Well, another football season has started. For some of you, that means very little. For others, you feel like you are in heaven. Now days, you can watch football from Thursday night all the way through Monday night. For others, the start of football season is just an indicator that postseason baseball is about to begin, or that basketball season is quickly approaching.
Have you noticed how many fans are now wearing jerseys of their favorite teams and or players. I did a little research about sports apparel. On one website I looked at, it reported that over 60% of the people who responded to the survey spent over $100 in sports apparel the last year. Another web site stated that in 2016, $13,97 billion in sports merchandise. It is obvious that the team owners understand this as well. Take the NFL for example, in October they have uniforms with pink in them for breast cancer awareness. Now they do give a percentage to breast cancer, but they also know that is a way for them to sell more merchandise. It’s not good enough to have a regular Dallas Cowboys jersey, but I got to be like one of the players and have a Dallas Cowboys uniform with pink. There is something else I have noticed about attending sporting events. There is a lot of people that wear their team colors or uniforms to actual games.
It is amazing when you stop and think about how sports can connect people together. People from different socio-economic conditions, different political viewpoints are all celebrating for the same team. You can be somewhere with a particular jersey or hat on, and someone sees you and they start talking to you because they cheer for the same team.
As all of you know, we had our 15th annual All-Star Sports Camp this past July. It was an awesome experience like always. I will give more information later in the newsletter. As some of you remember, it seems like God has a lesson for me each year at sports camp as well. I think this year’s lesson was the power of connection. I want to share three ways I saw connection related to the camp this summer, and then share some Bible verses about connection.
The first connection lesson I had this year was with a few of our volunteers. In the neighborhood where we have hosted the sports camp the last few years, there is a church/ministry called the Lubbock Dream Center. They have been a location for people to sign up for camp, and they have tried to help promote the camp. On Saturdays they have a big outreach effort for people who need help with food, and clothing. They are always needing volunteers, and so when I can, I have gone and helped them out. It is great to help out, by putting together a bag of food, and blessing people as you give them the food. I have also been able to connect with other volunteers. One of them is Chadd, and he has a ministry where he works with men who have made some poor choices, but are trying to get back on the right track. He and all his guys, do landscaping work as well. Through building up a friendship with Chadd, I was able to get him, his family, and the guys he ministers to, come to camp each day and work with the sports. It was great to have the help. Chadd said his guys really enjoyed working with the kids, and even though they had to work landscaping after camp almost every day, they were excited to be there. Chadd and I connected at the Dream Center, and lives were touched because he and his guys connected with the children at camp.
The biggest way I learned connection is through a friend of mine, named Lela. I hadn’t talked to Lela in a couple of years. She texted me one day, asking me is I was still doing the camp. Of course I said yes, and she asked me what I needed. Of course my response is volunteers, and I also told her arts and crafts supplies. I didn’t hear from her for a few days, so I didn’t think much of it. She texted on a Friday to see if I could come to her place of employment, because someone was coming to make a donation. I said of course, and went out there not knowing what to expect. Little did I know that Lela had talked to our local NBC channel, KCBD. KCBD partners with a local business called West Tex Federal Credit Union, and they do a segment each week called “Pay it Forward”. Lela nominated our ministry for that, and the credit union came with three tubs full of arts and crafts supplies for us to use at sports camp. I was overwhelmed that day. We got a little publicity off of the segment as well. It was interesting to hear from the representatives of the credit union, and the reporter from KCBD to tell me that they had heard good things about the camp. So again, a friend had seen and heard about what happens at camp, and she was willing to help us connect to someone who could bless us with some supplies. It was also good to hear that people are hearing about the good things that happen at camp.
The last way I saw connection was at the actual sports camp. As the camp director, I don’t really get much of a chance to connect with the campers. I am normally running around like a chicken with its head cut off. This year was somewhat different. Like always, I was having to handle the daily challenges, but in the process I was able to connect with some of the campers. I saw that with other volunteers, I truly felt that this year there were more connections made from the volunteers with the children in their sports. One of the campers I connected with tried to get me to come to his house and have dinner with his family the last day of camp.
