ROSCOMMON, MI – On Monday morning, July 11th more than 20 women leaders prepared the courses and finalized the routes for an amazing “Run the Race” Girls’ Missions Camp week. By midafternoon, parent’s had finished dropping their runners (campers) off at the starting gate in their respective lanes (cabins). The list of runners totaled 108 excited participants, representing several churches in all of our 14 Michigan Associations.
A year’s worth of planning had all come down to this long anticipated moment, the start of the “Race”. “On your marks, get set…GO!” Runners were ready for a challenging, spiritually awakening experience that would provide a life changing mile marker for many. By Monday evening the Runners were off and moving at a great pace. The girls got acquainted with their coaches and teammates for the week. A station break at the camp ground pavilion offered a great cookout meal and fellowship time.
Fitbits would continue to rack up the miles as the rest of the week would move runners into exploratory Bible studies, moving worship services, and engaging missionary lessons. One of Michigan’s own missionaries, Mrs. Sharon Hessling, who served in West Africa with the International Mission Board was the guest missionary for the week. Hessling shared with the girls her heart for missions, told stories of her work in North Africa, and offered opportunities for cultural experiences. Tasting foods, drinking tea and dressing in native outfits became unforgettable moments for the girls.
On one leg of the race, Hessling challenged the Runners as she virtually took them down the “Dusty Dirt Road”. She stressed the importance of training well in the Word of God, and being ready to choose to say, “Okay God I’m ready.” “Run, (insert your name) Run”, God is with you whenever you are going in His will! Finishing the challenge with, “when you allow God to step in, you will always win!”
Developing strengths in the Runners was a high priority of the camp environment. Building on team spirit was an important quality that was encouraged as the Runners trained in canoeing, paddle boating, swimming, volleyball and mini-golf. Home cooking skills, sewing, and crafting were opportunities for hands on projects. Archery, fishing and a guided hike through the woods with the Department of Natural Resources officer gave girls a first time chance to experience the northern Michigan outdoors at a new level.
Preparing future leaders for a mission lifestyle was the overall objective of the camp experience. This race would not be completed until the Runners maneuvered through the obstacle course of the Missions Celebration. Each team put what they had learned all week into practice, and held a Missions Celebration to share with compassion their love for each other. As many were about to “hit the wall”, encouraging teammates would continue to cheer them on to be all they could be, as we serve together.
A missions offering totaling $500.00 was collected for The Bridge Gathering Church, a church plant in Port Huron, MI and Sarnia, Ontario. Warren & Sharon Hessling are on the core leadership team of The Bridge Gathering. As the runners approached the race finish line, the most important leg of the race was before them. The opportunity to make a decision. The decision to accept Jesus into their heart was made by 8 of the girls. Several decisions of rededication and interest to serve in the mission field where also voiced.
Was it an Amazing Race? You be the judge, at the finish line…
“I’m going to be honest I didn’t really want to come to this camp. But once I got here everyone was super friendly. And it is really fun they have swimming, paddle boating, canoeing, canteen and other things. But the best part is the special guest because you get to talk to a missionary and understand that we are so blessed.”
Trinady (9th grade Oakland Woods)
“The best part of camp is the new friends that I made."
Tara (5th grade, Lakeside community Church)
“I love camp! It is so much fun and it allows me to get much closer to God!”
Shay (6th grade, Eastside Community Church)
“You learn things that you never could guess in a million years!”
Jade (6th grade, Eastside Community)
“I love this camp because you meet amazing people and every time I come I get really excited about missions and sharing the gospel. Everyone is just so awesome!”
Annabelle (6th grade, Abundant Life, Gaylord)
“There were many fun activities, you get close to the members in your cabin and make new friends. Nobody treated me differently for my food allergies and the food that I could eat was delicious.”
Melody (9th grade, Anchor Community Church)
“I liked meeting new people.”
Brianna (10th grade, Faith Outreach Fellowship)
“I like how I connected with Jesus!”
Morgan (9th grade, Temple of Faith)
“This year was my first year, it was awesome and I will see you next year!”
Emily ( 7th grade, Anchor Community Church
“We were scared to death, as we have never left our baby girl anywhere, ever! After her 1st year at camp Arvella came home a different girl, more caring and thoughtful than ever before! This year is no different, while we missed her so much, we’re so glad she had the opportunity to go again. She's walking in faith and where God leads, she follows!! Thank you so much!”
Anna Stanley, Lakepointe Church
“These pictures really warm my heart. It is great to see how God is moving among the girls in Michigan.”
Dee McCardle, retired NAMB
“God continues to bless us at camp. The week has been exciting as we watch the girls grow in their relationship with God as life changing commitments were made.”
Nelda Popkey, Camp Director
“Don’t Quit! You have just finished a remarkable race, but this is just one of many, continue to prepare well, training in the Word, and always look toward the prize, Jesus Christ! I am looking forward to having you all on the team as we share missions in Michigan!”
Sue Hodnett, Ex. Director, WMU of Michigan
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Sue Hodnett is the Women’s Ministry & WMU Consultant for the BSCM as well as the Executive Director for WMU of Michigan. She attends Lakepointe Church in Macomb, MI.