libby2Libby Shwartz is a senior at NC State University studying Interpersonal Communication. She finds joy in early morning cups of coffee, acrylic paints, and Ben Rector music. This upcoming summer will be her second summer as a Centrifuge Bible Study Leader. She worked Ridgecrest last year and is very excited to serve at Union University this upcoming summer!  She recently had the opportunity to go to Johannesburg, South Africa with some fellow FUGE staffers and loved every second of it.

 

The ground there is nothing but dirt, sand and rocks. The sun shines bright and beams rays of heat that leaves white skin burnt and crisp. The homes stand just short of seven feet tall, made of plastic, metal and cardboard. And the clothes are freshly washed and hanging on a line to dry.

I left my heart in this place. In Soweto, a township of Gauteng, South Africa, that is.

It was left in six year old Offensa’s little shack where Offensa, my teammate and I had an impromptu funny face competition which was quickly followed by sounds of giggles filling the small room. It was left with Offensa’s mother, who was single, unemployed and dedicated to raising a twelve month old baby girl and six year old Offensa with cerebral palsy. It was left when Offensa ran up and gave me an endearing hug goodbye and the sweet memory of walking away, turning around moments later and seeing him still watching us in the street.

It was left in the welcoming greetings and the quick connections where strangers instantly became friends. It was left with the beautiful moments where difference in language did not halt communication, but enhanced it. It was left in the moments of roaring laughter and ear to ear smiles on the faces of seven South African children who wanted nothing more than to be held, chased and loved. It was left in the memory of three of them piling onto my lap and taking turns popping my air filled checks with their tiny hands.

Lastly, and most importantly, it was left with the unfamiliar, but powerful sounds of the Gospel being spoken in Zulu and the reminder that the God we serve embraces culture and His power far surpasses any language or cultural barrier.

My heart is still there. Can’t you tell?

To be completely honest, walking to class this morning was a big challenge. It was hard for me to realize and accept that when I got off that seventeen hour flight yesterday, I said goodbye to South Africa and unwillingly welcomed America back into my life.

As small as this is, it really bothers me that I can’t greet people as I go to class in the mornings without getting a death glare and a snicker here and there from the people surrounding me.

It really bothers me that I feel the pressure to look presentable and nice everywhere I go because of a deep fear of man’s rejection.

It really bothers me that everyday I am subjected to the demands of American culture and its teachings that preach pride and discontentment.

So, you ask, what did I learn in my short time in South Africa? I learned just this. With humility and service, comes contentment. When we are focused less on ourselves and more on the Lord and His work, we begin to deeply appreciate the Gospel in a way that transforms first, our hearts and second, our words and deeds. We lose sight of our own self and become transformed by Jesus, who simply desires our humble submission to His call.

We are called to be laborers. Laborers who attack with intentionality, pursue with truth, and love with grace. So see to it, friends. Because, there is so much work to be done.

Then he said to his disciples, “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest.” -Matthew 9:37-38

 

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Claudia Brown is a graduating senior at Auburn University studying Agricultural Communications. This  will be Claudia’s third summer with FUGE serving as Assistant Director in Mobile. She has previously served as an Assistant Director in California and a Mission FUGE Bible Study Leader at North Greenville University. Claudia really enjoys watching Auburn sports, swing dancing, and spending time with those she loves.

 

Unforgettable, life changing experiences from missions to worship. Your youth group will never be the same after attending FUGE camps.

1) It isn’t pronounced “fudge,” its FUGE.

The name “FUGE” came from the scientific lab equipment called a centrifuge. A centrifuge is an apparatus which spins solutions, separating the parts as to different weights and densities. To function effectively, a centrifuge must have an immovable center point. As a youth camp, FUGE mixes students and adults from various churches for one week into specialized groups. Students are spun out into Bible study and recreation groups which affirm them as unique beings created by God and draw them nearer to God who is the immovable center point. At the end of the week, students are brought back together and sent out to make a significant impact on their homes, churches, schools, and communities.

2) So You Wanna Know The Staffers?

