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Imagine with me…it’s early June, it finally happened, school is out for the summer. Your student comes home and throws their backpack to the back of their closet to not be seen for months. They plant themselves on the couch, swiping through their phone, their head full of dreams of sleeping in and weeks full of freedom. Now, while there is certainly room for that on every summer break—wouldn’t it be great if there was something more for your student this summer? Well, there is. I’d like to encourage every family to send their 6th-12th grade student to Crossings Camp and our North Cincinnati Mission Trip (registration for both is open online!)

Our students, like a lot of us, will often default to the easiest option—which for a student on summer break, is to fill those ten weeks with a whole lot of nothing. However; I want more for our students and I know you do as well! While I don’t want to say forced…let’s just say “highly encouraged…” here are some reasons why I believe your student should be “highly encourage” to go to Camp and the mission trip this summer!

  1. Jesus—always the right answer, but both of these trips offer an intentional opportunity for our students to grow in their relationship that matters most! In a week of camp, they are saturated with worship, preaching, small groups, and quiet time—away from all of their modern at-home distractions, to listen and let God speak to them. The unique spiritual environment of camp lets our students grow in ways they wouldn’t anywhere else!  The mission trip provides students the opportunity to serve like Jesus and share the Good News of Jesus with others. There are few things we want more for students then to put them into opportunities where they can be selfless—and the North Cincinnati Mission Trip is a perfect opportunity for that! 
  2. Fellowship—students are lacking interpersonal opportunities. Significant face to face interaction is invaluable and both of these opportunities allow for students to grow in their friendships with one another, make new friends, and be mentored by adults that care about them and their spiritual growth.
  3. Fun—both of these trips, while there is work done, and serious moments had, are still fun! Throughout camp, students are tearing it up with a few hundred other teenagers doing a variety of things, from jumping off lake inflatables, shooting paint at each other, dominating people in nukem and gaga ball, and a bunch of other activities (Link--!  During the mission trip, while we are there to serve first, our days are still full of fun and memorable events. While there, we have the opportunity to hang with the Clarkson family (our church plant partners) who are always down to have a barbecue or share an urban myth of Carlisle. We also fill our free time with fun activities and end our trip with a rest day—this year we’re planning on a return to King’s Island!

This is just a brief look at what could be in store for your student’s summer! However, sometimes students just need a little extra “encouragement” to go (or just, like, make them go, if you have to.) If you’d like even more info, call or email Alec--636-327-8696 or .

Posted by Alec Erhart with
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Our 8 member team (Glen Locklear, Carolyn Long, Steve & Dayle Bates, Gary & Saundra Mills, Vance & Kerry Poland) was well received, and our efforts were most blessed. We were able to conduct a Vacation Bible School for the children, and we can report that 26 people (19 children, 7 adults) made a commitment to Jesus. On our last day, 10 people were baptized in the nearby river and we joined the church members as they shared the Lord's Supper.

God's efforts to spread the gospel to the tribal Indians of the Gnobe Bugle region are most impressive. Though these people live in a remote mountainous jungle region, they are being ministered to by a number of local pastors.  Services and training are regularly conducted in an open-air pole building which is their church. On our first day there, I can report that the services were well attended and the message so powerful that even the dogs and chickens joined us. Though the people are very poor and their living conditions very substandard by our way of thinking, the people seemed most content. The many children of the people are respectful, well behaved, clean and attentive. All have jet black hair, dark, cocoa-colored skin, and expressive eyes and were eager to engage us. They very much seemed to enjoy the crafts we had them do.  The numerous pictures our team took should bear evidence of that fact.  We were able to leave them various craft supplies, paper, pencils, crayons, glue, and other provisions. Many of the children were still wearing the wordless bracelets we provided for them, and some were doubly blessed. I noticed one kid had twice the numbers of beads normally used. All the children enjoyed the cookies we provided for snack time.

On the advice of Steve and Dayle Bates, we were able to purchase lesson material from Child Evangelism Fellowship which was most useful. Steve himself did the many Bible illustrations in the teaching material, and having texts in both Spanish and English was definitely an asset. We gave that material to the local pastors to use after we left.

The ladies of the Hemmed in Prayer ministry in our church provided several clothing items for the people—shorts, shirts, dresses—and they were happy to receive them. It should also be noted that Samaritan's Purse delivered their Christmas boxes on that last day.  Unfortunately, we did not get to see them open them as we were departing, but that would have been great. I myself was able to donate clothing. Unfortunately it was my underwear. Donated to the god of the outhouse, when my laxative was slightly faster moving than I was. Though an unpleasant experience at the time, I can laugh about it now. If you can enjoy a laugh also, my mission is complete.

If you've ever contemplated going on a mission trip, I would encourage you to do it.  It is a rewarding experience. I'll concede that many may have reservations due to language issues, but that barrier can be overcome. Glen attempts to get as many translators as needed. Yes, your ability to communicate is limited, but you will still be able to experience the beauty of a country, a culture, and a people different from what you know. It is very eye-opening. When you see the struggle of the people trying to survive in a country much poorer than your own, you will come to realize how blessed we Americans really are. We should be thanking God every day. 

One also can experience a bonus on one of Glen's mission trips. It is not all “nose to the grindstone.” Prior to going to the tribal region, we were able to see the Panama Canal, go to the museum, tour Panama City, do some shopping, and see other sites—a double blessing for sure. Glen also makes sure that our lodging and meals are very good. In Panama, we stayed at the Radisson Hotel and our last lodging was at a resort on the ocean. We could walk the beach or swim in the ocean. It was very nice. 

If you still don't think that you want to go on a mission trip, I would strongly encourage you to pray for your director of missions (Glen Locklear) and future mission candidates. Putting together a successful mission trip is a monumental job. The job has many facets. Where to go, when to go, who to make arrangements with, what the mission should be, training candidates, securing translators, arranging transportation and drivers, securing reservations for flights and lodging, planning for meals, putting together a schedule, figuring a budget, handling passport and airport security issues. Considering contingent possibilities, Glen was up to the task and did an outstanding job. Left to myself, I would probably still be lost at the airport trying to figure out where to go, or else looking for a bathroom. 

Our team worked together very well. There were no issues with illness or injury—probably due to those in our church who prayed for us. Thank you. We all enjoyed the usual kidding and bantering that goes back and forth when a group gets together. Folks were able to endure my weird humor, and my only chastisement came when I wanted to feed the chickens at church. Glen (The Boss) acquired a few more monikers—String Nazi, Cookie Nazi, and a couple of others…but talk to him for those details. All of us were grateful for your prayers, and for the decisions that were made. God is good!

Posted by Vance Poland with

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