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Thanksgiving 2017

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We have been thankful for the past few weeks, as the cold has been interspersed with bouts of sunlight making winterizing fairly pleasant.

Kids use the edging as a balance beam!

Kids use the edging as a balance beam!

Some notable progress has been made on the grounds with the walkways now finished! These will curb the spread of mulch walkways and maximize the grass, ensuring the whole area remains a pleasant hangout. We plan to continue cleanup and plant fresh grass in the spring.

Up and up and up....

Up and up and up....

For inside projects, our attentions are turning to the upstairs dorm space in the Dining Hall, as we have replaced the old wooden bunks with metal ones identical to those in the Cabin. The plan is to finish the room before setting these bunks up for winter camp, which is somewhat ambitious as we head into holiday season. While the dates for Winter Camp Weekend have not been set yet, it has been in both January and February for past seasons, so there are a few weeks here and there.

At long last, we installed a new chimney on the Cabin as well. This building is very cozy when warmed by the stove. In the past winters it has been used for youth groups, white elephant gift exchanges, Valentines events, and a dorm, warmed by space heater. Which, while effective enough, does not have quite the same atmosphere!

We are thankful for God's continued providence through generous donations and volunteer time. We are thankful for safety on ladders and around saws. We are thankful for community who know Bethany as an extension of home and who invite people in. We are thankful for God's mercies anew every day, keeping spiritual forces of evil at bay.

Please feel welcome to join us for Christmas in the Barn, December 3rd, 6pm.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Occupied October, Part 2

Food & Fellowship!

Food & Fellowship!

If fall nips at your heels, winter gnaws them off... we certainly experienced that last Friday with snow flurries and loads of wind!

We opted for "simple" with our booth, those posters came down after a while...

We opted for "simple" with our booth, those posters came down after a while...

Lots of interesting people!

Lots of interesting people!

There is so much going on lately that updates are a rather hodgepodge affair, but no less exciting. Our Fall Festival went over wonderfully despite being kept inside on a rainy day, nearly a hundred people around the community gathered for a grand time of fellowship, games, food, pumpkin carving, etc. We intend to continue this event and improve each year in the hopes that it becomes a fond family memory for many. Something that encourages souls decades down the road.

Ta-da! A Longtime labor of love and patience.

Ta-da! A Longtime labor of love and patience.

The Navigators Conference over the weekend of the 20th was a thorough blast- both fun and exhausting! There were droves of youth and we made some solid connections with potential counselors for camp. We got blessed with a privileged placement between the bookshop and the Java Bite booth giving out delicious dried mango samples. This meant our opportunities to interact and share with students was fairly constant! This conference was surprisingly encouraging to us personally as well, The Navigators is a solid ministry doing great work; all the leaders, staff, and other booth exhibitors we met with built us up with their hearts and minds in service to the Lord. We were reminded of God's providence and sovereignty in all things. We were reminded of our smallness, but also the bigness of gospel sharing, and that it is amazing to be involved in that.

We can't end without giving praise; after meeting with those in charge of the Exira Rec Center, Kids for Christ will be able to continue there! We are still seeking to move our location to better accommodate both parties concerned, but for temporary measures this is great news.

Please pray for planning and organization of our upcoming events, Christmas in the Barn, and Winter Camp Weekend. Please pray for our staff as we hustle to wrap up fall projects and prepare for the onslaught of winter. Please pray for Groves' youth group as it has been growing and focusing strongly on equipping through scripture memorization.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Occupied October

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Sometimes a title is just a placeholder. October has enough going on that the word "occupied" best fits our circumstances. To start with, Ken has begun to layer cob siding! This is simply monumental and years in the waiting. It is surprisingly fun to spread a wall with your hands!

The kitchen has seen marked improvement with soffits above the cabinetry, ceiling beams, crown molding, and the installation of lights above the island. Progress has also been made on the rangehood, but we would like to put a couple of finishing touches on that before presentation!

Last Saturday morning the 7th, saw our annual Women's Retreat with Sarah Stevenson as our guest speaker. She was a blessing to over 60 women who attended; there was great fellowship and worship surrounding this time. We have intentions of beginning retreats for men and families in upcoming years, as our facilities allow.

