Laborers

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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8 Things You Should Know About FUGE Camps

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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!

SLA: Authentic Community

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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.

 

 

SLA: Intentionality & Flexibility

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Walt Harper is a junior at the University of South Carolina where he studies psychology. This summer will be Walt’s third summer with FUGE, serving as the XFuge Host for the past two summers and Assistant Director this year. Walt loves spending time with his family and friends, the 90s, watching Netflix for hours on end, and Carolina football.

For those of you who don’t know, Student Leader Apprentice (or SLA) is a two-week program FUGE offers for students going into or just finishing their senior year of high school. During these two weeks, participants will take part in team-building exercises, Bible studies, and shadowing an actual FUGE staffer. I had the privilege of being a part of this experience. It was two of the most exciting, revolutionary, hilarious, and humbling weeks of my life so far. God taught me so much during my time at SLA. More than I ever expected. But of all the things I took away from those two weeks, two things stand out that I think prepared me for staff: intentionality and flexibility.

Intentionality. I had never heard this word before SLA. Honestly, I didn’t really know what it meant the first time Sean Marie, our SLA leader, said it. Intentionality is defined online as “done with purpose.” My prayer going into those two weeks was that God would break down walls for me and those I met. Man, did He come through on that one! Within the first two days of being there, my SLA group had gone from superficial conversations about school to deep, pointed conversations about our faith, scripture, and ministry. I had never been so encouraged and pushed in my faith by people my own age! It was such a blessing to be a part of such an intentional group of students. Even better: seeing the love of Christ reflected in our friendships. We bonded instantly and began to form real community. Praying for each other’s needs and struggles, sharing what God was teaching us, and encouraging each other daily through scripture and prayer. I came to realize how intentional God had been with me all my life, and I was to reflect that in my relationships I formed.

Flexibility. One thing a former youth pastor would tell us when we went on mission trips was, “you better be ready to preach, pray, sing, or die at a moment’s notice.” While that may sound a little morbid toward the end, we always laughed, knowing he was encouraging us to leave our comfort zones. During the second week of SLA, I was assigned to shadow Hamilton, a PCY (painting, construction, and yard work) track leader. To be honest, I always avoided PCY like the plague as a camper. It wasn’t that I didn’t like being outside, but it just wasn’t something I felt I was good doing. When I had gotten my assignment, I felt a little nervous and slightly defeated. “Well, there goes my second week, down the drain,” I thought. Thankfully, our great God had other things in store. That week, I was brought so far out of my comfort zone on site. God taught me that His plan is greater, even (or especially) when we have differing ones. That week was probably the best week on site that I had ever experienced at camp, getting to help lead and love students.

Yes, intentionality and flexibility were both extremely important for staff life. But more importantly, they have been SO important in my everyday life. God knew what awaited me when I got home from SLA: college life and the challenges and struggles that come with it. I was constantly reminded by God to be intentional not only with other people on campus, but with my time as well. To make sure that I gave Him the time He deserves. I was pushed to be flexible with ministry opportunities I received and class scheduling, knowing that at the end of the day, God was to be glorified in it all. I wouldn’t trade my two weeks with my SLAmily at SLA for anything and I am so thankful I was given the chance to participate in this program. If you or one of your students is thinking about applying, go with Nike’s slogan: just do it!

 

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Awaken to the Journey: Devotion by Gary Morgan

 

GaryMorganBlogPhotoGary Morgan does life in Nashville, TN with his wife of 22 years, Johni, his two daughters McKenna (15) and Story (12) and his dog Kramer. Gary pastors Mosaic, a community of faith in urban Nashville. You can check out Mosaic on the web at mosaicnashville.org. Gary enjoys reading, coffee, conversation and laughter. He is an ongoing learner of culture and theology and really digs listening to stories about other’s spiritual journeys

 Awaken to the Journey

Gary Morgan-FUGE Camp Pastor

 

National Geographic and a student’s favorite research site, Wikipedia (which their teachers ask them not to use) describe the movie March of the Penguins, as an award-winning documentary where one can see the story of the Emperor Penguins and how they experience a journey like no other. Thousands of Emperor penguins brave icy winds, freezing temperatures, and starvation in this incredible, true story of the continuation of the penguin life cycle. The penguins travel in single file hundreds of miles, crisscrossing Antarctica under the harshest conditions on Earth.

If you have seen the movie or heard the story, you know it is truly an amazing story of journey, family, love and mission.