There is one more thing related to connection that I want to mention about our sports camp. The reason is one of the reasons I love sports camp. At our camp, we see volunteers from different backgrounds come together and work together. We have all three major races represented at our camps, and we had volunteers from about 30 different churches, ranging from Baptist to Methodist to Church of Christ, to name a few. And for the volunteers that have worked the camp for many years, we have become close, and in a way, like an extended family.
Connection in the Bible
In the Bible, connection brings power. The first way it brings power to us, is that we are connected to God. Colossians 1:18 says, “And he is the head of the body, the church. John 15:5 says, “I am the vine, you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing”. The verse from John makes it clear that if we are connected to Christ, we are not connected to the vine, we have no power and we are cut off from the things that will give us power and the ability to produce fruit. If we are cut off from the vine, then we are also cut off from the root system that provides stability and makes us rooted and then we can easily be blown away or trampled by others. Christ is the head of the church. So many believers are trying to live lives on their own terms or by their own power. If you are not connected to the head (Christ), then you are not much good. Imagine a body that for some reason has become brain dead. That body may have been talented, perhaps the hands could paint the most beautiful pictures, but now that the brain is not helping give instructions to the hands, and giving a visual for the hands to paint, the hands are now worthless. So it is with the church. If we are not connected to Christ, we are worthless.
Connection impacts our service and our witness to others. John 13:34-35 sys, “A new command I give you: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another”. John 17:23 says, “I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. In 1 Corinthians 12, Paul compares the church to the body, and says that just as the body has different parts that serve different functions, so it is with the church. Over the years of All-Star Sports Camp, I have found that to be very true. I am gifted at speaking and laying the vision for camp, and even coming up with motions for the songs we do in worship, but I would be a horrible dance teacher and teacher in arts and crafts. But there are others who are good in those areas, and when we all come together, great things happen. One last verse on being connected, that is Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. This verse talks about being connected not only brings power, but when you are connected you can help each other not only succeed, but can help each other with struggles.
If you haven’t experienced the power of connection in your life recently, go connect with God, and then connect with others as well.
All-Star Sports Camp
Our 15th annual All-Star Sports Camp was quite a success. There was a lot of work that went on before the camp to make it a success. This was the camp’s 4th year to be at OL Slaton Middle School. This year, we had just over 200 children who attended the camp at least one day, and our average attendance was around 160 each day. Since 2004, God has allowed us to work with just under 2,400 different children (that is counting children who come multiple years only 1 time). 138 (roughly 2/3) of the children had never attended sports camp before. We had 46 children and 2 volunteers who responded to the altar calls. We had 121 different families that attended sports camp.
Numbers can’t obviously tell the whole story of sports camp. So I will share some personal highlights. I am hoping in our year-end newsletter to share some personal stories from some of the volunteers or families impacted by camp. I want to share some about worship. For those who haven’t been at camp, we do a mix of “kid” songs, and some more contemporary Gospel and songs you can hear on Christian radio. We honestly had less songs that are playing on Christian radio than ever before. The first day of worship went pretty well, and each day it got better and better. I can’t begin to describe how awesome it is to see and hear the children truly worship God at camp. Many came in not knowing the songs before camp, and they left singing their hearts out. One of our youth volunteers had cousins who came to camp, and she said they kept singing the worship songs at home.
This year’s camp saw some interesting “trends”. The last few years, we had had a day care, and two churches who had summer camps attend our camp, so a large majority of children from camp was from one of those programs. Now I am happy to have any child at camp, but honestly didn’t feel we were doing enough outreach before camp. This year, myself, some of our volunteers, and even some of our campers walked selected neighborhoods on a weekly basis, handing out information. We didn’t track to see if anyone came to camp directly from those efforts, but we had more children being brought by their parents than we had the last couple of year. This year was also the 2nd year to have online registration for camp. We had over 80 children register online for camp. That was amazing, and it makes entering data so much easier. The only drawback is that over 20 people registered online the day before camp. I had already printed labels when most of those registration forms came in. Those children got a handmade nametag that day.
It was good to see our returning campers and get to connect with them and some of the new ones. One of our campers has an older sister who attended our first sports camp in 2004, and he attended camp this year. Like I mentioned earlier, a local daycare has been coming to camp for many years. The kids get so excited when I go by the daycare to drop off forms or pick up forms. I told them at camp that they made me feel special when I came by there. The next days, one of the boys from there came up to me at camp and said “you were wrong about us making you feel special, you are special”. That was very nice for him to say that, but in reality isn’t that how God sees each one of us? We are all special to Him. This boy was the same one who wanted me to come home and eat with him the last day of camp. The staff from the daycare told me he had been having some behavior problems, but the week of sports camp, he started acting better.