Upcoming is the Bethany Farm Fall Festival, postponed due to a hardy summer, now set for Saturday the 14th. This is the kind of event that Bethany Farm loves to host as an excuse for people to gather and "taste and see that the Lord is good". There will be plenty of goodies and good times to be had!

Also, we're in the books with a booth at The Navigators Conference which is new for Bethany Farm. God has always provided teachers and counselors for camp, so we're excited to see who might appear through this opportunity to network with a biblically solid organization.

Please pray for the women of this years retreat, that the teaching and conviction would lead to desire for the word and godly living. Please pray for the provision of a good location to continue our ministry in Kids For Christ. Please pray that God would bring about provision for Bethany Farm through the Navigators conference.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Workdays and Progress

We're feeling the crisp of cooler evenings now as the Fall Festival draws near! It's a breath of fresh air after the long haul of summer- even as summer scooted by so quickly.

Days of work in a couple hours!

Days of work in a couple hours!

Just about ready to mount and paint!

Just about ready to mount and paint!

We had a mens work day Saturday the 9th, to clean up the barn in preparation for a new season of sunday school with Bethany Efree. While the barn was the primary task, so much help arrived with gusto that we went ahead with the fairly hefty project of laying down 4x4 edging of our walkways- and nearly finished by lunchtime. We are so grateful for the church body and community that God has blessed Bethany Farm with. There have been many of these workdays in the past, and each one is so appreciated; the support for this camp is deeply encouraging.

Being able to begin some landscaping is exciting! This defining of paths will do a lot to cultivate our cozy "courtyard" here. It could also be called the commons- where everyone enjoys the shade.

Casey is making solid progress in the custom process of building the rangehood for the kitchen. This is akin to the mantelpiece of a den (in kitchen terms), and it is turning out beautifully. Additionally, it is the last major piece needed before saying "done!".

Lastly, despite feeling the nip of autumn, summer is holding ground surprisingly well. We have postponed the Fall Festival till a later date in October, as of yet to be announced. After all, hot cider and pumpkins have an entirely different level of enjoyment depending on temperature.

Please pray for the youth that have visited camp as school gets into full swing; that relationship with God would be made a priority, and that his truth in promises would be shown to them. Please pray for our staff as we balance work "on" camp, and work "through" camp. The physical needs and the people and purpose it serves.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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End of Summer Update

It is the last month of summer, along the roadways around here the sumac patches are beginning to turn from their strong green to brilliant crimson. The changing of seasons is one thing Iowa does well, whether abrupt or by phases.

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August sees the beginning of the new school year, and while camp has little tie in to that as of yet, the universality of that function on schedules plays a portion in our own schedules. Summer could be called "uninhibited". We have been getting back into the swing of things after camp season with major cleaning of our facilities, refreshing walkways, and general grounds improvement amidst personal goals best achieved in this slow month -actively speaking- of camp.

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Speaking of personal goals, Ken has been hard at work on his house and is nearing time for enclosing the outer walls, this is very exciting news for all of us. If all proceeds well, we're planning a sort of "barn raising" only adjusted for the circumstances of "wall raising".

Lastly, this year's fall festival is set for September 23rd, from 4:30-9:30pm. This is a special event hosted by Bethany Farm including a hay ride, pumpkin carving, campfire, and all those goodies associated with fall. There are hopes we'll even be able to do a cider pressing! Making memories for people based around good fellowship is a part of tasting what God's goodness is. Bethany Camp is all about sharing the gospel clearly in a context of love, friendship, and discipleship.

Please pray for Ken and Sue Jordan as they work hard towards the possibility of moving to their new home before winter (more likely in the spring). Please pray for our staff as we organize for the fall schedule including the festival, women's retreat, and youth conferences with the Navigators, and The Salt Company following in springtime. Please pray for Groves as they begin hosting Jr and Sr high youth groups with the new school year. Please pray for our Groundskeeper, Benjamin Bretey, as he seeks the Lord in college training and transition to full-time staff here at Bethany. Your prayers are truly a vital part of this ministry.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Nichol's Family Work Weekend

Many hands, light work.

