying for us these past few days!
Today, we talked about what exactly we do once we get to heaven. We have learned that we are God’s children. In Revelation 22:3 we find out that God’s servants will worship Him. We also learn that God’s people will have fun helping God to run His kingdom.
In addition to learning more about heaven through skits, songs, and a short lesson, the kids enjoyed making sponge stars and participating in water games. This was quite wonderful with the weather being so hot today.
Here are a few updates on how our sites are doing:
• Many of the kids at this site are feeling so cared for by our youth. The relationships are continuing to develop, and the kids’ understanding level is increasing. They were even asking specific questions about the memory verse for the day.
• There were some older guys who came yesterday to camp who also came today and were really engaged in the games and throughout the time at camp.
• We had at least 30 campers join us today! Such an answer to prayer!
• There is one boy who is very close to accepting Jesus as His Savior. Continue to pray for Him and the rest of the campers that their hearts will be softened to the gospel.
• One of our volunteers talked with a girl age 5 or 6 about what she thought heaven was like, which led to a conversation about the Garden of Eden. It was encouraging to hear how she eagerly engaged with these biblical stories at such a young age.
• One 13-year-old boy who only speaks Spanish and was apprehensive about joining camp on Monday. One of his friends was telling him about camp and how much fun it was, but this boy told him, “Why would I go to a camp if I can’t understand it?” One of our volunteers speaks both Spanish and English and has been able to reach out to this boy. Now he is enjoying himself and participating in the games and activities. This boy has been in the United States for only a month, so it is exciting that we get to play a part and make a difference in his first few days here.
God has been doing wonderful things this week. Continue to pray that they will continue! Tomorrow we are talking about how we get ready to go to heaven. We are also having our traditional cookout at our sites. This is not only a time for our youth and the kids to have fun, but also a time to reach out to the families in the community. Thanks for your prayers!
JOY CAMP - TUESDAY, JULY 22
After breakfast this morning, our volunteers started off the day worshiping God and spending time in His Word. By 10 a.m. our teams were at their sites serving in their neighborhoods.
Today, we talked about who gets to go to heaven. We used John 14 to find out that Jesus is going to prepare a place for those who believe in God. How do we know the way to get to heaven? Jesus has said that only He is the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Him (vs 6). Overall, in all of the sites, the kids are understanding more and asking many deep questions. They are not just repeating back the “right answers” but actually know the answers and want to know more.
Here are a few highlights from the different sites:
• It has been encouraging to see how the skits are helping to apply the lesson. Kids are really engaged in the skits and can tell you the main point of the skits.
• The older guys who were distant yesterday, were more engaged, understood more of the lesson, and wanted to know more about Jesus. This is such an answer to prayer!
• There was a girl camper who had surgery today, and some of our volunteers went to go check on her. She was sitting on the porch waiting for her parents to get back from the store. When her parents got home she begged them to let her go to camp. Even though her leg was in a cast and she had just had surgery she was excited to be at Joy Camp.
• There was another boy camper who expressed concerns about being afraid of dying. Our volunteers were able to talk with him about heaven and that if you put your faith in Jesus you can live eternally with Him. He wasn’t sure if he wanted to go to heaven because he wasn’t sure if his family or friends would be there. Through more conversations he volunteered that he wanted to follow Jesus. Because he heard of Jesus’ death in his place to take his sin, he deeply expressed a desire to repent of his sin and accept Jesus as his Savior.
• At each site the teams do “one-on-one” time, where campers break up with our volunteers to have deeper conversations about the lesson. A 5-year-old girl camper was asked “How do you think you get to heaven?” Her response was certain, as certain as a 5-year-old can get. “Well, you go to a hospital. Then the people at the hospital call God, and then God comes and picks you up.” She may not have this all straight, but it is exciting to see such conversations happening at such a young age!