There is also an amazing story of a journey written in Genesis 12:1-9. Take a few moments to check it out.

  • What are your thoughts concerning Abram’s journey?
  • What does this mean to you?

 Could we awaken to the fact that God invites each of us on a journey with Him? We too are called to travel with God. But sometimes, we’re too preoccupied to hear the invitation, too proud to consider the request, too busy doing too many things, or even too busy talking. In our prayer lives we spend all kinds of time talking, telling God what we want instead of listening to what He has in mind for us.

So, let’s listen to the words of the Psalmist, “Come and see the wonders of God; His acts for humanity are awe-inspiring.” Psalm 66:5

And to the writing in the Book of Jeremiah, “‘For I know the plans I have for you”—this is the Lord’s declaration —“plans for your welfare, not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope. You will call to Me and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you.’” Jeremiah 29:11-12

For the next several minutes, take time simply to be in the presence of God. Relinquish your future to God’s plans. Let God direct what your future will hold.

I know you have thoughts about the rest of your life, but the truth is you have about as much control over your future as you do over the direction the wind is going to blow.

Relinquish the path your feet are going to take AND Awaken to the Journey God has in mind for you.

Why FUGE? A Staffer’s Perspective…

</pMeagan has worked as a FUGE staffer for five summers, three summers as a track leader and two as a MFUGE site director. Currently, Meagan lives in Nashville where she works as a nanny and is also enrolled as a full time student to The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary where she is pursuing a Master of Divinity in Missions. Meagan loves road trips, good books, and big cups of coffee. 

It’s not every day that people ask me why I work FUGE camps. As I prepare for my sixth summer of camp, however, the question keeps popping up in conversation. The first summer I worked camp, I was in college and my desire to spend the summer serving students did not surprise people. The second summer I worked camp, people understood that decision, but they figured this would be my last summer. The third summer I worked camp, people became more puzzled, but since I was in a transitional season of life, they figured this summer would be my last “hoorah” after graduating from college. The fourth summer I worked camp, people were confused and instead of asking “why?” asked “do you not have a real job?” The fifth summer I worked camp, people were shocked I was going back for yet another summer and some people concerned for my future, looked at me and asked, “So, why do you keep going back? Why do you choose to work FUGE again and again?”

For five years I’ve traded summers of sitting by the pool, going on family trips to the beach, shooting fireworks with my friendson the 4th of July, mornings of sleeping in, and weekend road trips, to work camp where summers are full of cafeteria food (“Asian Delight” day, I’m still not over you), little sleep, dorm living, thousands of teenagers, and a wardrobe that has already been decided for me.

Why would I do that? Why would I quit my job, leave my friends, and give up my summer to serve churches and minister to students and the community?

Because…

I’ve seen students and adults lives changed

I love experiencing a staff of strangers becoming closer than family

I love serving the community through new ministries each summer

I love screaming about a relay race until my voice is gone

I love free t-shirts

I love worshiping with hundreds of people every night of the summer

I love how clearly I can hear the Lord’s voice when I’m at camp

There is nothing like dancing like a fool at 8AM

You get to meet and connect with more students and adults than in any other context

12AM after MEGA relay is when Waffle House tastes the best

Exhaustion has never felt more rewarding

I think camp gives us a clearer picture of the Kingdom

I love the community and friendship of a camp staff

The best naps I’ve ever taken are after closing celebration on the last day of camp

Camp is a small picture of what an abundant life in Christ should look like

It’s challenging, but the rewards way outweigh the hard days

I love helping equip people to do ministry

There is nothing better than being part of students and adults going from death to life in Christ

I could probably go on and on forever with reasons why I love and choose to work FUGE camps. The biggest reason I work FUGE, though, is because I believe in the life change that happens at camp. I have seen campers and adults come to know Jesus for the first time. I have seen and been a part of life change in Sub-Saharan Africa because of the missions offering given at camp. I have experienced life change for myself. Thanks to FUGE I have been able to serve in communities from Greenville, SC, to Johannesburg, South Africa, to Glorieta, NM, to New Orleans, LA, to Asheville, NC.

I feel beyond blessed to have been part of this ministry for five plus years. Six years ago when I applied to work FUGE for the first time I could have never imagined how different my life would look now because of the impact of this ministry and the work God has done in my life though camp. His grace is overwhelming and his joy is truly a gift.

“I have come that they may have life and have it in abundance.” John 10:10

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