Many hands, light work.

Pass 'em up and screw 'em down.

Pass 'em up and screw 'em down.

Recently we had the blessing of a work weekend put together by the Nichols family. With their provision and willing hands we were able to purchase and install a much needed steel roof on our girls dorm. This is currently where Ken and Sue Jordan abide, but as their new house construction continues towards completion, we're looking ahead to reworking this building for its intended purpose as a thirty-or-so person dorm.

Voila!

Voila!

The Nichols family have a long history with Bethany and a healthy work ethic, so before and after installing the steel in a single morning, it was perfectly natural for them to enjoy camp and the grounds together. We have had family camp before, consisting of multiple families, but not a single related group. It was so good to see their rest and fun, and to understand in action another ministry of Bethany- as a family retreat. We are all about this kind of fellowship and would love to see the facilities used more often this way.

July is typically less action packed for Bethany, as staff travels to spend time with family, yet when we look ahead to the new school year, there are several things we certainly desire your partnership in prayer. Nearly every year has seen an increase of youth for summer camps, and there simply isn't capacity for that. This year primary was split into two groups, and intermediate required the addition of a fifth-wheel trailer to sleep everyone. We are all eager to grow camp, but desirous to follow God's leading in doing so. The heart of Bethany is introducing youth to Christ, and discipleship thereafter- Bethany is best geared towards doing that with thirty youth as opposed to sixty. Bethany is established, but limited, and that is a key word. The future of Bethany is camps, retreats, and special events year round, in a limited footprint.

Please pray for staff as we bring together the endgoal for an efficient and sustainable camp. A vision to share with surrounding churches and people to get involved with what God is doing. Please pray for support of all our bi-vocational staff, for financial needs to be met, and the introduction of new people as God sees fit to meet the needs of hands to accomplish running camp.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Jr. & Sr. High 2017

Voluntary outdoors study on Hebrews 11.

Voluntary outdoors study on Hebrews 11.

High school camp was so good- and so different than the previous two camps. The younger weeks are watching, learning... and asking less, these youth ask while subtly watching.

Dudes playing a round of Smash Up.

Dudes playing a round of Smash Up.

This year's high school camp was the most joyous and laugh filled we have ever experienced. There was a mixture of believers and lost, but many of the youth specifically came seeking to learn about God. Discipleship is so apparently needed, and all of our counselors loved going in depth with their individual breakouts, working through questions of life with answers found in scripture.

Big swing, big success!

Big swing, big success!

This is also the age that allows us more freedom of schedule and a greater depth of friendship. Nap times turn into a combo of snoozing, chill games, or one-on-one conversations, mealtimes stretching their boundaries with swapped stories, evenings wearing late with stargazing, confession, and prayers. It is said truly in James 5:16, confession brings about healing from one another through prayer.

We had the blessing of Pastor James Owlabi from Chicago once again as our session teacher. He taught about faith through the book of Nehemiah. Faith is doing what, how, and when, as God tells you. Faith is an act of courage- action in the face of fear. We make decisions out of fear of many things when we forget what our faith is in, and what promises we stand on.

Totally cool crafts!

Totally cool crafts!

Finally, we were brought to confession as a first step of building faith. As James said, "not everything we face can be changed, but nothing can be changed without facing it".

We concluded the week by making a 'game plan', what it is we would do upon returning home. Camp is such an amazing and safe retreat, a space to clear thoughts and be encouraged and refreshed, but it is not our everyday experience. What plan will you employ to stand against the schemes of the evil one? When will you read the word of God? Where will you make that happen?

Listening to sermons and teachers and reading books or going to camp only goes so far. You must make the choice for yourself to go for it and invest in your relationship with God.

Please pray for youth returning home to stick with their game plans, that the Holy Spirit would reveal God's word to them so that they would taste and see how good God is, that his promises are sweet, unshakable, and life giving. That the fruit of the spirit would work out through their lives and display God's glory. Please pray for Bethany Farm as we debrief and praise God for his faithfulness and power.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Intermediate 2017

Evening sun, evening fun. And rainbow!

Evening sun, evening fun. And rainbow!

