Tuesday, May 12, 2009

This morning came pretty early for the boys and I. Jess is on the final phase of her recovery from a nasty virus that is going around the school she teaches Art Appreciation at, so i have done my best to stay on Daddy duty and keep them quarantined from the house. So i got the boys up about an hour earlier than normal so we could head off to Barefoot Republic for a day of research.

On the way we picked two friends from Grassland Heights Church. Duane and Fred. Duane is going to be the games master for the camp in June and Fred is a professional videographer that is creating commercials for the event. Both are good men, that love Jesus, their families, and students. So off we went to Barefoot.

I have briefly discussed Barefoot in previous blogs, but i want to give you the background of how it came about, and why i am so excited about their new (and ever growing) facilities and staff. Admittedly, this is to the best of my knowledge, so there may be some very important holes in the discussion, but it is still worth starting.

Tommy Rhodes is the visionary and director of www.barefootrepublic.org. Approximately 10+ years ago Tommy was a Vandy grad doing Bio Chem work for a pharmaceuticals company. However, he had a nagging urge that the Lord had something more for him. Mostly because Tommy's life was amazingly effected by camp and he could not shake his love for it. So he and a buddy began the process of creating their own camp. In time, they came up with the name Barefoot Republic (there is a cool story behind this, but i can't remember it so i won't try to make it up). And Barefoot was born. They began their camps with the premise that if they could bring students from many different backgrounds (racial, denominational, monetary) to camp together, and then focus on Jesus for a solid period of time, all sorts of Godly transformations would occur. Little did he know how right he was. So Barefoot took off on the campus of Cumberland University. About 2 years into this process, Tommy and his buddy came across the land that Barefoot now sits on, and with the help of some family members snatched it up. Hoping to some day have their own campus for Barefoot. Since then they have slowly been building the ministry and prepping to start building their facilities. Which catches us up to this summer. This year there will be 6 actual Barefoot weeks of camp, and a bunch of other camps for specific churches filled in at other times. I have the honor to serve at 2, one in June for Grassland Heights Church, and the one in July for Barefoot. This will be their inaugural year of camps on their 85 acre campus, thus far they have 2 tree houses that can serve up do 130 students easily, basketball courts, outdoor skate park, outdoor amphitheater, low ropes, large soccer fields, 9 holes of disc golf, a great full functioning restaurant kitchen, + more, and tons more to go. What is amazing about Barefoot is not its facilities, in the end they are just tools. Well made, designed and completely out of the box tools. What makes Barefoot is Tommy's heart for the Kingdom. I listen to Tommy discuss all that the Lord has given him for a vision for this camp, and i realize that Tommy "DOES NOT" think he owns this thing. Nope in every way it is the Lord's, so he is calm in the storm and the sunshine, excited by teamwork and help, and can't wait to see what the Lord does in the lives of the students. I have 2 projects that Tommy has allowed me to be a part of in this process of developing the grounds. One is the 9 hole disc golf course on site and the other is the durable, basketball goals for the ball courts. The Lord is doing some really cool stuff in the midst of both and i can't wait to see how it all turns out.

If you get a chance to check out the website, and the Lord leads you to connect with Barefoot, let me know i would be glad to help you connect on whatever level. Obviously i have been moved enough to jump right in. But admittedly, i love the Kingdom, and really enjoy camp, so it has not been tough.

The day ended with a make up soccer game with our 3/4 team at Christ Church. We have 9 wonderful little ones on the team: Justus, Elijah, Paul, Caleb, Kennedy, Lily, Joshua, Taylor, and Dillon. Admittedly, i know nothing about soccer, seriously nothing. But i do know teamwork, and i can't say enough about our little ones and their families. This year has been a true joy to watch moms and dads on the field with their kids getting after in during practice. Seriously, its been quite crazy to think how connected the Lord continues to make us to Nashville in the midst of knowing that at any moment i could face the reality that we must move to go somewhere the Lord has us to serve.

Which reminds me. There are 4 opportunities that face our family right now. Which all happened to follow up with me yesterday with conversations. The first and most likely to at least ask me to be part of their staff is a church in Birmingham called Valleydale. Admittedly, this would be a wonderful church to serve as Sr High Youth Pastor, and has a huge harvest field of 3 of the top football schools in the country (i.e. Hoover from the MTV series). Pastor's Jeff and Calvin are good men, that are facing a rebirth in the church and looking for builders and releasers, both of which fit my mold. They are also huge supporters of FP and all that i believe in releasing students to reach students on their school campuses. And yet i have not heard the Lord at all say "yes this is the one."

Next is a church in Indianapolis. This church was pastored by the same man for about 20 years, and then he felt the Lord calling him to go back to school for his law degree. So he retired went to practicing law, and passed on the church to his son, off they went blooming in a new season. However, 4 years into it. His son got a call to return to the special forces and serve in Afghanistan. Which he gladly accepted, so now the church is left in need of another young family to come in and take it where the Lord has. Obviously, i am honored to even be considered for the discussion. And i love Vision, and Passion for a people, and Faithfulness to the call. What i cannot wrap my head around is the timing. Is this the season the Lord has for me to take up such a task to be the Lead Pastor. Especially since i am the guy who says he will work with Youth until he is 90 :<)

Next is a church out of Sapphire, NC, led by a good man, who planted the church 18 months ago. However, the church has seemed to peak, and though Pastor Steve is young in heart at 58, he needs someone with the energy and variance to come in and help him take it through its next season. Again, i am honored to even be part of that discussion.

Finally is a church Raleigh, NC. This church is in search of their next YP. And though i know nothing about them, my contact fills they may be the best fit for me that he knows of. Again, honored to even start the discussion.

I am left with these thoughts, and think i will close my night with them. Actually they are my prayers, i continue to repeat. "Lord, here is our family send us, Not our will be done but yours. God if we are called away from Nashville at this point, then why do we continue to become more and more tied to this city, its families, its lost, its hurting, its unloved? Lord, when we search our hearts and consider where you might send us, we consider the Northeast, and yet every opportunity keeps us in the very Christianize south, why, when we are so turned off by it? Father as i consider all of these things, i am reminded what my older, wiser, friend Benny says "Ministry is often less about where we are, and more about who we are."

So i have chosen to wait Lord." I would rather struggle where i am, and wait til i hear his voice clearly. Then to jump at a "good opportunity" only to have missed what he was trying to release me into where i was.

May the Peace, Grace, and Glory of Jesus, chase each of you today.

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