Power House Student Ministry

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The name of our Student Ministry is Power House. I actually wish I could take credit for it, but I can’t, First Baptist Winter Park’s children’s minister Mary Peters came up with it along with some of the students. As soon as I first saw the name and the logo, I fell in love with it. It’s not only a perfect name for any student ministry, it’s unbelievably perfect for our student ministry. The word in the New Testament that get translated to Power is actually “dynamis” which is the same word we get dynamite from. This is such a perfect illustration of this group because right now they are small but incredibly mighty, something Mary had actually told me early on. They are small but I know they will accomplish unbelievable things as our ministry grows and as they become the leaders that usher in the age of growth for Power House and ultimately First Baptist Winter Park.

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This was the last time we were all able to be together before Covid 19 kept us apart. However, one of our students was unable to be there so he photoshopped himself in.

 

The first time I met them I was still in the process of being interviewed. I went up to the rooms they call the Power House to meet with the students they call Power House for their Wednesday night meeting time that they also call Power House. I kind of love the fact that I can say “Power House, go to Power House, it’s time for Power House and it makes perfect sense. It’s kind of like how “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo” is a complete sentence in the English language, if you don’t believe me, google it. Anyway, the first time I met with them I was blown away by their energy, their excitement, and their clear love for one another. They were like dynamite, small but ready to explode. It was also exciting because they were all 7-9th graders, which means we would get the privilege to walk with them through all of high school.

 

I have been in contact with so many other Student Pastors and they have been discouraged because their numbers have dropped in their online meetings, we have done the opposite. As surprising as it was to even me, our online meetings have increased in number since we started. We meet as a group three times a week. Sunday mornings at 11 for church, Wednesday night at 6pm for Power House and again on Friday afternoon at 4 for a game. We have one on ones and other stuff going on throughout the week as well including a girls zoom workout with Bronwyn. These students have been so faithful and they are so fun! Leaving Kenya was unbelievably difficult even though I knew this was exactly what God was calling us to do, but the minute I met these students I knew the transition was going to be so much easier. I can’t imagine not having these young men and women in our lives.

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Power House Zoom Call

 

Before the pandemic sent us into our homes and we had to stop meeting together, we decided that our groups verse would be 2 Timothy 1:7. The words power and love describe this group so well. In fact, all of the verse describes this group so well. I have no idea what we will look like as Power House in two years, or four but I know we have a core group of powerful students just waiting to explode.

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The Far Flung Body of Christ

“It was my understanding that there would be no math” – Chevy Chase playing Gerald Ford in 1976 on Saturday Night Live during a debate.

Normally you wouldn’t see much math on this site either, but I do want to throw a few numbers at you. I know that people are feeling isolated and wondering how the Body of Christ can function when it is so separated. Well the reality is you are separated from most of the Body of Christ. In fact, in your entire lifetime you are only likely to meet 0.00067% of people who are alive on the planet today. This number comes from Dave Haridson who studied accounting and economics and lives in Orlando and that number seems about right. Basically, if you round down you will meet about 0% of the world’s population over the course of your entire lifetime. With that figure in mind you have pretty much been living your entire existence knowing only the tiniest part of The Body. If you compare this number to the human body its like thinking you understand the entire body of Christ but all you can see is one cell.

God is moving in ways we can’t even fathom, almost all the work He does in peoples lives we will never ever see. However, God still has a perfect amazing plan for you. And even though you won’t see how God is moving you can trust that He is, and He has a specific plan for your life just as each cell in the body has it’s own important function. So yes, we are separated but it’s ok because we won’t be forever and now is the time to focus on Him. On His plan for your life.

I know this is super similar to what I wrote yesterday, but I also think it needs to be repeated. I think we view the Body of Christ and even God in such small terms sometimes. We don’t see the bigger picture. Even when we do see a bigger picture we see in in vague terms. Look at the night sky, did you know that according to science we can only see 0.000003% of the universe? And what we can see is only in the smallest of detail. We can’t interact with it or even completely understand it. God is at work in ways we can not even imagine! Ephesians 3:20 says:

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us,

Or look at I Corinthians 2:9:

But, as it is written,

“What no eye has seen, nor ear heard,
nor the heart of man imagined,
what God has prepared for those who love Him”

So we are separated from our body of believers, I get that. It’s hard, God wants us to fellowship together. But during this unprecedented time in human history, I know God is longing for us to learn more about who He is and who we are in Him. And it’s possible now more than ever He is calling us to see how enormous His power is and even as we are isolated gain an increased worldview of how He is working and impacting not just what we see but what we don’t.