What a wild week! Over fifty kids crammed in and necessitated a loaned fifth-wheel trailer to house all the boys, while the girls filled both their dorms to the rafters. As Bethany Farm grows we are prayerfully considering the size versus frequency of camps that best suits the ministry of discipleship here. One thing is clear, there is no shortage of campers to fill dorms.

Continuing on with our theme of Faith from Hebrews 11, we have Moses whose word is Courage. This means faith through action in the face of fear. God called Moses to go speak with Pharaoh to set his people free, but Moses had a long list of excuses, and he was very afraid. His source of courage came from God who holds ultimate power, rather than what he could muster from his own strength when he first attempted to help the Israelites in Egypt.

We also had Ruth who displayed faith in knowing God. Instead of returning to Israel in hopes of a new husband, she chose to follow widowed Naomi who had no chance of fortune in that culture and time. Ruth chose to forgo making her own way in the pursuit of knowing God, and was blessed with a husband in Boaz, and is known for having King David in her line of descendants.

Kids bein' cool.

Kids bein' cool.

Return of the Lunar Rover Races!

Return of the Lunar Rover Races!

Eating together is great fellowship.

Eating together is great fellowship.

Friendships :)

Friendships :)

Several of these kids found Christ and others rededicated their life; we don't know quite what ground these seeds are planted in, but it is our commandment to make disciples and use the power in prayer to see God change actual hearts. He does say he is with us to the end of days- he is the one who does the actual saving of souls, we must merely be obedient in love towards others, sharing the truth of Jesus with them.

Tomorrow we begin High school. This age group is often very set in their ways with very scarred and hard hearts. Please pray that our words and actions would pour from compassion and love powered by our God- that his presence and love would be made known to them. Please pray that our counselors would be energized and ready to pour out emotionally to connect and reach these youth. Thank you so much for your prayers!

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Primary 2017

The swings were in constant use!

The swings were in constant use!

Kickball as one of our Big Night Games.

Kickball as one of our Big Night Games.

A classic Bethany Farm setting.

A classic Bethany Farm setting.

Our intern Josiah at work!

Our intern Josiah at work!

God blessed us this first week with beautiful camp weather! Gentle breezes and sunshine just shy of ninety degrees. This is the first year we split our Primary group (ages 7-9) into two, and there were 50 who attended altogether. Bethany is all about discipleship, and doing this allowed us to be available with smaller breakout groups for each counselor.

We also had our first intern speaker- from Moody Bible Institute- Josiah Williams. Our morning and evening session time is being taught from Hebrews 11. Each session a character is brought back from the past through use of the Time Machine by Dr Machvaillious, and we focus on one particular aspect of faith they display with an interview. First up is Noah, whose word is Action. Faith is more than speaking, it is acting on belief. Noah had faith and acted upon it by building the ark God instructed him to make, even though rain and floods had never happened.

Next we had Joseph, who displayed faith in perseverance as he trusted God through being thrown in a well, sold into Egyptian slavery, wrongly accused of adultery, and left in prison for years. In breakout we also connected perseverance and action as both parts of faith, because Noah demonstrated perseverance in building the ark for a hundred years.

Tomorrow we begin Intermediate (ages 10-13) which runs through Thursday afternoon. It is a large group, so please pray that our counselors would be remembering Romans 1:16 in that the gospel has the power to change people, and Ephesians 6:12 in that those people (or in this case a horde of lost children) are not what they fight, rather Satan who does not want any to meet and understand Jesus as their savior.

Please pray for the little ones who went home this past week, to find a desire from God to read his word and know him. Please pray for the youth arriving, that God would make his presence and truth real to them this week. Please pray for energy and clear minds for our counselors. Please pray for all things camp.. volunteers, safety, logistics, food, lessons.. Thank you so much for your prayers.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Training 2017

Today when our group comes together at 7pm, we wrap up counselor training which consists of spiritual, physical, and mental preparation. The last few days (June 1-3) were fairly packed cleaning up dorms, fixing some broken things, brainstorming games, learning songs, building the set, and praying through it all.

Hanging a swing means getting real high...

Hanging a swing means getting real high...

