As I begin working on this newsletter, it is the 1st of June. Some may ask, why is that date significant? Well, on June 1, 2004 Living Abundantly Ministries officially launched. I don’t always make a big-to-do about this date. But I guess with all the current affairs, I decided to take some time today and reflect on the last 16 years. I have to say officially launched, because to be honest, God began the work many years before that. My mother often told me that when I was younger that I would take my Gideon’s Bible and preach to my GI Joe toys. I must have been trying to bring salvation to the bad guys. I don’t remember preaching to them, but I know I spent a lot of time playing with them; hours upon hours. Even before I was on earth, God began working. My mother’s parents were devoted Christians who live in the Panhandle of Texas. They never told me, but I can imagine both of them spending time in prayer, praying for their children and their grandchildren. I can see them praying that we would become a Christian, and that we would allow God to use us in the advancement of His kingdom. I have tried to keep the legacy that they gave to my Mother and that she passed on to me. Another event that God used was when I was in 4th grade. My sister had attended Lubbock Christian High for a few years and had graduated the year before. The public school I attended didn’t satisfy my parents, so they decided to send me to Lubbock Christian. I went there for 4 years as a student, and have now completed my ninth year as a parent, and sixth year as a substitute teacher. It was there at Lubbock Christian, that in elementary God became real and meaningful to me. Through the years, as a student God used many of the teachers and coaches to build me and strengthen me in the faith. It was at this time, that I grew to love the Word of God, and I spoke in chapel on several occasions during high school. Another event was that when I was in 3rd grade, I attempted to play little league baseball. I wasn’t great, but my family connected with another family on my team, the Reeds. That family was devoted to the Lord, and God knitted us together through the years, we are like family. I can remember the mother, Stephanie, one day when I was with them, just speaking the words that she could visualize God using me to minister to people from different backgrounds. There were other events that God used in my life to prepare for the beginning of a faith adventure that started 16 years ago.
One thing that I have always tried to do over the last 16 years, is to be a blessing to those that God has brought into my life and into the ministry. Some of those people were there for a season, and quite a few have been involved in the ministry for many years. I have to be honest that God has used many of these people to bless me more than I have blessed them. The majority of the people that have been involved in the ministry have not been White. God allowed me the opportunity to be able to reach across lines of difference to build strong relationships with these people. Many of these people have become like family to me and my family over the years. The very first church I connected with was First Progressive Baptist Church. The pastor then was Homer Avery. Pastor Avery and the church welcomed me even before I started the ministry. Pastor Avery was brave enough to let me preach my first sermon one Sunday. He treated me like I was not only one of his pastors, but like I was a member of his family. God allowed me to worship at many different churches, and allowed me to preach at a few others. The main two churches have been Rising Star Baptist and New Millennium Baptist Church.
As I also look back over the last 16 years, I am reminded of the many lessons that God has taught me over the years. If I were to mention them, it would take way too long. One of the things that God has taught me many times over and over is that He is My Provider. When I started the ministry, I really didn’t know what I would be doing. I remember a friend telling me about a Christian sports camp coming to East Lubbock in July. I met the local guy in charge, and decided to help him out. His job kept him from being fully involved, so I became in charge of the local aspect of the 1st All-Star Sports Camp. That first sports camp was an awesome event. Some of those involved in the first ever camp, have been involved in the camp for many years. It was at that first sports camp that I led someone in asking Jesus to be their savior. God has provided the right people we have needed and has provided finances and resources that the ministry has needed.
One of the other main lessons that God has shown me is that He goes before us and if we follow Him and seek Him, we will see His mighty work at hand. This year has been an example of that. As some of you know, God has blessed me with a “core group” of a few others who have met, prayed, and planned together for many years for each sports camp. To be honest, there has been many times, where when we are setting up the first day of camp, we are already discussing how we can improve next year’s camp. Last fall was no different. At one of our meetings, I bring a few possible themes to the group, and we begin discussing the theme for next year. Last fall, we decided that the theme for All-Star Sports Camp 2020 would be PRESS On. For our theme verse, we chose Philippians 3:14 which says, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” We have had a couple of zoom meetings regarding the All-Star Sports Camp. As you will read later, ASSC 2020 is happening, but in a very different format. At our last zoom meeting, we discussed if we needed to change themes, and we all felt that the theme God had given us in the fall is more needed now than before.
