Teens Serve Others During UM Army Christmas Camp
Goodbye Christmas cookies, hello Army food? In this case, Army food was home cooked meals provided by church members and area residents, but the recent UM Army Christmas Camp still amounted to a week spent away from most of the comforts of home.
As each year concludes and a new one begins, young ‘soldiers in the Lord’s army’ voluntarily sacrifice a week of their vacation to join the UM Army Christmas Camp. This ministry allows youth and young adults to serve people in need, while providing young people with an opportunity to mature in their faith-walk and life skills through Christian service. Between December 29 – January 4, over 110 adults, college, and high school students ascended on First UMC Crockett to work on homes and live out the UM Army mission: to provide Christ-centered, quality youth work camps that serve people in need and promote spiritual growth and leadership development in youth.
Through the building of wheelchair ramps, porches, steps, and handrails, painting homes, cleaning houses, and yardwork, this army reaches out to be modern day missionaries throughout the community. This work, along with daily devotions and evening worship, provides a unique opportunity for Christian growth and leadership development.
“Ours is the third poorest county in the state,” notes host church pastor, Rev. Patrick Evans. “Our members jumped in to provide meals for our guests, and the community welcomed them with open arms.” He excitedly reports that the local radio station took call-in requests for home repairs, the lumber store donated wood, the local schools provided shower facilities, and local businesses contributed finances to make the week extra productive.
Camp Director Henry Pruitt reports that the teams completed work at 25 sites. “We always have morning worship before breakfast and invite clients to lunch and devotion time,” he adds, “but the most moving experience is usually Client Night when they come to the church and share about how much this means to them.”
Rev. Michelle Hall, Associate Director of TAC Center for Clergy Excellence spent a few fulfilling hours with this year’s group, sharing about the College Pastoral Intern Program (CPIP) and the Texas Youth Academy. “We had dinner and amazing fellowship and worship together,” she says, “which was a great reminder of the importance of connecting and collaborating. I loved sharing spiritual formation opportunities with this young group as they give of themselves so selflessly and explore their vocation and call in a most faithful way!”
“UM Army is always a life-changing experience,” adds Rev. Thera Freeman, Director of Youth/Young Adult Ministries for TAC Center for Congregational Excellence. Repairs are made, God’s love is revealed and lives are changed in the process.”
Rev. Evans adds, “Our members are energized in seeing this many folks give up a week of their family time to serve others. The experience sparked a conversation this week, in fact, about how we can start preparing meals to feed hungry residents in our area – because our members can cook and they enjoy doing that!”
One of the week’s heart warming stories involved a young man, who’s family has been benefitting from a UM Army wheel chair ramp. He heard UM Army youth were coming to town and joined the work crew during winter camp to build a ramp at First UMC Crockett. “It is great to see him giving back. I think we will try to provide him a scholarship to attend a UM Army camp somewhere this summer so he can have the week-long, sleep-on-the-floor and bond-in-new-ways experience,” adds Patrick.
College camp and summer UM Army dates for 2014:
· College Camp one year out of high school May 18-24
· Summer Camp completed 8th grade Every week from June 9-Aug 3