Up above is rigging this years Secret Project, a giant swing. We have had the ambition to do so before, but this year we have permanent equipment; each summer and fall we'll be able to easily re-hang and take down this swing.

This years theme is Time Travel, we are in Hebrews 11 which has many people known for faith, and the concept is to bring them back one at a time to ask questions about what faith is, and what it is in action. Obviously we have created something capable of warping time very safely.

As Bethany Farm has cleaned up and grown, this shady area between the barn, tree, and foursquare patio has become a sort of "commons". Or courtyard. We put up a swing here that will see constant use.

Speaking of cleaning up- while we intend to build a shower house in the future- we slapped a fresh coat of paint on the walls of our current accommodations and the place looks pretty good. Amazing what a little elbow grease can do sometimes!

...so people can swing real high!

...so people can swing real high!

Time Machine!!!

Time Machine!!!

If we built a giant swing... why not three more small ones?!?

If we built a giant swing... why not three more small ones?!?

Please pray for our counselors energy levels, to drink water and daily seek refreshment in the word. Please pray for the campers arriving, that their hearts would be softened to the work of God through counselors, volunteers, and teaching of his word. Please pray for he truth of salvation from sin through Jesus Christ to reach hearts, transform lives, and bring God glory.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Mahmah's Day

Sum-MAH! It is right around the corner and racing to be here- cause there is a mere two weeks of school left and camp will be GOING! We may be getting excited.

For starters, the pool is up and running rather *ahem* swimmingly, with fancy new leak-less valves and pipes. Work on the kitchen has gone through tiling and grout to arrive at a nicely functional point before camp. All that remains is light fixtures, the rangehood for the stove, and some trim bits which can easily wait until after camp.

Tiles & no grout...

Tiles & no grout...

... to tiles & grout!

... to tiles & grout!

Way up there!

Way up there!

In other news, we had some excellent people limb off the crown of Oak Grovron- our treehouse in the timber- for hardly more than the cost of operations. As you can see by the size of the job, we are grateful for both the professional tools and the financial blessing.

And nearly done.

And nearly done.

Speaking of Mothers (we weren't really), did you know Jesus had one? This is so Jesus was both man and God. Not just a holy being that could not struggle against sin, and not just our representative as man that would inevitably sin, but God and man as a perfect substitute who lived according to God's standard and then payed the death penalty for sin that we could not. We know from Matt. 1:18 that through the Holy Spirit Jesus had parents, yet was born without inherited sin as we all have inherited from Adam, our original representative. Check out Romans 5 for encouragement!

Please pray for our gathering counselors, cooks, teachers, and missionary speakers, that God would be preparing our hearts and minds for the unique environment of camp ministry. Please pray for our staff as we continue to ready the grounds and buildings for camp. Please pray that hearts would be moved to attend camp and softened to the truth found in God's word.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Easter 2017

Wish you were here! Come and enjoy the peacefulness of the lake!

Wish you were here! Come and enjoy the peacefulness of the lake!

The island is GORGEOUS! It'll get beat up.

The island is GORGEOUS! It'll get beat up.

The grass is vibrant green, the trees are exploding leaves, and the sky is blue, blue, blue. Everything is new- and it is all the more apparent being Easter. Christ is Risen! He is the author and perfecter of our faith, seated in heaven at the right hand of God. He chose to despise the shame of the cross for the joy set before him. Our reconciliation and his glorification. (Heb 12:2)

The stained and sealed counters are AWESOME! They'll see some rough days.

The stained and sealed counters are AWESOME! They'll see some rough days.

One of the shames found in the cross is that the stroke of death is not brought on by the accusers, but by the accused themselves. No longer having strength, they must give in to death and judgement without resistance. They choose death. Yet listen to John 10:18, "No one takes it (my life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father."

There was no execution, no sword to the heart. Jesus chose the cross. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away, and the new has come. (2 Cor. 5:17)

All of our efforts and time, fueled by your support, they do not mean anything unless and until this message is made clear. Jesus came to seek and save the lost. These counters for preparing and serving food, they could be anywhere for any reason funded by anyone. But these are here to be paired with a witness for Christ. Used by people who will look others in the eye, reach out and touch, and share love that comes from the Father. Food that will go on tables and first see hands folded in prayer. Thank you so much for your support!