Like some of you, these last two plus months have been a challenge to live through. For some of us, we never imagined sports not happening, but in a few hours the NBA stopped playing and March Madness was cancelled. We then heard about toilet paper shortages, and learned new terms such as social distancing. If we are all honest, we all felt a degree of fear and apprehension. It seemed like overnight our lives had changed. Some were confused and didn’t understand where God was in all of this. Let me tell you, He was and still is on His throne. God is still God. The God I serve cannot be stopped by any virus or any other power. The gates of hell cannot prevail against the Kingdom of God. I feel God is saying to the Church, Press on. Don’t live in fear, still boldly profess His love and power. Yes, some of the ways of sharing the Gospel may have changed, but the call for us to share the Gospel has not been cancelled. For God’s purposes we cannot be distracted. Jayda started track this year, and had 2 meets before the pandemic stopped the season. One of her events was 4X100 relay. I noticed in one of her races, as she ran, she kept looking at those around her, and not on the finish line. I told her when she focused on what was around her, she slowed down and didn’t run as effective. Don’t let everything going on in life distract you from receiving the prize for which God has called you. Press on, and as you do, make an impact and help someone else press on as well.
All-Star Sports Camp
When the pandemic started, I can remember wondering how the All-Star Sports Camp would be impacted. Tony, my logistics specialist at camp and I texted and decided we could wait awhile before making a final decision about camp. As the pandemic increased, I knew in my heart that All-Star Sports Camp 2020 was in danger.
We scheduled a zoom meeting in April to see how some of the other members of the core group felt. I knew, before we had the meeting, that we would not be able to host the All-Star Sports Camp this year. To me, the zoom meeting was just a formality. As I prepared for that meeting an idea popped into my head. The idea was to do a virtual sports camp. So at the zoom meeting, I proposed the idea and no one seemed to object. Since I had been leading the camp since its inception in 2004, it just seemed hard not to do something.
We had another zoom meeting in May, and decided to go ahead and do a virtual sports camp. There are some disadvantages to a virtual sports camp. First, it does not allow us to interact in person with the campers, and to build relationships with them. Another big disadvantage is that if you do not have access to a computer, smart phone, or access to your own sports equipment, it is hard for you to participate at camp. Another disadvantage is that many of our volunteers, who are passionate about our camp, won’t be as involved. In some ways, it is good to have a break, but I know they will be lost the week of the actual camp.
There are some positives to the virtual camp. The main one I see is that any child in any city can watch the videos and participate. By doing the camp virtually, a camper can be in more than one activity. We have always struggled with the sports having a wide arrange of ages and skill levels. You hope that what you plan can be fun and beneficial to all that participate. So doing a virtual camp, will allow us to have different drills and activities for different ages and/or skill levels. The main advantage is that the sports camp is still going on. As our theme for this year reminds us, we are Pressing on.
So here is the plan for the camp. We are hoping to have some of our dedicated volunteers to make videos that we can use to promote the camp or to be used the week of camp (welcome to camp, daily themes). All the activities will have videos shot showing them specific drills they can do to enhance their skill level. The hope for cheer and dance is that the teachers will be able to teach the participants a routine through the week’s videos. For arts and crafts, we will purchase craft kits, and each day’s video will be making one of the crafts. We still have to figure out an effective way to get the kits to the participants. We will also have short worship videos, including a speaker, our puppets (Grandma Sophia for sure), and a few worship songs. Jayda and I will edit the videos and make sure the quality is good. The week of the camp (July 20-24), I will upload the videos each day.
Please be in prayer for this year’s camp. I have said in some ways, I feel like a spiritual pioneer. It is not a small task to video a church sermon and worship time, but it is easier than we are attempting. There will be several videos that will need to be done and prepared for use. I am having to learn video editing, and I hope to teach Jayda the basics. Then there is always that thought that the technology won’t work the way we plan on. I am sure we will probably do some “testing” of the technology before the week of the camp.
