On that day, the “swabs” (what they are called until the end of the summer) had their phones confiscated and we were only able to communicate with him through handwritten letters --- the old fashioned way! Trina and I wrote every day, and we were blessed to receive two lengthy letters from him. As of this past Friday, August 16, Carey successfully completed “Swab summer” and on Monday the 18th will be officially received along with his class into the core of cadets at USCGA. And so begins what is known as 4th class year, with classes beginning in about a week after a lot of administrative in-processing.
Summer 2019 was an exciting and busy camp schedule. It began in June with the summer camp for The Potter’s School, the Christian online school for whom I teach Bible Survey class to eighty students. To read more about this particular camp, go to our June update. The busier camp schedule began after my return from the Philippines (read our summary report on the Philippines trip here). Less than two days after returning from the Philippines, I had to push through some of the jet lag and adjustment to a 12-hour time difference as I had to depart to drive to Pennsylvania to begin seven days at the Peniel Holiness Camp. This was my first time to Peniel, and I preached nine times, sharing the preaching responsibilities with Dr. Chris Lohrstorfer of Wesley Biblical Seminary, whom I learned a great deal from. Part of what impacted me most about my time at Peniel was the incredible history of this camp, nearing 125 years of existence. One of my favorite things at the older holiness camps is to look at all the old posters for the campmeetings of years past. Peniel has these posted on the walls of the main worship tabernacle. I was awed (and Dr. Chris and I were almost giddy) to view these old posters and see how some of the greatest preachers of the holiness movement had preached at this camp. We saw some extremely significant responses to Jesus in this camp, and I was humbled to stand in the long line of those who have been privileged to share the Word at this storied camp.
After preaching my final service at Peniel on Thursday night (the camp would continue through that following Sunday), I drove a couple of hours to the Cleveland, OH airport to pick up Trina as she had flown there from home to meet me. After our joyful reunion (it had been the better part of three weeks since we had been together except for the two short nights at home after the Philippines), we made our way toward Camp Sychar in Mt. Vernon, OH, arriving a little after midnight. Those who know us at Camp Sychar know that it has become a real home for us over the past nine years especially. My first time to speak at Sychar was in 1993 (hard to believe even now how they so accepted that 26 year old evangelist), and was there two other times in the 90’s during our first term in evangelism. In 2011, I was asked back again and have either attended or served as one of the workers every year except two since then. It truly has become like home --- one of our family’s four favorite places on earth. But it’s really the people more than the place. I was privileged this year to serve, for the second time, as the 9:30 AM Bible teacher. I have become very fond of this opportunity to share from the Word in a teaching setting, yet very informal manner. It was clear to me this year that it would be good to share the material from 1 Corinthians 12 on the gifts of the Spirit and the body of Christ. The response was overwhelming. We pre-printed and bound 125 copies of the notes for the study, and they were all gone with still a few days left in the camp.
After our ten days at Sychar, Trina and I were able to be home for three days before heading up to Minnesota to the camp for the Prairie Lakes District Church of the Nazarene, a gathering of Nazarene churches from Minnesota, North Dakota, and South Dakota. What an amazing place and event this was over the course of the four days! And did I mention that I really like having Trina with me on these events? We were so very warmly greeted by the people, and by an old friend, district pastor (superintendent) Steve Hoffman and his wife, Jeanna. What amazing and humble servants of God they are! I was moved time and time again by Steve’s spiritual leadership and example in the camp. And the response of the people to the truth was extremely significant. There seemed to be a very special and powerful moving of the Holy Spirit in these services --- a time when His presence and touch on us all was extremely evident. One of the highlights was on Friday evening and the opportunity to speak through a Spanish interpreter to a joint service with English and Hispanic congregations. We were also blessed to have some time with our dear brother, Sam Burch, as he is in Minnesota for this part of the year. What a refreshing and encouraging time we had together. Trina and I found ourselves so refreshed by this time and counted it as such a gift to have been at this camp with these people.
We arrived home from Minnesota with some time now to begin to prepare for our fall travel schedule and the beginning of my TPS classes next week, followed by a class with Trevecca Nazarene University beginning the week after that. God is good. Though we are physically weary from the summer, our hearts are refreshed by the truth of His Word and the presence of Jesus among His people. We would not rather be anywhere else!
Running together in Christ,
I have always heard about the Philippines. My friend and ministry partner, Mark Strickland, has often spoken of his fondness for the Philippines as his favorite country in SE Asia. I had never imagined myself as traveling to SE Asia to teach or preach. But the providence of God had been at work in ways I could not have imagined. A couple of years ago, Trina had read that an old friend of mine, Dr. David Ackerman, had become the education coordinator for the Philippines and Micronesia for the Church of the Nazarene. David and I (as well as Mark Strickland) had attended Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City at the exact same time between 1989 and 1992. David and Rhonda had come from Idaho while Trina and I had come from Illinois. I had come to know him through several classes we had taken together, always amazed with his level of intellect. We became even more acquainted and the friendship developed more as David and Rhonda began attending the same small Nazarene church that Trina and I were attending in Independence, MO.
I have a deep love for them. I am grateful for all the prayer and support of people for this trip. Thank you for running together with me and the Christians in the Philippines for this time.
Running together in Christ,
Evangelist, Teacher, Writer,
Husband, and Father