This year’s camp was also bittersweet in some areas. We have had 3 or 4 high school girls and I boy, who have invested a lot of time in our ministry over the last few years, and they will graduate in May, so there is a great chance they may not be at camp anymore. Their commitment has been a big help in the camp. Some of our other volunteers comes from the daycare, and she does not plan on being there next summer, so that means they more than likely won’t be at camp next summer. We will miss all of these volunteers, but I know God will provide people to fill their places. He is faithful and always provides what we need.
All-Star Sports Camp 2019
Some of you are probably surprised that we are already planning for next year’s camp. You would probably be more surprised to know that we begin talking and planning the next year, while we are preparing for the current year. I always try to come up with some possible themes, and then shortly after camp, we begin discussing the themes and come up with a couple that we feel would be good. This year, we began changing our volunteer orientations. We normally offer at least 4 each summer, and in the past we have had to watch the same video about child safety training and child abuse. I realized many people did not enjoy this, so this year, we offered our volunteers a chance to do that portion of the orientation online. We are now going to try to make all of our pre-camp training available online. We will have 1 or 2 live orientations for new volunteers and will offer assistance to volunteers who may not have access or desire to do training online. This will make it easier on me, and will give our team the ability to spend some of our Saturdays promoting the camp, instead of being at several trainings.
There is not a clear indication when and where camp will be next year. We have been at OL Slaton now for four years. To be honest, they tried to back out earlier this year, but it was worked out for us to be there since we had already started promoting camp. My contact at Lubbock ISD said we really should rotate locations every couple of years, so that we don’t become a burden to a particular campus. We have 2 or 3 locations we are looking at, 1 is in North Lubbock, and the other 2 are in Central Lubbock. We have not been able to decide on dates either. It is hard for the school district to know this early what will be available and when. We are either looking at the week of July 15th or July 22nd.
The one thing we feel certain about is our theme for next year. One of the themes I had thought about is “I Am”, and we could focus on some of the I am statements of Jesus and other declarations that God made about Himself in the Bible. When our leadership team met, they liked the theme, but we decided it would be awesome if we focused on I am (who we are) because of God, and let our puppet ministry teach on the I am characteristics of God. We haven’t chosen our theme verse or daily themes and verses yet, but will do that very soon. It is exciting to begin seeing how awesome this theme can be. What if we all were more aware of how God sees us and what He says about us. There are so many possible worship songs to go along with this theme as well. We have also discussed a powerful visual demonstration for worship one day.
What is next?
One of the challenges we have always had is the ability to follow up after camp, and to help
The children learn about God and the Christian faith more. The biggest challenge is that we all are
so busy with our own families and lives, that we have a hard time fitting something into our
I am guilty of this as well. It is important to have time for ourselves and our families, but I also feel it is negligent not to find a way to maintain contact with some of the children from camp. It would be a big challenge to follow up with all of them. Again I don’t know the format it will take. Maybe it is some type of newsletter that can be done through parents’ email, or regular visits from some of the volunteers with the families from camp, or maybe it is meeting once a month to help these children learn more about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, the Bible, and Christian living, so that they can be “rooted” in the faith. I know we have to start somewhere and do something. Please be in prayer for us as we seek to establish this. I am hoping to have something in place that we can start in January. If you are in Lubbock, and would like to help with this, please let me know this as well.
Living Abundantly Ministries Year-End Fundraisers
We have some different fundraisers going on as we approach the end of 2018. If you are doing Christmas shopping, or decorating for the holidays, we have some opportunities for you. You may shop these different opportunities, and your purchases will be sent directly to you, and a percentage of your purchase will go to Living Abundantly Ministries.
FlipGive. FlipGive is an “online” shopping mall. There are many different stores and restaurants. These include Nike, JC Penneys, Target, and Wal-Mart. Each business gives back a different percentage back to us. Here is the link to our FlipGive fundraiser https://www.flipgive.com/teams/43796-living-abundantly-ministries
Great American Store. This site allows you to purchase items from magazines to tumblers, to Christmas decorations and items. I think we get 40% from the purchases made on this web site. Here is the link. www.gaschoolstore.com our organization id is: 5136346. When it asks for student id, just click skip this step.