Every element of camp is taken care of for each church group that comes to camp. That’s right youth ministers, get excited!  Staffers will be teaching and leading Bible study, recreation, and even silly dances while having intentional conversations with students. The staffers wake up and go to bed ready to serve and be full of energy.

3) Church camp means Bible study.

Every morning of camp, students meet with their Bible study groups to dive into God’s Word to learn more about who Christ is and what He has done for them. This year’s theme is Alive and Free.  Students will be looking at the freedom from the bondage of sin which they can find in Christ and realizing what it feels like to truly be alive!

4) Night Life equals fun time!

Each night of camp, we have something fun in store for your students. This year, our first night will be a celebration with music, lights, glow sticks, black lights, lots of fun and more. Another night, students will be led in an interactive worship night. Some of our locations will also have a costume game night so check out your location’s information to figure out if this applies to your youth group.

5) Worship is dynamic and relevant.

Every night after dinner, the entire camp comes together for a time of worship. Each camp location has an awesome camp pastor and worship leader who will lead this time together. The messages of the camp pastor will relate with the Bible study the students heard that morning, therefore reinforcing what they have been learning at camp.

6) Camp equips your church group.

Never fear, you will not be going through camp without your church youth group all day, every day. Each night after worship, you get to meet up with your church group and reflect on what the Lord has done for your students that day. This time tends to be key growth time for many youth groups, creating a really tight bond.

7) Time for Mega Relay!

At the end of the week, on the last full day of camp, there is an intense head-to-head relay game where every Bible study group competes against each other in the hopes of obtaining the FUGE cup. It is a time of high energy, messy, fun, silliness that cannot accurately be described. So get excited!

8) ITS LIFECHANGING CAMPS!

FUGE is probably most highly known for their slogan of being a life changing camp. As someone who was a camper every year she could be and now serving as an assistant director, I can say I have never experienced a summer of camp where my life has not been changed. God definitely has His hand on every location that FUGE has to offer and, I can guarantee that no matter where you go, God will be there. He will move in incredible ways. So, what are you waiting for? Sign up and take your students to camp!

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Craig Barrack trusted Christ as his Lord and Savior when he was a senior in high school. Less than a year later, God called him to the ministry. He has been serving as faithfully as he knows how through good and bad times since 1995. He finished his Master’s Degree in Youth Ministry under one of the best mentors. He is married to his college sweetheart, Tammy, and they serve together in Crandall Texas at Central Baptist Church. Their son, Stephen reaps the benefits of being their youth group mascot, serving Christ alongside of them as well.

Ministry is one of life’s 24/7/365 jobs. No other calling is so rewarding yet so draining. In the end, though Jesus is our reward, and He graces us with His Spirit to move in and through us. From day to day, how does someone access the gifts and wisdom that God promises?

Five S’s of the Spiritual Disciplines
Security in your call is necessary. Without a solid and secure foundation that is your call to the ministry, your footing at times will seem unsure and unstable. Go back to the time when God spoke into your heart and your life through His voice, circumstances and those around you. How did you feel? What was going on? How did God speak into your life? Those memories will spark in you the security that God did it. He made the impact and presented the call. No pastor, board, teen, parent, or bad day will ever take that away.

Self discipline is essential (1Timothy 1:7). Your commitment to grow and develop your craft will carry you far. So, manage your time. Eliminate and deal appropriately with each distraction. Self-discipline will help you grow in your walk and have a real impact on your ability to resist temptation. This will help you grow significantly. For without growth there will be no fruit. For without fruit, there is no evidence of abiding in Christ (John 15).

Self Examination is critical. You must be keenly aware of your weakness and strengths. What are the things that God could use for the Kingdom? On the contrary, what are the things that if you did not watch closely, could cause you to lose your testimony or disqualify you? Be keenly aware of who you are and of what you are capable? Louie Giglio once said, “Anyone at anytime, given the right circumstances is capable of anything.”

Solitude is a must. Find times to refresh and remain in His presence without the distractions and other commitments weighing on your mind (Mark 1:35, Psalm 46:10). The whole bottom line of Psalm 46:10 is that we are refreshed and renewed so that He may be exalted in all the earth. We have that much impact. We must worship personally. When we lead, often we are thinking of logistics, timeline, details, maybe even praying for others. This makes continuing to grow and serve well difficult. Even Jesus had personal times of solitude often before times of great crisis.

