God has blessed the last two days of Joy Camp tremendously. On Thursday evening we had our traditional site cookouts at Laytonia and Johnson’s Park. We cooked hundreds of hot dogs and were able to interact with the campers and many of their families. At the Laytonia cookout the campers were even able to come up and share the “Gospel Chant” they had been learning all week.
Friday was our last day with the campers. At South Lake they had a brief ceremony to celebrate the end of the week since they didn’t have a cookout. Parents were invited, and we called each camper by name to receive their Bible and camp t-shirt.
Friday was also our last day together as a team. We took time in the evening to recount God’s faithfulness by singing, listening to a short teaching, and hearing about how God worked at the different sites.
- Because renovations going on at Washington Square and Emory Grove, we weren’t sure how many kids would show up to camp. The leaders visited surrounding neighborhoods on Saturday and handed out flyers to tell people about camp. By the end of the week we were up to 54 kids.
- During one-on-one time one of the youth was explaining to a camper that in all the Bible stories throughout the week, each person had faith and God loved them. The camper responded, “Wait, God loves us? What if you don’t love God back?” So our volunteer was able to explain the gospel to him.
- We averaged between 40 and 50 campers.
- Many campers at Laytonia have professed faith throughout the years, so it is encouraging to go back and remind them of truth.
- Many of the campers have reached their middle school and high school years and have been coming since the beginning of Joy Camp. The experience is geared for younger kids, but by the second and third day the older kids were able to jump in and participate.
- Laytonia has a very diverse group of kids, but it's a tight-knit community with a strong sense of love.
- Because this site is an elementary school, our youth went into different classrooms and helped with summer school classes.
- We heard one first-time camper ask his friend, “Hey, do you believe in God?”
- Even some of the high school students expressed an interest in coming back next year to Joy Camp, not as campers but as volunteers.
- Many kids expressed that this was their favorite week of the whole year.
- During the upcoming school year we are going to partner with the school’s English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) program by providing child care and mini Joy Camps. God is working in unique ways here at South Lake, so please continue to pray for us.
Overall, all of the leaders were encouraged by the youth who have grown up in the church their whole life and are very familiar with the gospel. But seeing them fully invested and being able to apply that knowledge to local missions was incredible. Our group demonstrated love toward each other as well as the campers and grew in unity. Many of the rising freshmen also stepped out of their comfort zones and were bold and courageous in sharing the gospel this week.
Now that Joy Camp is done, pray for each of the families and campers. Pray that they would be reminded of the gospel daily as they look at their Bibles and camp t-shirts. Pray that they would be able to share what they learned at camp with others in their community. Pray for the different churches in our area and around the world. Pray that they would send more laborers for the harvest and that the gospel message would go forth. The same Holy Spirit who helped us this week understand that faith in God’s promises leads to courageous obedience, is the same Spirit working throughout the entire world.
We are looking to do follow-up ministry throughout the year. Here are some ways to get involved:
-Monday nights (starting September 28), 6:30 p.m. - 8:30 p.m.
-Fun, games, Bible study, friendship and help with homework
-To sign up, email Travis Earles
-Saturday, August 15, 10 a.m. - noon, at the Laytonia Community Center
-Fun, games and Bible study
-To volunteer, email Carlos.
-Saturday, July 25 and August 15, 10:30 a.m. - noon, at the Emory Grove Playground
-Fun, games and Bible study
-To volunteer, email Neal Stuckenschneider.
Lastly, we want to thank you for praying for us. This week could not have happened without you interceding for us. We are grateful for you!
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July 16 2015 at 1:47 pm 0 Comments
Today we focused on the life of Moses. The lessons started with a brief overview of Moses’ life: how he was saved at birth, ran as fast as he could away from Egypt, seemingly was content with his new life as a shepherd, and then came across the burning bush where God speaks to him. Campers read different verses from Exodus and continued to learn about Moses through different skits.
The story of Moses also references the Joy Camp theme: Faith in God’s promises leads to the courageous obedience of God’s commands. God commanded Moses to go to Egypt and tell Pharaoh to let God’s people go. God promised Moses that he was going to deliver his people, and all he needed to do was go. Moses obeyed with courage even though his life might be at risk.
Planning is going well, and each site is doing a fabulous job reaching out to the kids and sharing the gospel. Despite our weary bodies God is giving us energy to persevere.
Tonight we had the privilege of attending the Wednesday Night Prayer Meeting. We gathered together with faithful prayer warriors from our church and took time to worship and pray. We prayed for our camp, for the specific communities, and for the glory of God to spread throughout the Gaithersburg area. It was refreshing to be together and be reminded of God’s faithfulness to hear and answer our prayers.