Please pray for our staff as we consider partnerships with churches and the doings of networking. Please pray that parents and youth considering summer options will choose Bethany! Please pray for hearts to be called as counselors.

May God's grace and peace be with you.
 

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Spring is Sprung

Spring is well underway and we are quite aware of remaining objectives to wrap up in these two months before camp. Most notably, our kitchen, opening the pool, clearing out the timber, creating some secret project like the one here, and welcoming all the prayed in counselors, teachers, mission speakers, and volunteers.

The kitchen continues to see good progress, with much persistence in troweling the counters they turned out wonderfully. The rest of the upper cabinets have been assembled and hung, and the island cabinets set. It's a large joy to see this room coming together and getting close to full utilization for service. It will be magnificent! Last year our cooks made do quite valiantly with folding tables and zero storage, which certainly resulted in a huge amount of headache and perseverance. Bethany Farm would be nowhere without volunteers giving their time and effort for the kingdom.

In the coming days we are wrapping up dyeing and sealing the counters, moving on to finish the island, and tiling the backsplash. After which, we're down to finishing the trim and lighting, installing doors and handles, and saying IT'S DONE!

There is blessing in knowing your work is for the Lord. It lends a special energy and endurance that is not found on our own. Not all jobs are so apparent as work here- we encourage you to remember- whatever you do, do it for the Lord. (Colossians 3:23-24) He knows your heart and attitude. A light on a hill is no specific location apart from the fact that it is demonstrably visible, and truthfully, you are much more visible in your workplace than Bethany Farm ever will be.

Please continue to pray that counselors will be supplied, men and women with a desire to know Christ and make him known. Please pray for our staff as we measure the days ahead and work to prepare for camp. Please pray that people will hear of Bethany Farm as a safe place to taste and see that the Lord is good, and there is refuge to be found in him. (Psalm 34:8)

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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March Forth

March! March Forth! Joshua 1:9 comes to mind: "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

Countertop ready for concrete.

Countertop ready for concrete.

This is the attitude and the happenings at Bethany; as the warmth pushes in we are marching forth. Towards what? Towards achieving an efficient, sustainable camp able to minister through discipleship in retreats, camps, and bible study. There is planning and building and maintaining and cultivating.

Here's a story of grace: Last Thursday a few of our staff returned to Ikea to retroactively apply their spring sale to our original cabinetry purchase, a plan that included all the base cabinets and two upper pieces by the stove. After all the numbers went through we acquired everything needed to finish the upper cabinets too, for a grand total of six dollars and thirty-four cents. Praise the Lord! He knew just the amount we needed.

It it tempting to say "March Madness" instead of March Forth- because we are cranking up the rollercoaster that is summer. But we have seen and testify to Gods providence in timing too. Confidence in his ability is freeing in the days of working hard and wondering if perhaps all the things are going to come together in time.

Please pray for counselors, especially young men, to commit the month of June as a mission trip to Bethany. Please pray for support of our staff that is largely bi-vocational (supplementing financial support with odd and part-time jobs), that we would become freed to focus on bringing about God's work at and around Bethany.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Winter Camp Weekend 2017

It's really something when a single day blows away sixty degree spring into winter for the very two days there happens to be a winter camp. Hurray! Did we need it? We should say no.. did we love it? Yes!

These few days were packed like slushy snowballs with sessions, breakout, loads of games, snow excursions, and a healthy quantity of food. For example, hot chocolate is healthy, because heat is necessary for survival.

Nerf Wars 'N Forts, ah yeaah.

Nerf Wars 'N Forts, ah yeaah.

Spoons, in the process of escalation.

Spoons, in the process of escalation.

It was a fantastic weekend.

An Expedition through the Timber Tundra.

An Expedition through the Timber Tundra.

Through sessions we learned about the importance and distinction of physical and spiritual rest. These are critical to living a life of walking in the spirit. We learned that laziness is less doing nothing and more devoting attention to meaningless things. We work hard at being lazy, and become more weary as a result. We were built up and encouraged to practice good habits of resting in reading the word of truth and preparing for the work ahead, so that when we become weary, we will not also be beaten.