Soak up every ounce of nourishment you can from reliable resources. Find a mentor. Stay grounded in His Word. Stay committed to knowing and abiding in the Word. If you do not continue to go to the well (the Word) for nourishment, you will run dry and so will those whom you serve. Make sure you are soaking up from wise mentors and others who are in your peer group. It is essential to have people that you can go to and bounce ideas off or even be someone who corrects you and disciplines you in love.

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Scott Huff serves as the Student Pastor at Coastal Community Church in Charleston, SC. He has a Bachelor’s Degree from Hannibal LaGrange University and a Master’s of Divinity from The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Scott and his wife, Lori, had their first child, Carly, in August of 2014. Scott is also the owner of www.stuminsidekick.com – a resource community for student pastors. Scott has a calling on his life to impact the lives of teenagers with the Gospel and to lead them to strengthen their faith for use in an ever-changing world. He has been a FUGE camp pastor since 2011 and is aggressive in the area of campus ministry as a mission field for teenagers. You can follow him on Twitter: @scotthuff

FUGE this past summer was extremely encouraging. I love seeing students as they worship with everything they have. They are intent on listening to the messages and serving in the community in which they have adopted for the week. I was even more encouraged by a young man at FUGE at Charleston Southern University this summer when he approached me after my message on one particular night.

Nick was an 18 year old young man who had grown up in a Christian home as the son of a pastor. He attended Christian school and was in the church building every time the doors were opened. He knew all of the Bible stories one might hear while being in church every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night. He even knew all of the lessons taught in vacation Bible school, children’s church, and AWANA’s. But what he never knew was Jesus Christ personally through his own, sincere and authentic faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior of his life. Most of us would ask: how does this happen to a young man who is entrenched in the very family dynamic, program filled life, and Biblically saturated teachings we all would say is an ideal situation?

I learned from talking to Nick that he had head knowledge but never heart knowledge. He knew what he was supposed to do and think but he never really knew why it was so important. He knew that Jesus loved him and wanted him in church, to read his Bible, to pray and worship, and to be nice to everyone by being a good kid. The ideas of what it means to be a Christ-follower never transferred over into his own heart where he was doing these things because he had a relationship with Christ. He actually thought these “disciplines” made him a believer; therefore he was good to go! But God moved in this young man’s heart that night and he realized he was doing these things out of discipline, not out of love for his Savior. He turned his life over to Christ because he was convicted about the sin in his life and because he was separated from God due to that sin.

Where did things go wrong for this young man while growing up? Was his Christian school to blame? What about his Christian family including his dad, the pastor? Maybe the programs at his church were not organized well or were taught by inferior teachers? I don’t believe it was any of these things. I believe God moved at a particular time in his life for a reason. I believe God was writing Nick’s story a little different than we would. I believe God wanted Nick to grow up in these surroundings before realizing his sin separated him from God and the “churchy things” he was doing were not closing the gap. God moved at FUGE that week and Nick is now a child of God for all eternity.

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Payton Moree has served the past two summers as an SLA in Nashville. She is originally from Metro Atlanta and is currently pursuing a degree in Global Studies from Boyce College at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. Payton loves to laugh, drink coffee, get new stamps on her passport, and attend Fuge Camps! 

 

 

I fell in love with this group of people; these eight people who I lived life with, seven who were my age and one who was a tad older, our fearless leader. This woman led us with her whole heart and she led us oh so well. I often get asked why these people whom I just met matter so much. Well, it’s because you learn every part of them, you know what they like and what they don’t. You learn their fears and their dreams. You know what makes them laugh and at times see them cry. You live together (same gender of course, keep it FUGE people), eat almost every meal together, worship together, do laundry together, have Bible study together, serve together, and see life change happen together. I say all this to say you literally do every aspect of life together.

I’m talking about SLA, Student Leader Apprentice, the program where I had the ability to serve for two summers, a total of four weeks. During the course of my four weeks at SLA, I was challenged to live in an authentic, give-all-you-can community. Every aspect of life was shared and this brought about radical life change!