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Photo by Snapwire on Pexels.com

What Should Ministries Do?

Over the last few days, I have been involved in so many conversations with people in both church and camp ministries. Most of those conversations have boiled down to one thing, we really aren’t sure what is best. On the one hand we want to be safe, obviously. We want to protect the children, youth, and students in our care, and we are not sure we can safely do that. We also want to protect their families and loved ones and the last thing anyone would ever wants to do is become the reason someone got infected. At the same time, camps and churches are grappling with so many missed opportunities. We cannot impact students the way we want to if we don’t have them in programs, in our care, and in our presence. It’s a difficult thing for sure. I am literally struggling with it every single day and we have been fortunate because our students have taken very well to meeting via technology. So, what do we do?

I’m not an expert on these matters but I do have experience and if you want my advice, which you may not and if so just quit reading. I would say wait. Waiting is hard!! I hate it, like I’m not gonna lie for a couple of weeks I really kinda spiraled a bit and I may go more into that in a future post but for now I think we need to wait. God doesn’t move at the speed we do. I love Isaiah 55:

For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.

And I believe with all my heart that God is in the difficult times just as much as He is the easy ones. This is the challenge of this age. Think about that for a minute, this is the challenge of this age and we owe it to ourselves as believers as followers of Christ to wait and hear from Him on what our next steps should be. Maybe this is our burning bush, our great flood, our opportunity to hear from God like never before. Let’s not rush to get back what we think we lost but wait and see what it is God is trying to show us. Besides, you think you can’t do ministry without seeing people? Paul hardly ever got to see the people he was ministering to, he was dependent on letters and I don’t know how long it took to get a letter from Rome to Philippi but I would imagine longer than I sometimes make students wait in a Zoom waiting room after they lost connection. And Paul was desperate to see people in the churches he started, see Romans 1:11 or I Corinthians 16:7. Or literally any other letter he wrote. Just like we long to have Christian companionship so did he. But, lets not put that ahead of the companion we really need, Jesus. Maybe now is the time that God is calling each of us to draw closer to him as individuals so that when we are able to come back together we are stronger in our relationship with God and able to love one another deeper than ever before. Real John 13:34 love!

So, lets wait in Christ. Wait for our safety, safety for the people we love and so we might hear from our King in a way we never have before that may bring about the worldwide revival we have been hoping for.

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

Clean Hands

One of the realities of working with youth and teens as long as I have is sometimes you learn things you really wish you didn’t know. One of those things is just how gross sometimes they can be, especially as it relates to things like hygiene. Bronwyn and I have both at different times sat down with students and talked to them about the importance of things like, brushing teeth, washing clothes, using deodorant, and that Axe body spray isn’t the same as taking a shower. For some of them they legitimately didn’t have anyone in their lives to have these conversations with them, for others I assume they were just lazy or, as the Febreze commercials say, had gone nose blind. But ultimately our goal was to help them be healthier and live better lives armed with at least the ability to take better care of themselves. Just a funny side note, did you know that in Kenya it is a highly held belief that Americans don’t use washcloths to bathe, they just use their hands and soap. Just a fun fact for your day.

Something else I have learned, mostly from being a camp director, is that campers are terrible at washing their hands. One of the trainings I always did with staff was about “Camper Care” and I would always say, “you will have campers who will go to the bathroom and then the sink, turn the water on, not even get their hands wet, and turn the water off”. After which everyone would laugh thinking I was exaggerating. Then little by little counselors would see it happening and would be shocked. When I ran afterschool programs because of licensing we had certain guidelines that had to be followed as it related to hand washing. As any government document tends to be, it was very detailed but if it was followed properly at the end you would have lots of students with very clean hands.

The truth is most people don’t wash their hands good enough and with all the talk of the Coronavirus I thought it might be good to post a couple of charts that may make you a better hand washer, so here ya go.

 

The Bible also has some things about clean hands, you may have sung the worship song by Chris Tomlin, “Give Us Clean Hands” but did you know it’s lifted straight from Psalms 24:4 and that some people speculate that this Psalm was written about the Ark of the Covenant being brought back into Jerusalem. The thought here being that having clean hands and a pure heart allows you greater access to God’s Holy Presence. Well, the way many campers would deal with their hands is the same way I think many followers of Christ deal with their sins. They go through the motions, they turn the sink on, but they don’t do the hard work. They don’t get before their Creator and ask Him to do what David wrote in Psalms 139

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart!
Try me and know my thoughts!
24 And see if there be any grievous way in me,
and lead me in the way everlasting

We want to gloss over our obvious sin and ask God to forgive us of what others can see, but not to thoroughly cleanse us, to point out all our sin so we can stand forgiven in his Holy Presence. So, this week be sure to wash those hands really, really good and also let God cleanse you from all your unrighteousness. And remember that sometimes it takes more than a quick minute, you have to let Him really scrub and sometimes it’s hard and sometimes the things you see are really gross, but in the end it’s worth it for your Spiritual Health just like being clean is good for your physical health.