Whack-um: a free license to whack friends.

Whack-um: a free license to whack friends.

Please pray for the youth to specifically carve out time for spiritual rest. Please pray for our staff as we brainstorm for summer camp that seems distant yet is right around the corner. Please pray that young men and women would be brought forth by the Lord to be counselors in practicing discipleship that invariably causes them to grow as well.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Cabinets And Camaraderie

A caravan of cabinetry~

A caravan of cabinetry~

Hello to one and all, we have had a lot of fun and reason for rejoicing just lately. Our trip to Kansas City last weekend was very successful- there was the likelihood that we would be ordering what we came for and waiting a few weeks- we came back with the last set IKEA had that we decided on. Your prayers were certainly felt, everything went really very well.

Fro-yo. In January?!?

Fro-yo. In January?!?

As it is now, all of those sides and drawers and things are assembled, and we're ready to mount everything to the walls of the kitchen this week. Packing up folding tables and carrying out piles of kitchenware in preparation was celebratory, to say the least. This has been long awaited not by just us, but the whole community.

Our team greatly enjoyed this trip. Although we all know each other, so much of our time is in work and ministry that several hours on the road was an opportunity to simply converse and build relationships. We know God uses whom he chooses regardless of our weaknesses and it is so good to see him provide workers that complement in different ways.

Sadly, there was no pizza in those big square boxes. Just cabinets and drawers..

Sadly, there was no pizza in those big square boxes. Just cabinets and drawers..

Tonight we host Bethany's first hymn sing, and it feels fitting. Nothing here has happened without prayer and God obviously doing it.

Please pray that's lots of jr and sr high youth attend WcW (winter camp weekend), and find desire to know God and follow him. Please pray for our staff in balancing projects and people with love and grace. Please pray for the WcW teachers and counselors for wisdom in ministry.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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2017.... The Future

A turn of the page! What will the happenings be in 2017? We'll find out. Every year brings new things or people that haven't always been expected, yet God continually works. His providence is real. It just so happens that the way in which it comes about, is not always able to be expected.

Artsy picture of the frozen lake!

Artsy picture of the frozen lake!

Here's some exciting news- we have funds available to move forward on finishing the kitchen of Bethany Hall! This firstly means base cabinets in preparation for counters, and secondly means a kitchen conducive to cooking on a camp level this coming season- as opposed to bare-bones functionality. This is a good thing. Our staff heads to Kansas City this coming Saturday to purchase what's planned, and we are all looking forward to the opportunity of starting 2017 with a mini "team-building trip".

We also have winter camp upcoming, February 24th-26, and look forward to all that God brings to these few days. We hope he also brings snow- however much of an inconvenience it may be at times...

It is 2017 everyone. Doesn't that sound like the future? We have computer chips the size of a thumbnail that hold a million books. It feels a bit like the future here at camp. With the Hall established and hosting people every Sunday, being used as a beautiful venue for weddings and other events, camp seems at a crest. The point where functionality is mostly realized (absolutely by God's grace have things functioned thus far and will continue too) and we're carefully considering what being good stewards of the campus looks like going forward. We have been blessed hugely. At the start, there was no renovated barn, pool, hall, cabin, decks anywhere, lake, timber. Even the grounds were not clear. Most evidently, the populace was lost, and there is now community. It would be unbelievable if we didn't know and witness that it has so obviously been God's work.

Please pray for our staff meetings as we consider what God has brought about here, and his future ministry. Please pray for our group trip to Kansas City to be a great start for 2017. Please pray for summer camp, that we would find teachers and counselors and mission speakers as God brings them forward.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Christmas In The Barn 2016

Awaiting an audience.

Awaiting an audience.

Blessings to you and yours.

Christmas in the Barn- is really nothing- yet full every year. We put up lights, bring in a tree, arrange music, pray for God's work, and then people show up. A good many we don't even know which makes it better.

The Hall's first Christmas.

The Hall's first Christmas.

We did end up utilizing the Hall for the first half of the event due to the overwhelming pros, but afterwards gathered in the Barn for treats and fellowship. The gift of Jesus was shared during the program alongside specially arranged music and readings from scripture.