One night during my second year, I remember sitting in a circle with my group and the things God had been teaching became real to me. That night I just laid down everything that was going on and did God move in power that night! I found myself broken as I admitted the things God was showing me. I began to cry in front of these people for the first time. I allowed them to see my broken struggling self. As I poured out my heart, I took a moment to glance at those in my group— not a dry eye. I realized then that they were crying because they shared this burden with me, they were feeling this pain and brokenness with me. Just like an authentic community.

However, I couldn’t just sit on this. This authentic community gave me an opportunity to serve, because it had given me a small glimpse of what Heaven is like and I wanted others to have that as well! I wanted everyone to see this glimpse with me, so when I went into the surrounding community of Nashville, I shared what I could and I offered those I encountered the most important thing I had, Jesus Christ. When you experience authentic community in Christ, it leads to better service and this is exactly what SLA is if you make it.

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SLA is a two-week program offered by FUGE Camps for students who have completed their junior and senior years of high school. This is a two-week program available at Belmont University in Nashville and Glorieta in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Students learn leadership skills and shadow a FUGE staffer. Applications are available online at www.fuge.com. Deadline to apply is February 9, 2015.

 

 

Tim BertramArtist, Preacher, Substitute Teacher. Tim uses his talents as an artist to encourage and challenge listeners to follow an incredible God to anywhere He will take them. Tim has an art ministry called “God’s Graffiti” where he travels everywhere proclaiming Jesus through word and art and encouraging the Body to use their gift. He has worked in student ministry for over 20 years, pastors camps, speaks at schools and in his free time substitute teaches. Tim and his wife Sherry, just became empty nesters! Their two children, Victoria and Tanner attend Murray State University. Victoria has served as a CentriKid staffer and will serve with MFuge this coming summer. The Bertram’s are a FUGE family. They live and serve in Paducah, Kentucky. You can find out more about Tim and God’s Graffiti Ministry at www.godsgraffiti.org

 

I remember the first year I stopped taking students to Centrifuge and started taking them to MFuge. Don’t get me wrong, I love me some Centrifuge, but I was looking for something that would push my students to the next level in their spiritual growth and MFuge was just the place! Many of the students shared their displeasure with me changing their camp experience. Several thought that I had lost my mind!
Summer came. We arrived on campus at Belmont University and camp began. The students were excited, but a few were still unsure of the change in venue. After the first full day of being on site, three of my freshmen boys found me and said, “We need to talk to you”. My heart sank and my thoughts immediately ran to something going terribly wrong. I just knew they were going to tell me that we should have never changed camps.
We sat down together in the dorm room and they began to share with me about their day. All three boys were in the same track. They went to a Metro Nashville Parks facility where they were playing basketball with the children who hang out at the center. While playing basketball, they noticed a young boy named Cheico. Cheico was around nine years old and wore glasses. They told me that the lenses from his glasses kept falling out of the frames when he played. The glasses were taped together and fragile. Because the lenses kept falling out, Cheico had to quit playing basketball for the day because that was his only pair and his mother could not afford to buy him a new pair. This broke my student’s hearts. They thought no one should have to quit playing basketball because of broken glasses. What they shared with me next brought me to tears. “Bro. Tim, we want to buy him a new pair!” I have to admit, I have never been more proud of my students than at that time.
We managed to get the prescription from Cheico’s mother by working with our MFuge staff and a Metro Parks Coordinator. When we returned home from camp, the boys brought me money they had collected…what a humbling experience! With their money and the help from a church member (who was more than happy to help after he heard the story), we hooked Cheico up with a brand new pair of really cool “X-Games” glasses. We packed them. Prayed over them. Then mailed them out.
That day these students saw a need. Their hearts were moved with compassion and, they acted to meet the need. James chapter 2 in action!
I will never forget that story. It is one of my favorite camp stories to date. I have been involved in student ministry for many years. I have often wondered, “do they get it?” That summer, I got to witness first hand God working through three teenage boys to meet the need of a young boy. They definitely got it! Read more…