• A 7-year-old girl camper during “one-on-one” time shared that to get to heaven you have to believe that Jesus saved you, and also do good works to please the universe. Our volunteer was able to sit down and talk with her and told her that it’s not about what you do to get to heaven and that our works don’t get us to heaven. The girl asked deep questions about it, which is encouraging because she wouldn’t have done that in past years.
• There are a lot of Spanish-speaking families in this neighborhood. One of our volunteers noticed that there was an adult in the corner who was keeping to herself, pushing a small child on the swings. Our volunteer reached out to her and had a conversation with her in Spanish. When she heard her native language being spoken her face lit up. All the different generations are being reached in this community. Praise God!
• Yesterday we did not have as many campers as we normally have in past years. But today we had 23 kids! Not only did the kids from yesterday come back, but they also brought friends!
• There was a girl camper whose friends were giving her a hard time about going to Joy Camp. But she stood up to them and said that she really enjoyed coming to Joy Camp and that it was fun.
The past two days have been exciting and exhausting. But God has been doing so many wonderful things in the past 48 hours. Our youth have been stretched and are willing to go where the people are, getting out of their comfort zones, and are reaching out. Please continue to pray for us and that more kids will respond to the Gospel.
JOY CAMP - MONDAY, JULY 21
This week started a full week of youth local missions. We have over 100 youth and adult volunteers reaching out to four different neighborhoods in a 10 mile radius of the church. Our teams are spread out in the Washington Square, Laytonia, Emory Grove, and South Lake Elementary School neighborhoods. Every day each location does a variety of activities including skits, singing, a short lesson and a craft.
The theme for this week is heaven. Today we took time to discuss what heaven actually is. Using Revelation 21 as our text, we found out that heaven is a place where God will dwell with man and they will be his people. Heaven is also a happy place. God will wipe away every tear, and death shall be no more. There will not be any mourning or crying or pain.
At most of the sites we had over 30 kids, many of whom have attended Joy Camp before. And we expect more kids to come tomorrow and throughout the week. All of the youth were very eager to participate and were always busy doing something. Many of the kids who have attended camp before recall the friendships they have made and were excited to see our youth. Some expressed to our youth how it was evident that they really love Jesus.
At every site many kids remembered information from previous years about Jesus, God, and the basics of the gospel. Throughout the afternoon many good conversations were happening between the campers and our youth. The campers are asking great questions, and this shows that they are engaged in the lesson and want to go deeper into Scripture.
As we continue the week we would still love your prayers:
- • Pray for a girl who gave her life to God a few years ago, that our youth who interact with her will be able to effectively communicate the gospel and encourage her faith in the midst of obstacles.
- • Kids were asking many excellent questions after the lesson, including questions about what heaven is and what hell is. Pray that they would continue to understand the message, and that our youth will be able to have fruitful conversations with these kids.
• Pray for strength in the heat. Laytonia is one of our sites that is outside for the whole time. Pray that our youth will stay hydrated.
- • Pray for our youth that they will be able to know how to talk to the kids about Jesus. Pray that it would be an easy transition from common conversations to conversations about the gospel.
• There are several older boy campers at this site who are not very interested in camp. There are not as many older boys from our group at the site who can reach out to them. Pray that their hearts will be open and that they would be interested in learning more about Jesus.
- • Pray for more campers!! Word about camp was not advertised a lot, so today there were 18 kids who participated. Pray that the flyers passed out would produce an increase in campers.
• Pray that the campers would be more comfortable and be engaged in the lesson
It is evident that God has already blessed our first day of camp. In general, continue to pray that God will pour out His blessing on our week. Pray that the campers will be responsive to what we are sharing and that lives would be changed this week.
“To the praise of Your Glory, To the praise of Your mercy and grace. To the praise of Your glory, You are the God who saves!” (Come Praise and Glorify, Sovereign Grace Music)
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July 21 2014 at 2:13 pm 0 Comments
Worthy14 is our high school ministry’s annual summer retreat where we get away from our normal surroundings and the busyness of life.