Wall to wall people!

Wall to wall people!

Here's the thing: the gift of Jesus is Jesus. Himself! God gave himself. While we were still his enemy, he loved by giving himself. To live as a follower means the same, giving of ourselves. This is because love is a choice. God chose to create in order to share love. God chose to do what was grievous to himself for our reconciliation. God chooses patience with his creation in order to bring about restoration.

Please pray that we understand the gift of presence. Please pray that we are receptive and loving to the community that is here, at the unexpected moments. Please pray that we be seeking his presence in each of our own times of quiet. Merry Christmas to you.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! Let that not sound empty for you; thankfulness is woven with peace. It is also something to choose. What reason is there to be happy? Grab a bible and ask for truth to be revealed for you. Delve into Ephesians or the Psalms. Every good and perfect gift comes from God, who does not change like a shadow.

Toby strikes a resolute pose.

Toby strikes a resolute pose.

New doors! Such a small part of a building, yet quite effecting. These close themselves, seal snug and securely, let in the light, open easily, and happen to also look fantastic, welcoming in those outside. All of which our previous set lacked.

We are thankful.

Which is better- to labor, toil, network, and ascribe all material possession and relationships to oneself- or to realize even our very health comes from God? There is not much thankfulness in bringing about our own prosperity, there is not much contentment without thankfulness, and there is not much peace without contentment.

Christmas in the Barn is set for December 11th. Having Bethany Hall available this year meant making a choice over location, and the Barn won over discussion despite the advantages of our Hall, as the Barn evokes a much more intimate environment for this setting. Future years, that may or may not change. We are looking forward to this special time and tradition for remembering Jesus.

We are thankful for twenty years of providence. Thankful to be in the beauty of Iowa, the Shire. Thankful for hearts brought in by God with uniquely different, yet complimentary talents for his work in Bethany and around this area. Thankful for the community that God brought about through Bethany that now supports us in so many ways. Thankful for God's righteous anger and judgement of sin that does not allow for us the return to slavery. Thankful for his son Jesus who has taken our judgement fully upon himself so that we can live free from self-indulgence and spread his love further.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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Fethany Farm Fall Fethival!

Oh, sorry! That is supposed to read "Bethany Farm Fall Festival"!

Silliness aside... Facilitating the making of an atmosphere of wonder is one sub-goal of Bethany Farm. All of creation was made good, only corrupted by sin, and by that corruption the way by which we see creation as well. We find in Romans 1:25 that enjoyment of creation has been twisted to superseding God. We obviously invest in creation that has no fulfillment even in constant indulgence. One of the beauties of God is that when we are satisfied in him, we regain the perspective needed to find delight in creation because it reflects his awesome glory. Our hope is no longer in material things which can change in a moment. Here at camp this is something we seek to recapture. That following Christ is not stifling, boring religion- rather it has joy because we are filled and surrounded by his overwhelming goodness.

Carving pumpkins! Before it got messy...

Carving pumpkins! Before it got messy...

We seek in part to facilitate experience combined with the good news. Psalm 34:8 says "taste and see that the Lord is good; blessed is the one who takes refuge in him." Sometimes good news is simply shared from one to the other in a big group. Sometimes those who don't know end up finding because of love shared from someone they never would have met elsewhere. 

On October 22 we had this Fall Festival. Around thirty people came and it was simply a special time. There are so many beautiful moments in Autumn and this was a way to get out and sit in it. People frequently need something to put on the calendar in order to carve out a time for being. Being outside, or somewhere else. Just breaking the stream of everyday experience brings about moments that God uses to impress his presence upon people.

We hope you are stopping to see the changing of leaves. Maybe reveling a little bit in the pricks of chill at the openings of jackets, or the sweet, sweet comfort of a soft blanket that just isn't the same during summer. We hope you are seeking God in the dim and solitude of crisp early mornings (coffee makes a good companion).

Please pray for Bethany Farm. That our staff would make all requests made known with thanksgiving (Phil 4:6). Please pray that a few people would be made available for help with Kids for Christ beginning soon. Thank you so much for these prayers.

May God's grace and peace be with you.

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