Thriving in the Desert

In my last letter I wrote about how, like the Israelites, the wilderness is a more common experience for myself than those promised land moments. It’s funny how that letter has shaped my summer. A few hours after I wrote it, I received a call from Daybreak Bible Camp asking me to consider speaking for a week. I decided the best way to say “No” was to read them my letter. Who wants a
spiritual wet blanket for a teen camp speaker? Fortunately, it didn’t work out the way I thought it would. So the last week of August, the boy’s and I packed up, kissed Allison goodbye and headed off on our summer camp adventure. Can you guess what message God gave me to speak to 95 teens? Yup! God expanded that one-page prayer letter into a week’s worth of rich talks.

Honestly, that week at camp was the most encouraging week of ministry I’ve experienced this year. Most of my time is spent in schools where we don’t talk about Jesus. Coming to our programs are mostly with community youth who only want Jesus in small doses. The few church youth in our world are often over-stuffed on Jesus. This camp was something completely different—full of youth of all backgrounds—and almost all of them wanting to drink from the firehose. Imagine telling youth about how hard it is to follow Jesus then an hour or more later having to tell them to stop praying for each other because it’s past bedtime and the generator is going to shut off! This summer I relearned that it is not only possible to survive in the desert but perhaps there’s opportunity to thrive there as well.

Camp ministry is unique in many ways. One harvests from fields you haven’t planted. One calls those seeds out of the ground but then sends them home before tasting the fruit. My hope and prayer for my new friends comes from Jeremiah 17:8, that they become trees planted beside streams of living water bearing fruit in season and out.

- Derian Julihn

PS. On a personal note, I have stepped out in faith to take a full-time salary. I am doing this both in response to God’s prompting and to address the needs of our growing ministry. Currently I only have monthly partners to cover about 80% of my annual budget. This means that in about 2 years, if nothing changes, I will likely exhaust my funding. I wonder if you would prayerfully consider our ministry as you seek to give and to change lives by being a part my financial team.


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