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Carly Miller recently graduated George Mason University with a Masters of Social Work. This will be her 4th summer serving with FUGE, where she will be Directing at Louisville! Her idea of a perfect day is hammocking in the sunshine with a cup of crushed ice in her hand.

 

 

I had the incredible opportunity to visit South Africa and do ministry with a Fuge team for Spring Break. One day my team went to downtown Johannesburg in a part of the city called Braamfontein. We met up with two members of a local church, Masimba and Cece. We walked around downtown, looking for religious places and people, trying to learn the heartbeat of the city. We prayer walked, prayed with and met members of the community and just tried to learn what the name of Jesus Christ meant to this part of the city. We also would just share the love of Jesus and what He has done in our lives with the people that we met in the community.

We took a break from our time walking around to sit down for lunch and I was able to talk with one of the church members, Cece. She asked me if I do this where I live. I asked, “Do I do what?”. She said “You know, do you walk around, evangelize and tell people about Jesus in your city?” Conviction and guilt set in. I honestly had to think about it for some time. Well, I live life in my city. I go to work. I go to school. I go to church. I try to live my life for Christ and tell friends about him. I try to encourage others in their walks with the Lord. But do I walk around my city purposely looking to meet new people, develop those relationships, and share the gospel with them? I’m going to be real honest and say that that is not normally the primary goal that I have for my everyday life. And why is it not? Cece is here in her city, walking around praying specifically for her city, and telling others about Jesus and what He has done in her life. However my sinful, selfish nature gets in the way and wants to stay comfortable. Throughout my time in Joburg, I definitely learned that I need to break out of my comfort zone and that we as Christians are called to share this GREAT news that we know about Jesus Christ with everyone around us. I also learned that as Christ’s followers, we all have a mission field and are called to it.

Yes, I loved serving the Lord in South Africa and I definitely left a piece of my heart there. And yes, I am already yearning to return there and travel to other parts of the world. But as for now, the Lord has brought me back to the States. Wherever we all are, He has us here for a reason. We are to follow His will and His plan and be “missionaries” wherever we are in life. We are called to give God glory in everything that we do, wherever we are. I encourage you to view where you are at as your mission field. Talk to your neighbors, classmates, coworkers, friends, and strangers. Develop relationships with them, find out where they are in life, and ask what they know about Jesus. Share your heart with them and what the Lord has done in your life. This is not just supposed to happen at camp or on a mission trip, but in our real imperfect lives. And the best part is that the Lord is going to walk right alongside us in this mission!

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you” – Deuteronomy 31:6

But actually go ahead and just read all of Deuteronomy 31 because it just continues to tell of the Lord’s faithfulness. He is going to be faithful to us in this mission! The Lord is not asking us to do this by our own doing, but saying that He will be there with us as we share with others about His goodness. So be strong and have courage! Go out to your mission field (your city, your school, your sports team, your club, your neighborhood), learn how to love and care for those people and share Jesus with them. The Lord will be walking right alongside you.

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Whitney Caves is a Licensed Professional Counselor, speaker, and former FUGE staffer. She and her husband Will, another former FUGE staffer, live in Clinton, MS. Whitney worked camp at five different locations from 2006-2010, and she is forever grateful for the lasting impact that the experience has had on her life. She enjoys reading, telling a good story, and making attempts at ridding her “new” home of all evidence of being built in 1983.  Keep up with Whitney by following her blog at whitneycaves.com.

 

Hearing the sound of “Miss Whitney! Miss Whitney!” Seeing young, old, and in-between faces that didn’t look like mine.  Where the color of your skin never mattered but the color of your heart always did. Learning from an angel who has gone to be with Jesus since I saw her last. Knowing that each moment was a gift, and trying to make them all count. These are the things that I think of when I think of Summer 2010 at Carroll Park.

Carroll Park, located in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, is one of the ministry sites original to MFUGE Philly. Taking up an entire city block, the park was once a dangerous place full of crime, drugs, and gangs. In the 1990’s, the park was renovated, and a group called Carroll Park Neighbors, made up of dedicated citizens who lived in the area, was established to maintain the space. It was the place where I took my Children’s Ministry group each day that summer.

I’ll never forget the first time I saw it. It was full of beautiful trees, colorful playground equipment, and smiling faces. Having grown up in South Mississippi, the inner city of West Philly was as foreign to me as any foreign country would have been. But there was something there that made me know, deep in my spirit, this place is special. God has moved in this place. God is moving in this place now. 

Each week, I would bring my Bible study group to the park. Ms. Doris, the volunteer leader of Carroll Park Neighbors and one of the greatest women I have ever known, would greet my group. She loved to tell the story of the first MFUGE group that ever came to the park, and how the group from the park stared at the strangers who were so different from them, not knowing what to make of them, until one boy stepped out to bridge the gap. He hugged the volunteer closest to him saying, “Welcome to Carroll Park.” She would always end her story by reaching out to hug the person closest to her, welcoming us to Carroll Park, and saying “And it’s been a love story with MFUGE ever since”.