God Loves You

There is something I say very often, in fact I say it so often there might already be a blog post about it. If you ask any student that has ever heard me speak what’s the most important thing Brett will ever tell you. I would hope they would all say, “God Loves Me”. I won’t ever tell another human being anything more important than that. More important than the truth that the Creator of the universe, the Overseer of all that is or was or ever will be, that He loves them. In fact I would be willing to guess I’m either saying it in these pics or I’m about to say it.

I say it so often that when people do impressions of me, they say it, I say it so often it’s sometimes the only thing people know about me. Oh, he’s the guy that’s always telling people that God loves them. And honestly, I couldn’t ask to be known for anything greater. The gospel is challenging to comprehend but easy to understand in its simplest terms. We are sinners and that sin separates us from God because He is Holy. But because God loves us, he provided a way through His son Jesus and His death on the cross that we might be saved. Why would the creator of the universe do this? Simply because He loves us. So, I say it all the time, I don’t deserve God’s love and never will and yet He freely gave it to me. Because of that I share that good news with everyone I can.

I also like to encourage people to remind themselves that God loves them, to write it on their mirror or put it on a toothbrush. I also encourage them to write it on their shoes so every time they tie their shoes they see the reminder. This is two of our BlueSky counselors who did just that after summer was over.

If you have a minute with someone and you can only share one thing, I can’t think of a better word than God loves you. Now if you have two minutes you can add what I consider to be the second most important thing I’ll ever tell someone. And that is that God has a plan for their life. I work with a lot of young people; I have worked with youth and teens who were very well off and seemed to have everything they would ever need. I have also worked with very poor youth and teens, so poor it might even be difficult to explain. But they all have a common thread that runs through them. They want to know that there is someone or something that is guiding them, that is guiding their life. The answer is yes there is, and the same God who loves you so much also has a plan for your life.

I’ve said it so many times I’m not sure if there is any phrase I’ve ever said more, it’s the most important and profound thing I will ever say. “God Loves You” & “God has a plan for your life”. You aren’t just meaningless goo that popped into being, you matter to God. You matter to The God of all that is, and was, and is to come. Never forget, God Loves You.

Back at It!

Alright, so we took a long break from updating our blog. In our defense, it’s been a little crazy but the plan is to start updating again and get back into the swing of writing. I know it may not be as exciting as what we were doing in Kenya but come on, I live in Florida now. Have you seen the headlines from Florida? Seriously, go to google and type in the words “Florida Man”, and you your birth date and tell me you don’t get some crazy story that involves alligators or meth. For real, go do it!

See!! Crazy right, clearly God has us right where we are supposed to be. Speaking of being right where we are supposed to be, it has been crazy reassuring that God has us in the center of His perfect will. Everyone knows that saying “God Loves You, and “God Has a Plan for Your Life” is kinda my thing but it would be crazy if I didn’t actually live that out. God has made His perfect track for our life clear and it’s such an amazing thing to be walking in it. Ephesians 2:10 says “ For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” And I know that we are walking in His perfect plan for us. I realize some of you may not even know exactly what we are doing!

It’s a long crazy story that kinda started over a year ago, but in other ways started all the way back to when my sister and I were little. See Ashley was a singer, as long as I can remember she was always the one who sang the solos in school or at Christmas pageants or other places they let little kids sing. It was only natural that she would join the choir at our High School and seeing at how she was two years older than me and I wanted to be like her, it made sense that I would join the choir too. I auditioned to join our High School choir before my Freshman year and after a lot of coaching and a whole lot of grace I got in. And that’s when I met Steve May, someone who is bound to come up a lot over the next few years. He became my choir director but only for that one year before God called him to serve at church.