A Worthy13 camper: “At the retreats, talking about God is a natural thing, and I loved being able to bring up the Lord in conversation with my friends, whether we were playing pool or walking on the beach… the atmosphere is so spiritually rich.”
“The incredible opportunity to grow closer to God by focusing on Him and spending time with His people at the retreats is not to be passed up.”
This year, we will be taking time to look at the question, “How will my life change if I actually believe the Bible is absolutely true?”
Each year God meets us in incredible ways through times of worship and teaching, lots of games and times of fellowship throughout the day as we seek His face together.
Hip Hop Artist and Speaker, Brian Davis, is coming this year, and will be teaching us along with Jon Smith, Joshua Harris, and of course, Dave Brewer.
As you’ve probably heard in their baptism testimonies, every year teens come back with a renewed love for God and excitement for learning about him and loving him more.
We are all about having a good time at Worthy, and you can be sure that you will come away from with awesome memories! We want you to join us, both to have a ton of fun and to be changed for God’s glory.
Families that are just visiting Covenant Life or have been attending church but not participating in the youth ministry are welcome to attend.
Registration is open and scholarships are available for those in need of financial assistance. We don’t want anyone to be turned away because of the cost.
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July 14 2014 at 3:06 pm 0 Comments
“The simple generosity of Covenant Life opening their building has left a huge ripple effect for the ministry, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, and people coming to know Christ around the globe,” said Maryland State Director of Fellowship of Christian Athletes (FCA) Mark Stephens, after another successful FCA sports camp at Covenant Life this past June.
If you happened to be at the church during the week, you would have seen hustling lacrosse sticks and whizzing footballs in the fields, soaring volleyballs and squeaking basketball shoes in the gyms, and teetering cartwheels and running flips in the lobby. At this “All In” Power Camp, about 200 eight to thirteen year-olds, 50 high school small group “huddle” leaders, and 50 adults participated.
Four people from Laos, Singapore, and Korea also came to observe, learn, and be trained to lead these camps in their own countries.
“These guys are pumped up. They are really going to go back and do something. There’s gonna be an incredible ripple effect from this camp,” Stephens shared. “This FCA camp at Covenant Life Church is a model for the world.”
A Vietnamese sports ministry leader came out to shadow Stephens a couple years ago and went on to lead two FCA camps in Taiwan and two in Vietnam. Since then, others have come for training: Reon from Singapore, Philip from Malaysia, and Suttisak from Thailand.
“Vietnamese kids left by the wayside that no one was going to interact with, kids who get one bowl of rice a day and have only the t-shirt on their back, were shown the love of Christ through sports,” Stephens shared.
“I was a pastor for 15 years,” Stephens said. “Sometimes as a church you think, ‘Oh, we’ll be nice and loan someone our building and not charge rent. We’ll do a good deed.’ This church has no idea the positive impact that it has made on this community and worldwide by their generosity of opening their doors. “
He shared that the hundreds of people who have come through Covenant Life’s doors for FCA camps have nothing but positive things to say about this church.
“Whether it’s the location, or the kindness, or how the staff works with us, it just keeps getting better… I’m forever grateful for the partnership that we have with Covenant Life and how they’ve supported us,” Stephens said. “I consider them friends, not just partners.”
“It’s been incredible to be here,” said camp director Hannah Cheung. “Churches don’t usually have three gyms and a couple fields. The facility has been perfect for the camp. It’s the smoothest camp I’ve done in six years.”
The Laos pastor explained that in Laos, where 98% of the seven million people are Buddhist, “the problem is getting the people to come to the church—they will not come.” He is a part of the 2%.
While there are camps all across America, he has never seen a camp in Laos. His kids never attended camps. They’re not a part of the culture. He said, “So, we are trying to find new ways to share the good news. To do a sports camp is one of best ways. When we ask people to come to play soccer, they come. That’s why I came here. To learn, see, and experience the camp and how they do it here.”
