Brody Holloway kicks off SWO14 by looking at the story of the rich young ruler in Mark 10. We do not bring anything to God in order to save ourselves; no one can be saved apart from God graciously saving them.
We are excited to report that the passport applications for JuJu and Mo have been turned over to Immigration here in Uganda. This is sort of like the halfway point of the process. Turnaround for these applications has been about a week, so we will hopefully have our passports in hand by next Monday. Once we get those we can begin the medical screening process, which takes about a week. From there, we go to the US Embassy. The Embassy stage is about a week, barring any hang-ups. We have quite a few friends who have run into various paperwork issues at the Embassy, so pray we are vigilant and detailed in preparing the documentation for the Embassy. Once we are at the Embassy, we can be out of country within a few days. We are just asking people to pray for us until we are on a plane headed for home.
As I write this, I am awaiting a flight for the States. I will be flying into Jacksonville, FL. on Thursday to speak at a church, then home on Sunday. I will have a few days at SWO, then, head to Charlotte for the Live Sent Conference at Hickory Grove. Little and the kids will be staying here in Uganda, and I will return on Monday, March 17. We are asking for prayer during this short trip.
Pray for Little and the kids, and for the continued process of adoption while I am gone.
Pray for JuJu and Mo, as this will be the first time I leave them for more than a few minutes, since we got them. Pray they have a peace from God as they try to figure things out.
Please pray for God’s favor as I prepare, study, pray, and preach God’s Word to students over the next couple weeks. I so desire the power of God to grip the thousands who will hear.
We love you all, and are so grateful for you.
SWO13 is approaching the mid-summer point, and it has been a blistering pace. We have had students come from all over the country and have seen God move in amazing ways. Many have come from darkness to light, from death to life, by the power of the Gospel. We have been blessed with a great staff for the summer and they are pouring their lives into these students.
SWO is a year-round ministry, but more than half of our participants come in during the 10 weeks of summer camp and stay longer than at any other time of year. During the school year, the average conference or camp at SWO is two nights, but in the summer, it is five nights. This gives us a great opportunity to really invest in and connect with students and leaders.
Pray that our staff continues to endure the long hours and emotionally and spiritually grueling ministry of so many thousands of hurting students and families. We are standing on the Gospel alone, in Christ alone, to minister to needs that we are not qualified to address. But praise be to God, HE knows every need, and every person who will come through, this summer.
I will share some personal stories as the summer continues.
Thanks for the support through prayer. Hope to see you at SWO before the summer is over.
We are going into Week 3 of SWO13. It’s awesome to see what God is doing. Continue to pray with us for the work God is doing this summer. Pray for our staff — for endurance, for obedience, for humility, for zeal. Pray that we boldly carry the Gospel.
We are in full swing at SWO right now getting ready for the Summer Programs. We have more students on the books to attend Snowbird Summer Camps and programs than we have ever had at this point in the year. We hit the 99 percent mark in our SWO camp registration numbers last week, and our SMO missions program is at 85 percent. The OLD School program is up as well. There is a lot to do to get ready for Summer, but nothing as big or as important as the selection, training, and assigning of our summer staff.
Many of you have served on SWO summer staff, and you know the depth of impact that our staff have on the students and leaders that we minister to. This year we have staff from all over the world. From Malawi to Canada to Sweden, and from more than 20 states in the U.S, over 100 seasonal summer staff have applied, been selected, and committed to spend 12 weeks here this summer. We are preparing for our orientation weekend, which is coming up in a few weeks. On April 12-14 the SWO13 staff will come in for a weekend training event, which will focus on ministry philosophy and discipleship. There is nothing that we put more effort into than the spiritual growth and development of our staff. If these guys are being ministered to and maturing in their individual walks with the Lord, then student ministry will be most effective.
Please pray for the SWO13 staff as God uses them in the lives of the thousands of students who will come through this summer. Pray for them now as the Lord is preparing them for all that He is going to do through them.
This summer will be life-changing for more than just students who attend.
The 2013 event was another packed house. Thanks to everyone who attended. We had more than 50 reserve staff come in for the weekend to lead small groups and run rec. We could never pull off a weekend like this without help.
We saw students come from all over the Southeast, representing eight states and driving from as far as South Florida and Northern Virginia. We even saw a kid from Germany who is here as an exchange student pray to receive Christ! Thanks to everyone who was following the weekend and praying for us.
Students were challenged from a lot of different staff testimonies, and the SWO band led us in worship. On Friday night, we kicked off the weekend with a challenge from 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 to realize that Christ not only saves us from sin, including sexual sin, but he also FREES us from it. He doesn’t save us then leave us to fend for ourselves. On Saturday we had a panel discussion on biblical sexuality, focusing on the issue of homosexuality. This session was optional but was attended by 90 percent of students and leaders. We couldn’t have expected such a great turnout. Then we closed out the day with an extended time of worship led by the SWO band.