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Steve and Linda May 

 

Fast Forward six years when God grabbed a hold of me and pulled me out of sin and darkness and I literally didn’t know where to turn. Steve did what I know all Christians are called to do, he discipled me. He lived out the Great Commission in my life. Now fast forward to last year when Bronwyn and I knew God was calling us to leave Kenya but didn’t know yet where He was calling us to. I reached out to a few men, Steve of course being one, asking them to pray and God did what God does. See, Steve was working at the church I am now serving at as the Minister to Music and they were without a Student Pastor. Fortunately they were not ready yet because we were still in Kenya but when God’s perfect timing came about they saw fit to call Bronwyn and I to come serve here. Now we are serving side by side. God is good very good and over a lifetime we should all see how God is moving, even in seemingly small ways, to do wondrous and miraculous things in our life!

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We Ready

A question we have gotten often since leaving Kenya has been, “where are you going next?” Well the answer to that question may finally be becoming clear. However, this isn’t the blog post where you get to hear about it. Hopefully that can all be revealed soon. This is the blog post where I catch you up a little bit on our escapades. Bronwyn and I moved out of our house in Nairobi and to camp outside Nairobi in May. We put most everything we needed in suitcases and what we didn’t need in tubs. In that time, we have slept in over a dozen beds in four states and two countries and been hosted by nine different people and stayed in a cabin, a tent, and three hotels. We have driven five vehicles and been hosted to I don’t remember how many meals. Neither one of us are very high maintenance and can be satisfied with very little, however the last few weeks a recurring theme between the two of us has been, “we are ready”. First, we are ready for God to reveal what is next for us. We said at the very beginning of this we were ready to walk by faith and not by sight and trying to live out 2 Corinthians 5:7. But we are also ready for some other things, and saying these things out loud make us seem a little worldly and I guess because of it we are. I think we are both ready to come home, that is come to our home. We have both caught ourselves referring to wherever we happen to be staying as “home”. The second thing, and this gets a little specific, we are so ready to take our clothes and hang them in our closet instead of putting them back in a suitcase. We are ready to put our food in our fridge, drink from our glasses that we wash in our sink and sleep in our bed. I feel like we are better equipped for this kind of nomadic lifestyle than most but I think we are both really ready.

Now don’t hear me wrong, we have been unbelievably grateful for all the hospitality we have received from so many amazing people and Bronwyn’s parents for being our hub and where what little stuff we own is housed. One thing we definitely learned in Kenya was how to host well and how to show hospitality. Because of that, I hope we have learned how to also be good guests. We have certainly had a crash course in it. But we are ready, we are so ready. We love to travel but if we don’t have to put anything in a suitcase again for some time that would be great. However, as ready as we may be the time hasn’t arrived just yet. We have at least one and possibly two more trips ahead of us. God knows what He is doing, and I know He is teaching us something in this, if nothing else it’s patience. You can’t pray God’s timing and then expect you own. But that doesn’t change the fact that we are ready. We would seriously appreciate your prayers as it looks like we are getting to the end of our journey and about to start our new ministry, but we can’t be completely sure yet. God will speak soon; He will make His perfect will known and once that happens, I promise we will announce it. You’ll probably hear us as we sigh and slink into “our” chairs for the first time in over half a year.

 

 

 

On one last note, Bronwyn and I have been unbelievably blessed  by generosity of old friends and new. Most of our trips cost us very little. Honestly, it’s been amazing to see how God has not only provided but blessed. Thanks for reading and look for a big announcement soon.

What’s Next

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So, we kind of have a pact here at camp that we aren’t talking about the fact that in just a few weeks we will all be going our separate ways. In fact, some of the people I love the most in the world are about to be thousands of miles away.  For now, I’m totally focused on nothing but loving and serving them well and serving our last session of campers. I think there is a level where I’m thankful I don’t know what’s next because it might split my focus. As it is for now, I can stay completely focused on the here and now. Here is what we know for now, we get on a plane and head to Memphis on August 18, that’s so soon now that I really think about it. We will spend a week with friends and family and then we are heading to Florida to spend a week with the man who discipled me and spiritual father and mother. So that gets us to about the beginning of September and the complete unknown. We have no home, no car, no jobs and no fear. I haven’t talked about this next part much, but I do want to share it now. When I was fasting and praying a few months ago I had a waking dream or vision or something, but I know it was from God. The vision was of my foot stepping out in Faith trusting completely in God’s perfect plan for our lives. I can’t really explain how much peace it gave me, but it did and does. I have never in my life felt so secure in what we are doing, putting our complete trust and hope in God. We are truly walking by Faith and not by sight.

One of the things we do at camp is hide colored rocks in the morning and if campers find the silver ones, they can get a verse from me and if their entire cabin learns the verse, they get two emeralds (green painted rocks) which are the most valuable. It’s a heated competition so that can really put you over the edge. One of the verses I give out on little slips of paper is Hebrews 11:1 which has the best definition of Faith found in the Bible. It says, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen”. Although I can’t see what’s next, I know God has a plan and I honestly am excited about it even though I don’t know what it is.