Tomorrow are our traditional site cookouts. We would love for you to come, participate, and see how God is working!. There will be many parents and families from each community to talk to, and opportunities to share the gospel.. The cookout locations are Laytonia (diagonally across the street from the church) and Johnson’s Park (behind the Flower Hill Starbucks).
If you are interested in coming, please feel free to email Corinne at the church office for directions.
As we enter our last few days of camp, here are some ways you can be praying for us:
- Physical and mental strength for leaders and youth
- Sufficient sleep, energy and joy to persevere through our last few days of camp
- Healing for minor scrapes and bruises that happened today
- That our youth would have clarity during the one-on-one times in the afternoon and be able to communicate the gospel effectively to campers.
- That God would send more laborers to the harvest in Gaithersburg and that the follow-up ministry of making disciples in our community would grow exponentially and thrive for the glory of God
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July 15 2015 at 10:12 am 0 Comments
It’s day two of Joy Camp, and God has continued to bless us. Today we focused on the idea that true faith is enduring faith by learning about Abraham. In the story God first calls Abraham and then gives him the promise of being the “Father of Multitudes." This promise to Abraham is repeated several times throughout the chapters in Genesis. Abraham believed and obeyed God, even as his faith was put to the test when God asked him to sacrifice his only son, Isaac.
Here are a few updates and prayer requests from each site:
- Praise report: There were double the amount of campers today and many teenagers!
- Pray for a young girl camper who comes from a home of mixed faiths.
- It was encouraging to see that many campers are bringing Bibles back to Joy Camp that they received previous years.
- It is encouraging to see younger campers bringing their older siblings and vice versa.
- There are many campers who are asking what it means to live an eternal life. A lot of the campers are believers.
- Pray that our volunteers will continue to have deep, biblical conversations the rest of the week.
South Lake Elementary School
- Praise report: There were a lot of new campers today. So it's evident that people are spreading the word.
- During one-on-one time, one of the youth spoke with a girl who has already given her heart to God and goes to church. Her mom works long hours to support the family. Pray that God would provide and that their family would be able to go to church more often.
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July 14 2015 at 10:22 am 0 Comments
It's Youth Local Missions week, and about 70 youth and adult volunteers from Covenant Life are out getting to know our neighbors! We are serving kids and their families at three sites, playing a variety of games, hearing short talks, singing, and acting out skits related to what is taught.
The Joy Camp theme this year is “Faith Leads to Courage.” Throughout the week we are learning that faith in God’s promises helps us to have courage to obey God’s Word. We will also be talking about how we can be courageous if we put our faith in Christ. We will specifically be learning about five examples from the Bible (Noah, Abraham, Moses, Joshua, and Daniel) who courageously obeyed because they had faith in God’s promises.
God has already blessed us even on the first day of camp. Here are some specific ways God has been at work:
- A new site this year, pulling from the Washington Square, Emory Grove and surrounding neighborhoods
- We had about 20 campers today.
- We were blessed by many expressions of love from the kids.
- The campers were involved and excited to learn from the Bible.
- We had over 30 kids that came back today. This is amazing! Numbers are usually lowest on the first day of camp.
- There are a lot of new families in the neighborhood who are also new to Joy Camp.
- Campers jumped in and got involved right away.
- It started raining a little bit during the Noah’s Ark skit (right on queue!), and sure enough, it stopped at just the right part of the story, too!
- Sometimes it’s hard for campers to retain Bible knowledge from previous years, but as the lesson goes on, it all comes back.
South Lake Elementary School
- Campers were ready and waiting when we arrived.
- The volunteers were joyful and entered in with the kids despite the heat and not having air conditioning.
- There were about 30 campers today, ages 4 to 21.
Although God is already doing a lot, we would still love your prayers!
- Please pray for continued physical strength for the youth and leaders of Joy Camp. It is a very long, and busy week, and we all get extremely tired.
- Pray for courage and boldness in sharing the gospel to others, for our youth specifically.
- Pray for opportunities to share the gospel and that hearts would be softened.
Thank you! We look forward to sharing more about how God is working in our community.
