Dear Friends and Family,
I would like to share with you a story from last summer’s camp season. It was during one of our “Sunshine” weeks which are for mentally and physically handicapped campers. After one of our cabin times, one of our campers who is in his early to mid twenties said in his stammering speech, “Sam, I would like to talk to you privately.” So, his counselor, my camper and I waited as everyone else left the cabin for the next thing, and then we sat down on opposite beds to talk.
“Saaaam,” he said, with his faltering words, “I have been thinking about my life, about my time on this earth coming to an end…and Saaaam…” his voice broke as he began to cry, “I am afraid to die!” We were able to share with him Hebrews 2:14 which says that Jesus died to “deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to life long slavery.” (ESV) I thought I had heard that this camper had made a decision at his church in the past, but in this moment he was not sure of things, so we talked through the Gospel with him, he prayed, and it made a difference.
Being delivered from the fear of death is a beautiful thing, whether that be the fear of the death of our plans or literal physical death like in the verse above. This deliverance from fear is a truth many of us have clung closely to during this season of ministry. When I was in High School we were required to read a book entitled “A Tale of Two Cities,” which opened with the famous lines, “It was the best of times. It was the worst of times.” If I were to honestly describe this season of ministry, I would say, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…but it was still the best of times.” I’ll try to explain what I mean.
I am thrilled to be doing ministry locally in Eastern Kentucky and travelling to do ministry wherever I am asked. I love time on the road meeting the people of God and seeking to serve them and I love time in town having the privilege of serving those who God has place here. With a new CD coming out this past summer, I had intended on hitting the road quite heavily, seeking to share the messages that God had laid on my heart, telling folks about the work of KMM, and seeking to continue to raise my needed support. However, an arm injury that lasted for months and on going problems with my tonsils put this on hold. As always, in spite of this and even through this, God had a plan.
As most of you know, in December, my dear friends, Scotty and Amy Brandenburg, were told that their 8 year old daughter, Julia, had an inoperable brain tumor. Many of you felt the devastation of that news with us. As things progressed, it was clear that Scotty needed to be at home. During this time, because I was in town more than I expected to be, I had the honor of filling in speaking for Scotty on Wednesday nights at the Bear Track Bible Church youth group. I was also able to add Scotty’s day of teaching at the Rec Center to my schedule. We have been home schooling a young man who was kicked out of our local public school, and he is doing quite well. It has been a great opportunity for discipleship.
The past several weeks have been rough, with the home-going of my cousin-in-law Cheri Judd (sister of KMM intern Tammy Hall) and Julia. One of the greatest honors of my life was being asked to play at Julia’s funeral where we celebrated her life. We have grieved and do grieve, but we do not grieve as those without hope. We do not grieve as those who live in fear. We grieve with hope, and because of this hope, we boldly seek to serve faithfully in the time God has given us. It is this hope of peace with God, of knowing Him as His friend, that we seek to share with those around us, and God is at work!
In this season, life has also sprung up! We are in the midst of our retreats, and so far, nine boys from my cabins have accepted the Lord! I was able to lead another young man to the Lord, a young man who had been in my cabin last year and had apparently been convicted all year long about his need to be saved. The seed had been sown, God watered, and it was harvest time! This last weekend, as we took the kids home on the bus, four young ladies accepted the Lord!
Please pray for us as we move into the summer camp season, that we will be able to faithfully and compellingly share how we have been delivered from the fear of death because we have come to know Him who is the Life! Thank you so much for all your prayers and financial support. I do not take any of it for granted and am so grateful to each of you. You are truly partners with me in this ministry. If you know of any speaking or singing opportunities where I can share about KMM, please let me know, as I am still seeking to finish raising my support.