A Word from the Jonah Ministries Board of Directors
"In oceans deep my faith will stand."
It's early Monday morning, after a full weekend of Annual Meetings for the Jonah Ministries Board of Directors. This year all ten board members were at a beach house in Rockaway. The weather was stormy and powerful. The company was uplifting, prayerful, united, visionary, one-minded, thoughtful, hard-working, fun and dedicated. God, Our Camp Director, was all-present. We are closing up year nineteen at Jonah Ministries with a solid business model, super strong board buy-in, and great belief in our strong God. Our agenda included, as always, hard Several Board Members discussion and many hours of business. We spent about twelve hours spread over three days circled up in a beach house living room seeking God and making decisions. This group shoulders a big load and cares deeply about 2016 and beyond. So we went to God often as we watched the ocean waves crash huge and powerful. We heard torrential rains against the roof and windows, and experienced the bigness of our Father. I saw a break in the weather early on Saturday morning, so I quickly went for a brisk walk on the beach. It was me and Jesus and the ocean. I prayed in silence, overwhelmed by the bigness of God. The worship song "Oceans" has been my mantra this year. I played it on my iPhone and listened deeply as the waves lapped at my feet:
You call me out upon the waters, the great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find you in the mystery, in oceans deep
My faith will stand
And I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise, my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Your grace abounds in deepest water, Your Sovereign hand will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and you won't start now
So I will call upon Your name, and keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise my soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine
Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior
Oh, Jesus, You're my God!
As these lyrics played beautifully on a vacant Jeff praying, "Your
will be done..." beach with just me and Jesus, I was reminded of my prayer more than a year ago, "Please fill me with Your Holy Spirit." My breath prayer began to be "Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders." And Father God takes my hand and my heart and walks me deeper with Him, and my faith becomes stronger in the presence of my Savior. It is a wonderful thing to know Jesus. It is even more amazing to be in a vibrant, growing relationship with Him. When oceans rise, I rest in His embrace. And this is the depth of our Board of Directors at Jonah Ministries. Each person is committed to walking the great unknown of the future of our camp-with faith and relationship and hope in the One whose sovereign hand will be our Guide. Each year we prepare in-depth for our Annual Meeting and we always come away as one voice and one mind trusting one Savior. Jonah Ministries has never been in a stronger place. We have huge financial struggles, big dreams and goals, and unending to-do lists, and we are moving into year twenty with marching orders and strength from our Heavenly Father Listen to the "Oceans (Where Feet May Fall)" by Hillsong United here.
Big thanks to our Board Members: Mark & Sherri Zoller, Keith & Marnie Robison, Dev & Laurie Bell, Dave & Julie Vawser, and Jeff and Beki Duke
If you read my Facebook post earlier in the week, you would’ve sensed my excitement at the way our busy season is starting off this year. I love my job and I love the people I get to meet. I love that so many say “yes” and that we get to have fun while sharing the message of Jesus. But it is tiring.
Last night I trudged the 130 feet to our home next door. It felt like a mile. As I opened the door I greatly enjoyed the guilty pleasure of the air conditioning—and the stark quietness, in contrast with the noise and busyness of camp. I sat down in the recliner at 8:35 pm. At 8:40 my phone rang:
“There’s been an accident. The leader of the camp is hurt and they are taking her to the hospital.” I threw my shoes back on, tried to straighten my tired body, and began praying. I took the 130 steps much quicker this time. Within minutes, 911 was called, an ambulance was here, and a decision was made to air-lift our 30-year-old friend to a head/neck trauma unit in Portland.
As I went through the motions of background support and much prayer, my mind was tortured with the memory of exactly two years and three days ago when Thomas Wilson sustained a broken neck injury just down the street from here and now spends his days in a wheelchair.
By 11:00 pm, the fantastic news came, “She’s going to be okay.” That’s when I allowed the tears to come. And then I began to sort through the extreme high and low emotions of just a few days this week. I’m so grateful that God is our Camp Director, that He is in control, that He is good.
The alarm came early this morning, but that was okay because I really didn’t sleep much anyway. I walked next door to check on the cook in the kitchen, make the morning coffee, greet the early risers and get a read on the day ahead. All was normal, well, on schedule. Then I forced myself to take my morning walk, played a sermon on my iPhone, and began to notice the beauty around me, the glory of the Lord in full bloom! I was deeply challenged to not let the evil one creep into any part of my day, my week, my summer, my life.
Our friend is still in the hospital, camp is running smoothly, I smell dinner wafting from the kitchen, and I practice trusting the One who is in charge of every detail of my life. I’m a very blessed woman indeed.
Easter has come and gone on the calendar. I didn’t give up anything for Lent or serve a ham dinner on Sunday. I did mail “Peeps” to my grandkids and I even went to an egg hunt with a few grands. But, in hindsight, I think what Jeff and I did on the week prior to Easter is exactly what Jesus would have done: we helped three different people move. This is not glamorous or noteworthy for sure, but two of these were widows in their 60’s and certainly could not have moved on their own.
On Saturday, it ended up that we not only needed to help one neighbor just down the street pack her U-Haul, but also, at the last-minute, put overflow items in our pickup and cargo trailer, and make a day-before-Easter, unscheduled-round-trip to Astoria. I was not excited. By then we were pretty worn out. I even kinda tried backing out of the trip. My guilt quickly got the best of me, though, and I joined my helpful husband on this drive.
As Jeff and I were chatting on the drive there and back, we realized that this was probably just what Jesus would have done—and that He had conveniently cleared our calendar ahead of time. Sometimes being the hands and feet of Jesus to our neighbors, and “sacrificing” a Saturday, is just how Jesus would like us to celebrate his ultimate, life-bringing, world-changing sacrifice.
