God’s Purpose Does Not Change: People Change In Partnership With God #171

Columbus Day weekend Sally Jo and I had the privilege of returning to Wheaton, IL where we both grew up and attended Wheaton Academy.  We had been asked to speak to the 650 students and faculty at their Friday morning chapel.  In preparation for this, I called Deerfooter Paul Ferguson.  He is Director of Admissions, Bible teacher, and head basketball coach at the Academy.   Paul had been counselor DL for two summers, missed a summer, and then returned as Guide leader.  He reminded me that in 1995 I had recommended him to Wheaton Academy as teacher and coach.

While a staff member at Deerfoot, Paul asked me to re-baptize him – the only time I have been asked to do this.   Paul was baptized as an infant.  As a young boy he went with his mom to a Billy Graham crusade.  It was there they both accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior.

At Deerfoot Lodge the significance of the decision he made at the Graham Crusade really hit him. Paul’s DL experience grounded him in his faith, and he came to realize the significance of Christian community.    “Chief, will you please baptize me into the DL fellowship of believers?”  Paul’s baptism was a statement to the DL community, and to the world, that he was fully committing his life to Jesus Christ as Lord.

Also while in Wheaton, businessman Jim Matson, a counselor our first year at Deerfoot (1982), asked if we could spend an hour together.  Because of his camp experience and training, Jim was serving on the Board of Directors of an excellent ministry seeking a new Executive Director.  We stretched the hour, but Jim had much yet to talk about.  Jim also wanted to have another Board Member involved in the discussion.  The only time we all had available was starting at 10:00 PM.  The discussion was rather intense until after midnight.   We talked through the importance of specific qualifications of a potential Executive Director, and the time necessary for the person to be comfortable enough to lead in his new position.

“Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will know what God wants you to do, and you will know how good and pleasing and perfect His will really is.” Romans 12:2  NLB

Not much has changed at DL in the past 82 years.  The setting is the same.  Buildings have been added as the numbers increased to 160 campers per session – but the purpose and program components have not changed.  The values of the world we live in continually change, but the values of Deerfoot Lodge do not change.   I am confident that if Dad Kunz, Founder and Director for Deerfoot’s first 23 years, spent a week at camp, his heart would be filled with joy and thanksgiving.

Deerfoot Lodge encouraged Paul and Jim to welcome God’s transformation of their lives, and God is using both to encourage young people to welcome God’s transformation in their lives.  The ripple effect of the DL ministry is tremendous.

The Biblical mandate is clear!      The results of living the mandate are also clear!

Do You Want It? #170

It was near the end of camp when Dave walked up to me totally frustrated.  He could not get his VW Bug into gear.

“Chief, do you want it?  I have a truck and a motorcycle and just do not need this.”  I had owned two VW Bugs – I like bugs!  “Dave, if you put the key in my hand, you are giving me the VW.”  He dropped the key, and later sent me the title.

I pulled the VW home.  “Dirk, would you like this VW Bug?”   Big grin…”of course!”  That afternoon Ken Siegel came by to check up on us.  Ken was a good friend who worked from the Albany County Highway Department.  He could fix almost anything.  We showed him the VW, told him the problem.  He slid under the VW – I am not sure he even had a wrench.   A few minutes later, out he slid smiling.  “Your VW is fixed!  For Ken, it was a simple clutch adjustment.  We laughed, and Dirk now had a VW bug that did not sound or look very good, but it was fully operational.

Dirk was 14 and had just returned spending several weeks In Kenya.  First he stayed with the Art Davis family, frontier missionaries.   Art was a Deerfooter and he had a son Dirk’s age whom they planned on bringing to DL the following summer.  While with them he helped pour a concrete floor and build a small house. Next he stayed with the John Barnett family who also had a son Dirk’s age.  They took Dirk on a Safari, and they spent several days at Rift Valley Academy, where many missionary kids went to school.  During non-class time, some students had built vehicles of various types.

“Dad, my sisters have sold their horses.  Can I have one side of the barn for my mechanic shop?”  I said we would buy the materials if he would do the work.  Dirk soon brought me his plans and the materials list.  We went over it carefully.

Step 1: Remove the back wall of the stall so the hay storage area could become part of the shop.  Step 2: Pour the concrete floor – something I had never done.  I thought we would hire it done, but Dirk said he had helped pour a floor in Kenya.  We read up on the process and got ready for the cement truck to arrive.  Long story short….the concrete was pretty hard by the time we had the floor reasonably leveled out.  Dirk rode his bike across the freshly poured floor, and his tires barely left a mark!  We learned a lot!!!

Over the next few months he reused all of the materials from the back wall, built a wide sliding door, and fully insulated, wired, and sheet rocked the walls from the stall height up. In came the VW, and the dismantling began.  We had found another VW for parts – $50.  With the DL Executive Committee’s permission, Dirk had access to the Deerfoot’s tools during the school year: torch, tig welder, sand blaster, paint gun, ETC.

When finished, his sister, Jenna, drove it off for college.  Jenna did not have Dirk’s knowledge of the car…and soon realized she would be better off without it.  Dirk now had a driver’s license – and a VW.  Several months later, in a down pour, a curve came up quickly.  The car slid across the road and slowly rolled into a corn field.  Nothing dramatic…but the car was re-shaped. The farmer pulled the car out of the field and Dirk called.  I came with the tow bar and as we pulled the battered VW home neither of us had much to say.  Then…”Dad, this is an example of a bad decision”.  We laughed weakly.  Again he rebuilt the VW…this time it was body work.

When Dirk left for engineering school, he had field experience, experience that also helped him be prepared to be the plant manager for the company that built the cement makers for the building of Hoover Dam.  He was 23.  He quit that job, went to seminary, and soon he and wife Jennifer were missionaries in Bolivia where he bought an old Jeep Cherokee which needed care, but would take them to back country villages.  Dirk calls our barn “his school”.

While a pastor in the Albany suburb of Delmar, He, Jennifer and their 3 sons, with help from men in their church, some with sons, are building a log cabin along the WestCanada River.

Living In Partnership With God may provide opportunities for you to learn or to teach many different skills: from lawn mower repair to construction to computer skills.  The relationships we build through teaching practical skills may open hearts to Jesus and His love, and prepare people for living in today’s world.   DL does this through wilderness camping – and the maintenance of the camp during the summer, and on work weekends.