Letter from Dr. Joseph Tkach – July 2013

Posted by colin on July 9, 2013 under Pastor General's Monthly Letter | Comments are off for this article

 

 

July 2013
Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Our season of summer camps is under way. Grace Communion International sponsors dozens of camps in the United States and around the world, where hundreds of volunteer staffers serve thousands of children and teen campers. These camps provide a wonderful opportunity for all who attend, and it can be a life-changing experience.

Some of the young people who attend our camps come from difficult situations. Some live in gang-infested inner cities, come from broken homes or have even suffered abuse from people they should have been able to trust.

Our summer camps give them a taste of another way of life, and for some it is the first time they might experience true friendship and acceptance. One way to describe our camp program would be “Christianity in Action.” Our camps provide a positive atmosphere of unconditional love where campers are able to see themselves and others in a different way. They begin to understand that God is real and he loves and values them. That’s what has made all the difference in the lives of these two campers:

Michael grew up in the foster care system in Detroit. By the time his foster mother adopted him, he had already been in trouble with the law and was headed down the wrong path. But when the 13-year-old boy arrived at camp, he was greeted by a sight he’d never seen before, wide-open natural spaces and dozens of friendly faces. In fact, he had so much fun that he didn’t want to go home. He volunteered to stay for a second session, where he served on staff.

Michael would tell you that his camp experiences literally transformed his life. During his second year, he was baptized. Now he attends church regularly and recently landed his first job. Our camps gave him a glimpse of a different way to live. He seized the opportunity, and as each day passes he is growing stronger and stronger in the Lord.

Stories like this are truly heartwarming. Here is another one:

Travis came to camp for the first time at age 13. He was doing poorly in school and was being raised by his mother while his father lived in a different state. His mother had health problems and experienced difficulty keeping a job. Travis and his two sisters ended up living with his grandmother in one of the most crime-ridden neighborhoods in a large southern city.

When Travis came to camp, he didn’t know what to expect. He had never in his life experienced anything like what he found there. At camp, he heard inspiring, biblically-based messages, developed genuine friendships and deepened his relationship with God.

If you ask him now, he will tell you that camp has been the single greatest influence in his spiritual development. He began attending church and was eventually baptized. In a community where most of his friends were drug dealers or in prison, Travis went on to get his GED at age 16 and became a certified welder, a job that has blessed him tremendously. He often returns to camp to serve on staff. Travis hopes to get married and raise a family so he can share the blessings that God has given him.

The ministers and volunteers who serve at our camps could tell many similar stories of young people finding direction and purpose in life. I am thankful for our camps and for all who make them possible. That includes you. Your continued generosity allows thousands of young people the opportunity to experience the love of Jesus while laying a foundation of hope and establishing friendships that will last them the rest of their lives.

Your gifts allow us to help in many other ways too. They may provide food to flood victims in Africa, a blanket to a shivering child in Bangladesh or resources to train new pastors through our internship program. Your donations to the denomination help serve across our ministries in many places and many ways. Thank you for your faithfulness and concern for both the young and old who need to understand the love of God wherever they may be.

Please join me in praying for the success of our summer camps, the open hearts of our campers and staff and for our ongoing gospel work in other parts of the world. 

Your brother in Christ,

Joseph Tkach President – Grace Communion International

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