“Abundantly Far More”

Date Posted: 
Monday, September 21, 2015

By Kelsey Wielenga

HIS Work Camp shows students and staff God works beyond what they can imagine

In a sentence, HIS (Hands in Service) Work Camp is an “experience offered to high school students and adult leaders who strive to honor God as they serve physically, share their faith relationally, and grow spiritually.” Simple, right? Wrong. You can’t put an entire week into a single sentence. This year’s work camp stretched and challenged us, and not just as we shingled, painted, remodeled, laid flooring, and cleaned up yards in Alcoa, Tennessee.

HIS Work Camp, sponsored by Synod of the Heartland Youth Ministries, has been running since 1990, but this year’s was different right from the start. During registration, director Bob Cleveringa received terrible news. His daughter had been badly injured in a car accident and airlifted to the hospital. Bob went home to be with his family, leaving big shoes to fill in Tennessee. Brad Schelling of First Priority of America stepped into Bob’s place, did an incredible job, and was stretched to new levels.

The differences didn’t end there. This year, Bob’s assistant, Kristin Oordt, stayed at the office to work on upcoming events and sent me, the intern, in her place. Between Bob’s absence and the emotional pain of knowing my friend, Bob’s daughter, was suffering, I felt unprepared. But Brad and I worked as a team to try to run the work camp like any other. (Bob’s daughter is now recovering well.)

More stretching came when the speaker, Jason Taylor, asked the students to learn and memorize the theme verse of Ephesians 3:20-21 throughout the week. During the second session, Jason asked if anyone could recite the verse yet. Not expecting an answer, he was surprised when one young man stood up.

“I think I know it.”

“All right, go ahead.”

“Now to him, by the power—ah, I knew this was going to happen. Sorry, I don’t know the verse.” The young man started to sit down.

“Oh no no no no. You’re not done. I have learned that if a piece of Scripture is started, someone will always finish it...Go ahead, young man.”

“Now to him, who by the power at work within us—”

“—is able to do—,” came from the far corner of crowd.

The young man continued, “—abundantly far more than we can ever ask for or imagine. To him be the glory of the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Jason stretched this young man to go through the struggle. He did not discourage him or let him quit. Jason allowed the group to come together to help out. He made a team out of 150 students and adults and together they completed the verse.

Leadership is not developed by a program but instead through challenges and opportunities we face. Often these experiences happen with little or no preparation. Our reliance on God defines the gifts he has given us.

At this year’s HIS Work Camp, the young man who stumbled in his Scripture recitation was encouraged to continue and supported to succeed. The young leaders who stepped in for the director discovered they could accomplish the task when faced with the challenge.

Indeed, God accomplished abundantly far more than all we could have asked or imagined.

Kelsey Wielenga was a summer intern for Synod of the Heartland youth ministries.

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