Caravan Return Worship Service

>> Monday, July 30, 2012

The Sunday on which our Caravan Trip of high school students returns is always a highlight for our entire congregation.  Yesterday, at the 10:45 service, we heard stories, listened to voluntteers and staff and saw a video which included student testimonies.   A few less than 200 participants had just returned from our high adventure trip to New York City. 

Because I have participated in more than 30 Caravans this event really, really touches my heart.  I see the sacrifice of the staff people who give so much.  I see the appreciation of parents who desperately want their children to walk with Christ.  And I see the life-change that has taken place year after year in the lives of students.  I notice the commitment of volunteers who pay their own way and take their vacation time to be with the students.

I remember in the old days when we would return from the trip and people would ask, "How was the trip?"  The answer I wanted to give and sometimes did give was this, "We will need to wait 10 to 20 years to really see if God used the trip for permanent life-change."

Well, it's been 10 to 20 years and I'm pretty sure God has used this trip and the prayers and commitment of the Caravan staff.  The trip is led by people (Tim & Ben) whose lives were changed.  And many of the volunteers have had their lives strengthened and encouraged.

Here's some pictures of the crowd at the Caravan Return Service--


Powerful Evening Opening Time Capsules!

>> Tuesday, July 24, 2012

It was a powerful evening.  Over 100 people gathered in the sanctuary to hear from Charter Members who were part of starting Orchard Hill Church and then we would open two time capsules--one had been closed for 50 years and the other for 20 years.

There was a time for prayer, worship and lots of story telling.  Charter members and their children came forward to share stories of their first memories and stories of spiritual impact.  It was a emotionally moving to hear the stories.  Cathy Humke and Harold DeBeer shared their memories of the first worship services that took place in the basement of Pastor Al Moss's home on Clearview Drive. 

Mary Ellen Meier shared the spiritual impact of walking through so very much change while our church has constantly been committed to reaching young families.  She shared a story of hearing two teenage girls walking through the lobby of the church and hearing one of the girls ask the other, "Don't you just love coming to this church?"    Mary Ellen said this just confirmed in her heart again that we are doing the right things.

I was so struck again that the DNA of our church family has been from the very beginning--50 years ago:

1.  Reach next generations and young families
2.  Serve our community in the name of Jesus
3.  Partner with other churches who are committed to do these things

The oldest time capsule was filled with newspapers with articles about the start-up of Orchard, a Bible, bulletins and programs.  The 20-year time capsule was filled with letters from church members to their children, grandchildren and spouses.

God is good.  It was a powerful evening.


Crazy Good Family Adventures!

>> Saturday, July 14, 2012

Two of the past three weeks I have been on Family Adventures.  It's been crazy good to be with our own core family and with many of our church families!

Our family (9 adults & 10 grandchildren) spent a week at Baker Reserve in Minneapolis.  Five days and nights at the beach, around the campfire, playing bag toss, visiting the zoo and having great times of talking around the campfire.  This is a true family camp and my wife, Linda, and I love every minute of it in spite of the heat and mosquitoes.  God is good.  We have been blessed to be a blessing for sure.

Here's some pictures--

 Sand and water is all that is needed for an afternoon of fun for our four granddaughters!

Erin gives instruction at the beginning of a craft time!

Yesterday, Linda and I returned from 6 days with our Orchard Hill West Family Camping trip.  It also was amazingly good.  Approximately 75 adults and 75 kids spent the week at Mahoney State Park near Lincoln, Nebraska.  It's a beautiful park and the families just loved their time together.  It's basically a family vacation with some church community and spiritual input.  Each morning I led the group in small groups so that people could get to know each other at a deeper level.  I believe that people loved this opportunity to share with each other.

Each evening we would gather for a report from the day and some spiritual focus.  It always has an amazing impact upon families and this year was no exception.  Each evening, we heard stories about how past trips had touched and changed lives.

One verse I brought to the group was I Thessalonians 2:8 where the apostle Paul writes to the church in this city and says, "We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our very lives as well."  These trips are about sharing the gospel of God but also our very lives as well!

These pictures may give you a feel for the event--

 Kids starting to gather for the Children's activities led by some of the parents!
A look at the center of our camp where we had sessions and ate meals!

Again, what a privilege to be a part of a very active and alive congregation!


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