We would come bringing games, crafts, sidewalk chalk, and Bible stories with us. We would arrive each day and the kids would start appearing in droves, bringing with them energy and questions. I tried my best to be organized and divide the kids into different groups. Some days this worked and some days it didn’t, but it never really mattered. Sometimes I would stand back and just take it in—the sight of so many different people, overcoming those differences to laugh and love together, and the sound of the gospel being shared—and I would wonder how I got lucky enough to be a part of it.

When I drove away that last day, I left a piece of my heart in Carroll Park. I couldn’t even talk about it for a while, because it hurt too much to think about that season of my life being over. Technically, I was the one there to make an impact that summer—both on the kids at the park and the campers and adults in my group-but I’m the one who got the biggest blessing.

Ms. Doris passed away long after that summer was over. When I first heard the news, I felt the loss in my bones. Somehow I think I always knew that I wouldn’t see her again here on Earth. But I will meet Ms. Doris again one day, in another place where the voices don’t sound alike and the faces don’t look the same. And when I do, I have a feeling that she will reach out to greet me just like she loved to do to the campers who arrived at her park. But instead of saying “Welcome to Carroll Park”, she’ll say “Welcome Home.”

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Chad_Poe_updated_thumbFor seven years, Chad Poe has been speaking Biblical truth into student’s lives. Chad preaches God’s Word through storytelling, media, and visual experience. As someone not simply called to speak, Chad believes in the importance of relationship and seeks to get to know students when he is away from the stage. Ultimately, Chad hopes to see students moved into a deeper relationship with Christ. 

 

The down payment has been paid for months. You are working the crowd every Sunday and every Wednesday to make sure you fill those last three open spots. Your executive pastor is stressed about how much the bus is going to cost. You have answered 37 questions from the mom of one 6th grade boy that happened to be covered in the information packet that your secretary sent out in February. Rooms have been assigned…and re-assigned…and re-re-assigned. Camp is ready. You are ready.

We know that. You can do this in your sleep. Over your years as a volunteer and/or student pastor, you have logged at least 1 year of that on a plastic cot (and you know why the cot is plastic). The better question is: what are you ready to see happen?

Camp, whether you do it yourself or trust one of the organizations, is a special time in the life of a student ministry. There will be relationships formed that will make or break your group’s future. You will have much more undivided time with student leaders. There are parts of a day where you can play sports or cards or ___________ with kids-just to get to know them. Your group will meet as a whole and rally around the truths that God has taught you that day.

So what should you expect?

Expect students to be transformed by God’s grace. Seeing events through the lense of Acts 17 (He has determined our exact time and place). There will be a teenage boy on your trip who needs to spend time with a Godly man because his dad is anything but that. There will be a young lady who does not feel loved or beautiful that is on a collision course with a worker from the camp or your church who will tell her that she is both. Around every corner, God has a spiritual marker planted for a student to grasp, remember, and cling to when times are difficult. God has placed you, your chaperones, and the camp staff as reflections of His grace.

Expect students to be changed by God’s Word. Whether this is your personal event or you are trusting an organization, pray that students will be impacted by the truth of the Bible. Take notes on what is said from the stage and engage students in conversation about the messages. Ask them about the meaning of the lyrics they sing (or don’t sing). Seek to redeem moments with students that they may not have found to be valuable. For your students who are believers, this is teaching Biblical discipleship. For those who have not placed faith in Christ, this allows you to thread the Gospel into the everyday in hopes of seeing them drawn to Jesus.

Expect students to struggle with commitments when they get home. There is something special about seclusion. It clears our heads and helps us to refocus. Your students will make ideal commitments and attempt to put them into practice in less than ideal situations. The struggles that were addressed while away will still be an obstacle for them when they arrive home. Jesus has told us that there are many troubles in this world. Be prepared for bubbles to burst and students to need you.

Expect the opportunity for discipleship. Before we ever leave for camp, it is beneficial to have follow-ups in place. What leaders do you already have who can disciple students when the decisions are made? What personalities do you see matching up? For the students who have walked away with a desire to lead-do you have a place where they can? By acting on the front side of an event, we save ourselves frantic reaction when it concludes.

Expect God to do immeasurably more than you expected. Read through Ephesians 3:15-20. God is worth the time and effort and sleeplessness and worth all of the other things that could be added to this list. He will strengthen students who are weak. Christ will save students who you thought were not savable and call students who you found uncallable. Wisdom will be found in His Word and students will grow in the knowledge of God the Father. Christ will break ground that begin to root and ground students in love. Look at your trip with gospel eyes and respond to craziness with a gracious, sacrificial heart-because that is how Christ has met you.

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.