Like many churches and ministries, we have had to change the way we function over the last 10 weeks. It may be different, but the need to get the Gospel message never ends.
Here is what we have done to take advantage of social media. For a few weeks, I did a teaching time on Sunday morning and the teachings are on Facebook as well as YouTube and our web page. I haven’t done a teaching in a few weeks, but we will start next Tuesday, June 9th at 8:00 pm Central with a weekly lesson.
The other thing that we have started is called “Bible Lessons with Mr. C”. We normally do the lessons Sunday nights at 8:00 pm Central time. I think we have done ten videos so far. We started with the “Hall of Fame of Christianity” based on Hebrews 11. We normally take one of the stories mentioned in Hebrews 11, and discuss why that story is important. We also created a separate Facebook page for Bible Lessons with Mr. C. That way, if you want to watch previous videos, they are easy to find, and you don’t have to scroll through other social media posts to find them. In a short period of time, we have already had over 100 people like the page. If you know of a child who might enjoy the videos, please tell them about it. I plan on keeping the Bible Lessons going through the summer and when school starts back up.
One of the things that have always been a challenge over the last few years is the need for some type of follow up effort after sports camp. I know it has needed to happen, but has been a challenge with our volunteers involved in other areas, and even myself being the father of a junior high student and working multiple jobs. My recent experiences using social media has “revived” my desire in doing a follow up program. I hope to be able to devote some time and energy this summer in exploring the possibilities of doing follow up through social media.
A New Look to our web page & Social Media Presence
After a lengthy delay (mainly my fault), our webpage received a new look. You should check it out: www.livingabundnatlytx.com. I like the new look. If you receive this newsletter through the mail, but would like to have it over email, you can subscribe to our newsletter on our home page as well.
Some of you are aware that we have a YouTube channel under Living Abundantly Ministries. We also have Facebook pages for Living Abundantly Ministries, All-Star Sports Camp, and Bible Lessons with Mr. C. So if you want to like or follow all or any of them, please feel free.
Regular Daily Devotions
With a more relaxed schedule the last couple of months, I have been able to be devoted to writing a daily devotional at least 4 days a week. I normally post these on Facebook. There are a few people who are receiving the devotions over email. If you would like to be added to the email list, please let me know, and I will be glad to add you. You can call me at 806-369-8983 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org !
Ways to Support Living Abundantly Ministries Online
I wanted to remind everyone of the online ways you can support Living Abundantly Ministries:
Flipgive. Flipgive is an “online” shopping mall. There are many different stores and restaurants. These include Nike, JC Penney’s, Target, and Wal-Mart. Each business gives back a different percentage. Here is the link to our Flipgive fundraiser https://www.flipgive.com/teams/43796-living-abundantly-ministries
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.
Sowing a Seed
I have been so humbled by those who have invested either financially or through volunteering over the last 16 years. God has blessed your efforts and have used your seeds in many ways
It is hard for me to share this, but the ministry is in need of those who can financially sow into the ministry. For many years, we worked concessions at Texas Tech, which was a financial blessing. But when, Texas Tech started selling alcohol, it made it a challenge to keep working those events, and we no longer work them. Also, we normally have a golf tournament in the spring to help raise funds, but we had not had one scheduled for this spring (it would have been cancelled) and I doubt we will be able to host one in the fall. We have ongoing costs such as my salary, web page, and insurance costs that still have to be met regardless if we have a big event or not. One of our biggest costs each year is the All-Star Sports Camp. We will not obviously be spending as much as normal for this year’s camp, but there will still be some expenses involved. One of the costs is enhancing our technology to adequately make the camp videos high quality. We will also have to buy arts and craft supplies, and I am sure they may be a few more things we need to prepare for. Like always, you can sponsor the camp at $25 per child. Like I said earlier, God has blessed us financially, so we are not in desperate need of financial seeds, but there is a need none the less. If you feel led to give, you can give on our webpage: www.livingabundantlytx.com. You can also mail your donation to: Living Abundantly Ministries * P.O. Box 16491* Lubbock, TX 79490.