So, the answer to what’s next is just that, we don’t know and we invite you to join us in prayer as we seek God’s perfect will. Matthew 7:7 says “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you”. If you keep reading, there are verses about if you are a son and you ask for bread a good father will not give a snake and if you ask for fish a good father will not give a stone. We have a good Father and all we are asking is for His perfect plan and will to be revealed to us in His perfect time. So please pray for us as we pray God’s perfect path to be put out before us.

Thomas Legolas

 

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Thomas Legolas and I

This is my good friend Thomas. At camp he patrols at night and protects us from any unwanted intruders. Camp is well guarded with gates and other guard post, but Thomas is our in camp protector. Since I don’t sleep sometimes, we see each other quite often. In fact, there has been plenty of times when Thomas was the last person I saw before bed besides Bronwyn and the first person I saw in the morning.

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Thomas carries a bow and arrow he crafted himself and before I knew his name, I referred to him as Legolas the Elvin archer from Lord of the Rings. Thomas is one of the people that makes me wish I knew Swahili instead of just the few phrases I have memorized. He doesn’t speak much English although I think he understands me pretty well. I’m sure he has a fascinating story.

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I already had a real soft spot for Thomas Legolas, but he went to an entire new level a few weeks ago. My last blog post I mentioned Lions Pride and at some point, I hope to do an entire post about it. It’s a challenge for our senior camp that requires them to complete some difficult tasks through the night and it’s a real honor to those who finish. One of our young ladies got out on one of the challenges and was very upset over it, she went behind one of our storage containers to read her bible and pray, however she didn’t tell anyone she was doing this so when she was unaccounted for a short time later it was a little stressful. She was an amazing young lady, so we knew she wasn’t up to anything bad we just weren’t sure exactly where she was. Without going into too much detail I spent most of the night searching almost everywhere at camp except, apparently, the one place she was. That’s where Thomas Legolas saved the day, well night. He was searching just as hard as me and found her where she had been for hours, behind the container reading her Bible and praying. I hugged him, thanked him and sent her to bed.

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I am so thankful for so many of the amazing people that make my life and calling better and easier but in that moment there was none more important than Thomas was in that moment. It’s sometimes hard to know how to honor someone but in this instance I know I have the perfect way. On Friday nights we have what we call “Summit Fire” where we give counselors and staff a camp name, this Friday we plan to honor Thomas with a camp name. He will forever in BlueSky be referred to as “Shepherd” because he was finder of out lost sheep. Just like the man from Matthew 18:12 who left his 99 sheep to find the one Thomas spent his night searching for our lost sheep. I will be forever thankful to him.

A Moment of Silence

As a staff team we decided to have a time of fasting during a break between campers to seek God and His strength and to focus on Him for the rest of the season. As part of that fast it was suggested that we also take a time of silence for part of the day. This may come as a shock to you, but I was not very good at doing this. I was so bad at it I actually took note of the words I said, here is the list.

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Just so you know we started at 5 so I only made it seven minutes before I said my first word. I’m pretty sure I was deep in prayer for each of these and then said a word out loud as I prayed. Some of the words I get, love, Glory, and thankful. However, I have no idea what prompted me at 6:09 to say “Chilling” out loud. I was really lost in thought and prayer and I think God may have revealed something to me and it was chilling to me, however if it was some other stupid reason I wouldn’t be surprised. Fasting and prayer has become a very dear discipline to me but clearly there are aspects of it that I need more work on.

Our senior high camp can take part in something we call Lions Pride, it is a difficult challenge that requires them to complete many challenging tasks one of which is to remain silent for a great deal of time. All the aspects of Lions Pride are difficult but the most difficult for me would the silence. We have had campers get out for speaking to bugs that were in their face, for being polite and saying, “excuse me” or “thank you”, and just for forgetting they were not supposed to speak. I would not be able to last but about seven minutes which I know is God’s way of saying I need to shut my mouth and listen to Him better.

I’m reminded of the verses in Habakkuk 2:20 “but the Lord is in His holy temple, let all the earth be silent before Him”. We should be silent before God and consider His awesome power and sovereignty and listen for the still small voice Elijah talks about in I Kings 19:12. I’ll continue to work on this aspect of my prayer life.

Speaking of prayer please be in prayers for us, we only have a few weeks left in Kenya, We still have no clear direction from God about what is next but we know God has an amazing plan for us and look forward to Him revealing it to us.