Sunday morning we looked at 1 Thessalonians 4:1-8 and were challenged to “Abstain by Fighting.” There is no passive approach to sexual purity, whether you are married or single. Anyway, that is a quick recap, but we will get those sessions up on podcast in the next few days. Thanks again to everyone who showed up. And to everyone who left focused and committed to honor God sexually in singleness or marriage. We are praying for you! Fight on!
I don’t know why, but “missions” is a subject that seems to make people nervous. It seems that whenever we start talking about reaching the unreached or seeing the Gospel spread to the ends of the earth, folks start squirming. For most American Christians, the thought of “having” to go to some other part of the world and minister to a people group of a different culture and language is scary. In fact, it stirs in most of us a tight-fisted attitude of rebellion.
There is, no doubt, a Jonah-type syndrome in the American church. The need is obvious, and the fields are white for harvest. And everyone seems to be looking for the first ship to Tarshish. There really are only a few laborers. I think that the very word “missions” still conjures up images of spear-chucking natives bent on killing and eating foreign human flesh. And that scares people. But we will be held responsible for what we do with the Great Commission.
Jesus gave us clear instructions before he left to have a seat at the right of God the father: We are to baptize people from EVERY language and nation. We are to teach them the commands of Christ and scripture. The American church needs desperately to realize that no other generation has had the resources that we have to reach the world.
Technology is amazing, and rather than using it simply to keep in touch with old high school teammates and ex-girlfriends, we should be seizing the opportunity it gives us to make a global impact. Through websites like www.joshuaproject.net, we can learn of needs of foreign people groups and pray and give to the work of the Gospel to reach those groups. If we are too weak-spirited to go, we should first repent of our attitude of self-preservation, and then learn how we might give to the work and support of those obedient to go and do what God has called us to do.
We can pray for these groups, pray for missionaries, and write letters of support to those who are serving in the field. We do this as a family, and many of you have taken part in our letter writing campaign at SWO Underground. There are so many opportunities to give our resources and to pray for our brothers and sisters around the world who are willing to forsake all for the sake of the Gospel. We ALL have a responsibility to close the gap on the 3 billion who have never heard.
This past year, we saw students from all over the United States raise more than $30,000 so that part of the Bible could be translated into the language of an unreached people group. Many of you participated in this, known at SWO as the Garia Project. I am excited to share with our readers that the project — Phase 1 — is complete. The Gospel of Mark has been successfully translated into the Garia language!
For the first time in history, this South Asian people have the Word of God, the Gospel of Jesus, in their language! This is a good reminder that there are things we can do from right here at home. The fields really are white, and for the first time in history, we have the means necessary to begin the harvest. Pray about how you might give if you are not able or willing to go. SWO has opportunities for partnership in the global work of the Gospel. To find out more, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Looks like SWO will be offering a new rec this summer. Check it out!
There are so many options of things to do when it floods.
We had a great weekend hosting the 2012 SWO Marriage Retreat. We have been so excited to host this year’s event, knowing the great opportunity we have in challenging couples to biblical marriage. The event sold out, and we actually had to turn away dozens of couples who had been on a waiting list.
The thrust of the weekend was bringing our marriages into the lens of the Gospel. There seems to be such a trend in ministry right now to talk a lot about the Gospel, and I am excited about that. There is nothing in all of creation that is not impacted by the Gospel. There are books being written by prominent pastors, and there are conferences and ministries being named around that one word — “Gospel.” Even for our SWO13 summer camp, we are emphasizing and working around the theme of the Gospel and its centrality in all things. We’re excited!
But there is NO greater platform to display the love, grace and glory of Christ in the Gospel than the platform of biblical marriage. If we are to experience God-honoring marriages that reflect His covenantal love to us, then we must build marriages on the foundation of the Gospel.
We had a great time this weekend breaking down the Gospel-marriage relationship. Thanks to everyone who attended. Podcasts will be up soon at swoutfitters.com.
I was honored to speak at Kennesaw FBC’s Men’s Conference in Georgia this past weekend. From there, I had the privilege of speaking at the Eagle Pointe/Lifebridge churches’ Men’s Conference. Something that seems to keep coming up in these conferences — including the BE STRONG conference at SWO — is the fact that when we look in scripture, God demands MUCH from men. We also see that God always works first to lead us in that which he demands from us.
For instance, in the garden of Eden before Adam is ever created, God had already prepared the garden and given creation everything it needed to be sustained. God did not NEED Adam. Rather, Adam was given the opportunity to “work and keep” the garden. This was an opportunity to take an active role in the work of the Lord by tending the garden and providing for the wife God had given him. In doing this, Adam had the ultimate platform to reflect God’s glory through his obedience. But rather than fulfill God’s call for his marriage, Adam perverted it by NOT obeying all God had called him to do.
In marriage, and in singleness, God is always working to reveal and reflect His glory. He brings us into the work that He intends to do. In submitting to God, I have the opportunity to reflect the glory of God and to live out the Gospel in my marriage. The marriage relationship God has given to me is my “Eden.” I am called to “work and keep” it. God has already prepared and done the work. Do I strive to reflect that or do I pervert it with my own selfishness?
That’s a good question.