Mixedbagdesigns.com This site has a variety of items to choose from: bags, phone cases, kitchen items, wrapping papers, and tumblers. Here is the link: http://www.mixedbagdesigns.com/Retail-Shop-All. On the right it says, Select a Fundraiser to Support. Click there, and then enter 749298
Minted.com. This site has stationery, Christmas Cards, Decorations, and other items. Go to minted.com. Select the products you wish to purchase and proceed to check out. When it gives you an opportunity to enter a promotional code, please enter: FUNDRAISELAM
Amazon.com If you purchase anything from Amazon, you can support us as well. Go to the following webpage. smile.amazon.com/ch/75-3153403 This is an ongoing opportunity for the ministry.
Recognizing Those who Made All-Star Sports Camp 2018 a Success
It takes a lot of people to give their resources, time, or both to make each sports camp a success. We would like to acknowledge the following who made this year’s camp a success. If we left anyone off the list, we apologize.
Aldersgate Church, Allard Inc. (Mike Bean), Asbury UMC, Ella Ashley, Nathan Ashley, Eddie Avery, Luther & Janie Bailey, Joyce Bartlett, Greg Bassinger, Betenbough Homes, Shorty & Glenna Bilberry, Tess Bliss, Tony Bliss, Richard Bulson, Donajean Caffey, Abbie Calderon, Ken & Debbie Campbell, Unise Cardenas, Ricardo Chavez, Jeremiah Christopher, Brent Coffey, Karlee Combest, Camari Conner, Kazaria Conner, Kazayia Conner, Cameron Cooks, Lyndi Criswell, Linda Davis, Cheyeanne DelosSantos, Monea Embers, Lee & Cynthia Eulenbach, Brandi Everett, Cadon Everett, Chadd Everett, Keagon Everett, Kolton Everett, Reagon Everett, Angel Ewings-Rodriguez, Lupita Felan, First Bank & Trust, Alexis Flores, Anita Flores, Jon & Marcia Furbee, Madison Gilmore, Thomas Golden, Hank & Gwen Greer, Genye Guinn, Marquis Guinn, Dave Hagberg, Ava Hannon, Don & Sue Hargis, Ricky Hartline, Maria Hernandez, Sandra Hernandez, Sindy High, Linda Hiracheta, Christopher Hopper, Gary Horton, Keyondra Horton, Ola Horton, Cash Howard, Bob Hunsucker, Breck Hunsucker, Terry & Sheri Hurst, David Jackson, Jimmy Johns, Destiny Jones, Gabriella Kirkwood, Sharon Kirkwood, Cade Landrum, Milton Lee, James Lewis, Kamri Lindley, Lubbock Dream Center, Al Manny, Nancy Manny, Aramis Manriquez, Erma Manriquez, Ethan Manriquez, Jocelyn Mares, Jim McCurin, Craig & Ann McDonald, Kevin McGaha, Mackenzie McGarry, Jeremiah Medina, Danny Milburn, Bo & Helen Minnis, Jacob Moncrief, Mark Monette, Esther Moses, E.V. & Jeanie Murphy, New Millennium Baptist Church, Laura Offffutt, Savannah Pannell, Dawn Parr, Roberta Patterson, Jazala Perry, Steven Pierce, Kraig & Connie Pitman, Noah Posada, Kenneth Powell, Hunter Preston, Jasmine Puente, Nathan Puente, Gracie Ramos, Tom Rask, Scott Robertson, Emmanuel Rosa, Mark & Esther Saldavar, Gleen Samuels, Bobby Sanders, Ronald Sanders, Rick Smith, Eddie Sosa, Terica Starkes, Judy Smyer, Emily Thompson, Hollie Thornburg, Nathan Ursua, Brea Varnell, Gabirela Vasquez, Jaclyn Vasquez, Bill Waller, Colleen Waller, Melanie Whiting, Karin Whitten, Mark & Suzette Williams, David Wilson, Fred Wilson, Tabatha Wilson, Luke Womble, Roger Wolcott, Wound Care Center, Bill & Karen Wrench, Jamardrick York, Daniel Young, Natalia Young