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February 17 2015 at 1:34 pm 1 Comments
One Way to Share God’s Plan with Muslims
by Almasih Kahdost
Sitting barefoot in a sportsplex in Maryland, wearing traditional Pakistani attire given to me, I was enveloped by the chant of Allahu akbar, droning continuously. I watched as Muslims of various sizes, shapes and ethnicities assembled themselves in neat rows preparing for prayer; men filling the front of the field, women, the back. Once all (save one) gave praise to Allah while performing the various salat prayer positions, an imam taught that one lesson learned during the fast of Ramadan is gratitude. By denying oneself food during the daylight hours, a person is more grateful for it come evening. Having been fasting for my Muslim friends during this month myself, I learned this lesson firsthand and was grateful Ramadaan had come to a close.
As my Muslim friend and I left the sportsplex, I referred back to the imam’s message, asking for what my friend was most grateful. After listening, I shared my own thoughts, saying I was most grateful for qurbani; that is, blood sacrifice. I related how a sacrifice was provided for Adam and Hawa (Eve) to cover their shame when they had sinned in the garden. I reminded my friend how when Ibrahim’s (Abraham’s) son was in need of a sacrifice, it was divinely provided. I continued that Musa (Moses) was inspired to order atoning sacrifices for the sins of the people and that many years later, the prophet Isaiah foretold the coming masih (messiah) Who would Himself become qurbani in the place of His people, taking their shame. Then I related that the prophet Yahya (John the Baptist) pointed at Isa (Jesus) and calling him, “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”
“Why do you think Yahya called Isa a lamb,” I asked.
“I don’t know.”
I told my friend that prior to his death Isa had alerted his followers that He would lay down His life as a qurbani to set people free (Mark 10:45). Isa’s subjection to public shame was all a part of Allah’s loving plan to take away the sin and shame of His people. Just as He performed qurbani for Adam and Hawa to cover their shame, and just as He provided an animal for Ibrahim’s son, and just as He told Musa the way of qurbani for the forgiveness His people’s sin, now, in the death and resurrection of Isa, Allah was providing the ultimate qurbani - the ultimate sacrifice for sin. The shame and punishment that we deserved was laid upon Isa as a part of God’s loving plan to restore honor to His people.
My friend didn’t submit to Christ that day and is still a Muslim. We have had the family to our home and they have had us over as well. We have prayed in Isa’s name for the healing for their children. We’ve helped them with English and with transportation. I still make visits from time to time. We continue to pray regularly for this family.
These dear people represent one of many Muslim families in our area who can be reached with the love of Christ. Please consider how you can extend love and friendship to the people God has brought here. Amidst headlines filled by the likes of ISIS et al, it is too convenient to lump your neighbor in with them. If you begin to pray and ask God for inroads and share your life with your Muslim co-workers, neighbors and friends, you might be surprised at the laid opportunities before you.
“Almasih Kahdost” is a long-time friend of Covenant Life who desires to see the nations come to Christ. Though preferring to publish anonymously, Almasih Kadost welcomes your comments below.
See all the posts in this series.
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February 4 2015 at 10:20 am 0 Comments
Covenant Life members are taking the gospel to the nations right here in Gaithersburg!
More than 22 members are diligently working in the ESOL (English for Speakers of Other Languages) ministry. Classes are held on Monday nights in the fall and spring at South Lake Elementary School.
The program at South Lake currently hosts over 30 students from 17 different countries who speak seven different languages at home. Four class levels are offered, from Beginners 1 (no English language ability) to Advanced.
This is the third year that volunteers have been serving at South Lake. Most of the students in the ESOL classes are parents of elementary school students that attend South Lake and live in the townhouses and apartment buildings that surround the school. The ESOL teachers and assistants have had excellent support from the administration at South Lake, as many of children attending the school do not speak English at home, and our English language classes provide an important service to the community.
Each week volunteers present Scripture verses from the Two Ways to Live tract as part of the curriculum. God has given volunteers the opportunity to pray with students about their day-to-day struggles.
Advanced class teacher Geney Harvey and her husband Tim had the opportunity to pray with two students who were in need of a job, and God has answered these prayers.
Volunteers even organized Thanksgiving and Christmas parties to provide time outside the classroom to build relationships and give an opportunity for a clear and straightforward presentation of the gospel.
Several volunteers went the extra mile by serving a Chinese couple when they were visiting the U.S. for a year. To expand their skills and exposure to American culture, they took them to the grocery store, the county fair and on excursions to area landmarks. Thanks to their faithful investment in that relationship, the husband came to know the Lord.
- Please pray that the students needs would be met, and that they would understand that their ultimate need is Jesus. Many students have financial, work or family needs, and would benefit from our prayers.
- Please pray for enough volunteers for the spring semester of classes at South Lake Elementary.
- Please pray for additional volunteers to join the leadership team.
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