May I never doubt that when God leads, He will provide. If you EVER hear me express doubt in what God can do, would you please remind me to look back at the purchase of the Jacobson Property? God is BIGGER than I ever imagined. As the total needed to finish paying off the house dwindles, my faith in God expands in a mighty way. When I opened the mail yesterday, I was blessed by a check for $10. When I opened my email, I was blessed by a pledge from a young missionary family for $100 per month until it’s paid off. When I returned a phone call this morning, I was told a gift of $3,600 was being mailed today. Yes, tears were involved.
I reluctantly admit that about three weeks ago I was filled with serious fear and doubt. At the time we had raised about $120,000, but still needed another $65,000. It seemed too much, too hard, too scary, too presumptuous, too stupid. I pulled Jeff aside and asked him quite seriously, “Are you SURE this is what we’re supposed to be doing? Are you sure this is God’s will? Are you sure we’re supposed to continue on in this journey? He patiently answered me with a loving, yet solid “YES”!
As he left the room, I think he thought I was convinced. I even thought I should be convinced, but it was still too big and too much.
I sat down and had a heart-to-heart with God. “Father,” I prayed, “I just need a sign. I feel funny asking, but I really need to hear confirmation from You. Please.” In less than an hour, He answered. When I opened the mail, checks totaling $11,100 were piled on my desk! Two of those checks were for $5,000—each from people who had told Jeff they wouldn’t be able to give this time!
I felt deeply loved by my Father, and a tiny bit chastised. Why should I have ever doubted? God led us down this path. He is our Camp Director. He is in charge. All the details of this purchase are His problem, not ours. I quickly said a prayer of thanks and apology.
Now all glory to God, who is able, through his mighty power at work within us,
to accomplish infinitely more than we might ask or think.
Ephesians 3:20 NLT
Today, the balance still needed has been shaved to $23,677. In just ten weeks, God has provided $161,923 in gifts and pledges, and a no-interest loan to cover the balance while we continue to fundraise! The new Program House belongs to Jonah Ministries!
I am overwhelmed. May I never, ever, ever be doubtful or underwhelmed again. May the amazement of this faith journey flow out of our doors to touch others and bring them to the point of dreaming big dreams with our Father who has the overwhelming capacity to guide and provide.
We like to say that Jonah Ministries is a place “Where Kids Laugh, Hearts Change, and God Smiles.” My heart has certainly changed and I know God is smiling.
On the evening of Saturday, February 28th, I dropped into bed bone-tired and heart-happy. It’s been a long time since this farm girl turned camp co-founder has had the pleasure of a day completely full of physical labor, mixed with a myriad of good things. I spent the day ripping out carpets, pulling staples, sweeping, painting a pantry, and feeding pancakes, candy, and corn dogs to eight grandchildren.
As I worked, I would periodically find my throat tight and my eyes moist with tears of unbelief and awe, at the beauty out the windows of our new Program House and the wonder that we now actually own this home. How could it be that our tiny, poor camp has been able to purchase two homes in two years (almost to the date)? I’ve always shied away from the term “lucky” in favor of “blessed,” but I feel somehow a mixture of these two adjectives. Words just cannot adequately express the depth of my gratitude for what God has done, and the favor I feel at being included in yet another faith-enhancing miracle here at my favorite camp.
In the Bible, when Jonah finally followed God wholeheartedly, his obedience was instrumental in a whole people group choosing Jesus. May that be the story of Camp Jonah. May we keep telling these “Glory Stories” and may kids of all ages be drawn to the God that keeps acquiring and inhabiting properties along Little Mountain Road in Trout Lake, Washington!
When I opened our shades this morning, and saw our new property, tears of joy immediately filled my eyes. This is too big for a little camp to do, but not too big for our God! Once again God leaves us amazed, incredulous, speechless, joyful and full of wonder!
Yesterday we bought a house right next door to our camp. Our Program Director, Micah Anderson, and his wife and four little girls (who will be moving into the house soon) have watched with great anticipation and excitement the way that God provides. This humble addition to God’s grand plan leaves us amazed, once again.
In late fall, the Jacobson Property was put on the market, and in December, our Board began to pray, “Lord, show us how to purchase this property.” We did nothing more because it was too far-fetched and certainly out of our reach. But God’s arm is not too short! On January 9th, we met with a couple who generously offered to give $60,000 toward the purchase of the Jacobson Property! Our response was unbelief, then joy, then dancing! Another couple offered to pay the $18,600 in earnest money! And another friend offered a no-interest, six-month loan of up to $75,000 to help us as we gather pledges! Five weeks, a pile of paperwork, and $141,813 later, thirty-four families have stepped forward to help with this purchase. The only explanation as to how this could happen is a series of MIRACLES!
Here’s how God works:
31 Little Mountain Road (Main Campus/Building) - purchased privately in 1996. Donated to JM in 2012!
33 Little Mountain Road (Bus Barn/Camp Store) – purchased in February of 2012!
35 Little Mountain Road (Taylor Property/Duke’s home) – purchased in March of 2013!
37 Little Mountain Road (Jacobson Property/Anderson home) – purchased YESTERDAY (February 2015)!
After a prayer time, recently, Jeff said, “If nothing else, this is happening to increase our faith.” If God can provide the majority of the funds in five weeks, He can bring in the balance of $43,787 in the next six months!*
“There’s NOTHING our God cannot do!"
Please plan to join us for our Open House on Saturday May 23rd
*If you would like to contribute to this purchase please call Jeff at
(office) 509-395-2900 or (mobile) 541-490-3055. Gifts can be given online, by phone, mail, check, brokerage gift, etc. Six-month pledges are also gladly accepted.