When he heard about FCA, he was excited. “You can share the good news to the non-believer and build the relationship between the kids and God through the sports camp, so it’s a very powerful way to do a camp to reach the people, to share Christ, and to build up the faith of a believer.”
“Please pray for us,” he said. “ We would love to have sports ministry in all 700 hundred churches to reach out to the young generation.”
In Korea, when it comes to sports, “We are a top down, Olympian level, high profile level,” explained Korean FCA director, Olympian Committee member, and Taekwondo master Hyung don Jung (Lion is his English name).
When he returns from observing this camp, Lion hopes to focus on high school level athletes. He has sensed discouragement in sports for young people who are not interested in high profile achievement. He wants to encourage them to come together and play.
“FCA is an important thing. They really love Christ,” Lion said. “Your church is doing great things. Nationality, race, everything is overcome for the sake of the kingdom. Everyone is for the same kingdom here. It will be a great influence on the next generation.”
Stephens shared how after the first day, a mom and son were walking out when she asked how his day was, he said, “Mom, I love this camp.”
“That’s what we want,” Stephens said, tearing up. “We want kids to keep coming back. They’re gonna come back if they love it, and they’ll love it if they get loved.”
“All for the glory of God. That’s the important thing,” Lion said. “ ‘All In’ for the kingdom.”
Photo Credit - MOCO FCA
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July 14 2014 at 10:34 am 0 Comments
We were thrilled to welcome 77 new members to the church family on Sunday. Each member has clearly expressed their faith in the death of Jesus Christ for their sins, making them our brothers and sisters, and members of our spiritual family. They have also completed our Starting Point class where they learned Covenant Life’s doctrinal convictions, met with a pastor, and signed our church’s membership agreement, committing to join us in our mission to worship God, love each other, and make disciples.
What else should you know about them?
• Our new members have come to us from 11 countries including: Ecuador, Egypt, England, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Kenya, Malaysia, Puerto Rico, Russia, Taiwan and the United Kingdom.
• There is a 51-year range in the ages of our new members—from 18 to 69.
• The newest believer among our new members was converted just this year; another has known the Savior for almost 62 years.
To new members:
We respect you and honor you for your decision to make the local church a priority. We believe this is what God’s Word calls every Christian to do. We believe that God has good in store for you here, grace that will lead to your spiritual maturity. We encourage you to receive the work of the Holy Spirit in your life through the church’s teaching and fellowship with us. We also need you to take your place in this church. We need your gifts. We need you to participate through prayer and serving.
As a church, we commit to love and care for you according to God’s Word, and we look forward to being blessed by God through you and through watching your growth in godliness.
Thank you for forward-looking faith! Thank you for living the Christian faith in a compelling way. Thank you for giving over the years so that these brothers and sisters can be here today.
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June 30 2014 at 12:24 pm 1 Comments
“Today was the first time I’ve been in a church for over 50 years,” shared an elderly Forest Oak Towers resident during a Senior Saints luncheon at Covenant Life Church.
When she and her husband emigrated from Europe to the U.S. during World War II, they arrived penniless, having entrusted all their financial assets to “Christians” who had promised to send their money ahead for them. The funds never arrived, and so the couple grew embittered and distanced themselves from the Christian church.
Now years later, as a result of the weekly lunches spent with Covenant Life members in the Forest Oaks cafeteria, she felt comfortable attending the luncheon held at the church. Afterwards, she shared how very blessed she was to be there, hear Robin Boisvert’s message, experience the kindness of those attending, and be treated so lovingly. She wants to return.
This is only one of many life stories at Forest Oak Towers, a 175-apartment complex on Odendhal Avenue in Gaithersburg for 220 residents with an average age of 73.
For the past two years, Covenant Life members Drew Garfield, Dennis Cook, Bob Merryman and others have been spending their Wednesday lunch hour with the residents. Recently, they started a monthly Bible Study, requested by residents.
