God has a way of working in mysterious ways to fulfill his grandeur plan for the Kingdom. In the
summer of 1982, as I rolled into Mahoning Valley Camp in a Blue GMC van that was smoking from a massive oil leak, little did I know that I was part of that plan. Six college students from Johnson Bible College (Declaration) came to Mahoning Valley to serve in a High School Week of Camp.
The Man, The Myth, the Legend
My first camper encounter was with this blond mammoth of a kid in the boy’s dorm. He was solid as a rock and towered over the other High School Campers. It was good that I was bigger because he was very intimidating. My first meal on that Sunday evening was pizza from Dominos. The pizzas were all lined up on several tables outside the dining hall. I recall sitting down at a picnic table with a piece of pepperoni pizza, and along came this mammoth camper with three pizza boxes from the table in hand. He sat down on the same side of the picnic table, and with all of our
eight combined, all inhabitants at the table, including food, went flying through the hot summer air.
This is the Story
He and I began a relationship that hot Sunday evening in July that was the beginning of a great adventure God set into motion. His name was Jeremy Souders. For the next two summers, I returned to Mahoning Valley representing Johnson Bible College with Declaration. Every summer, I was greeted by Jeremy Souders. I encouraged him to go to Johnson Bible College when he graduated high school, and he listened to me (imagine that).
The Band is back together.
I returned to Mahoning Valley via a Ministry with Center Christian Church in 1988 and Raleigh Christian Church in 1993. I served as Sr. High dean, dorm dad, teacher, speaker, volunteer, food service director, and now executive director for the next 35 years and counting in some
capacity. Jeremy and I reunited as a part of God’s big picture. The faces are different, but the sounds of Mahoning Valley Christian Service Camp summer 2022 are the soundtrack that echoes in my ears. Joyful shouts from the athletic fields echo across the lake, pool, and valley in the hot, muggy summer afternoons, and voices lifted in praise rolled from the Chapel windows at dusk. The billing smoke from the smoker full of mouthwatering pork shoulder hovered close to the ground, moving so slowly, filling the air with a tempting aroma that made mouths water for the famous Friday smoked pulled pork celebration last lunch of the week.
The sound most precious, though, was the words expressed from a child's mouth, “I believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God, and I accept and will follow Him as my Lord and Savior”! Fifty-one young people committed, were baptized, and began their journey with Jesus this summer.
Precious seeds were planted in the hearts of 738 campers as they heard the good news that Jesus is the Christ the Son of the Living God and all things can be accomplished through Him. Thank you again for letting us partner with you for the cause of the Kingdom. God bless each and every one of you for your continued prayers, volunteering, and financial support.
Who knows what God has in store for Jeremy and me for furthering the Kingdom of Jesus Christ at Mahoning Valley Christian Service Camp?