“Our goal is to share the love of Christ through fellowship and friendship,” Bob shared. Their hope is to present the gospel of Jesus Christ, encourage faith in Christ, and see the Holy Spirit at work in their lives.
“I get a queasy feeling in the pit of my stomach at the prospect of approaching strangers,” Dennis said, “At first, I felt very uncomfortable, wondering if I had anything to offer.”
They have come alongside residents as friends, heard about their lives, shared about their own, prayed with them through sickness and hardship, and even helped with practical needs like hanging a picture or moving light furniture.
“We have learned that the regular visits residents can depend on foster relationships,” Dennis shared. “We have been told that even if we don’t hear it, we are appreciated, even expected, so please don’t stop coming.”
Bob and Dennis describe the residents as “quite a bunch of characters.” Nelson loves to sing Karaoke, Luce-Marie honestly shares about life, and Matilde helps where she sees needs.
Nancy is a chatterbox and writes poems. Alice offers care-giving counsel and asks after their wives. and Irma chases them down to give them hugs. Margarit loves classical music, opera, and ballet and takes care of Vartouhi.
Sisters Bessie and Flo challenge them to crossword puzzles, and Don sparks deep conversation through his honest questions about God.
Nettlie loves Jesus and wears her “I love Jesus” lanyard all the time. Sisters Mrs. Tsui and Mrs. Chang can’t speak English, but they wave and Mr. Tong gives thumbs-up.
“If you see me fightin’ with a bear, don’t worry about me, help the bear,” says Olivia who crochets baby outfits. Penny and Al are pals and greet everyone in the mailroom when they come to check for letters.
“This experience is probably serving me more than anyone is being served by me,” Dennis shared. “We are grateful to have the privilege to serve an awesome God,” Bob said.
Photo Credit: Betsy Reich
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June 9 2014 at 4:02 pm 4 Comments
Jenn Harvey leads the church’s English for Speaker’s of Other Languages (ESOL) Ministry, re-launched just over a year ago. Here is an exciting report she shared, just one of the ways God is at work in our community:
Last April we held an Easter celebration at one of the sites where we offer adult English classes, South Lake Elementary School. Despite pouring rain that evening, close to 30 students and their families came out and were able to hear the gospel clearly proclaimed, as well as have a chance to deepen friendships with the volunteer teachers from Covenant Life.
After reading 1 Peter 3:18 together in seven different languages, a short skit portraying how Christ cleansed us by taking our sins upon himself was presented. The evening ended with everyone sharing food from their countries that the students and teachers had brought.
During that time, many new connections were made and existing friendships strengthened. I had the opportunity to talk with a Muslim student from Bangladesh and her high-school-aged daughter, and share at length with her daughter about the effect that having a relationship with God has had on my life.
Here is another testimony from that night shared by Geney Harvey, another ESOL teacher:
On Monday night, as everyone was lining up to get food, I looked around for someone to chat with and saw an African woman by herself.
I went over and introduced myself and as we began to talk, it became clear that she had very minimal English skills. I asked if she spoke French and when she said yes, I began to try to talk with her with my limited French.
The Lord helped us to communicate and in the course of the conversation she told me that this was her first night attending and that she has been in the U.S. for 10 months and still has not found a job. She was very discouraged and was very concerned about how she was going to keep on providing for herself and her four children.
I told her how some of us prayed for one of the other students in my class (who is also from Africa) to find a job and that last week the Lord provided one for him. I asked if I could pray for her, and she very willingly agreed and acknowledged that only God could really help her.
I prayed for her, and it seemed that it encouraged her just to have someone show that they cared. Could you all join me in praying that the Lord would provide a job for her and that he would use this difficulty in her life to draw her to himself?
Thank you for partnering with us in praying for the gospel to reach every tribe, language, people, and nation through the ESOL ministry!
Find out more about us and how you can get involved at the ESOL LINK page.
photo credit: Pam Wilbur
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