As we passed building after building of broken windows and shops gone out of business, I knew this was not your average, small (American) town.
All hope seemed lost.
And yet the gorgeous river and beautiful rolling hills told a very different story. One of hope. Of what could be. Of what once was.
We arrived at the tiny little church, surrounded by a sea of run-down trailer homes, filled with endless amounts of junk and people sitting on their porches (in their pajamas) in the middle of the day. No jobs. No self worth. No hope.
Why did God bring us here? How were we going to reach these people?
The odds just kept stacking up against us as we attended the evening worship service of the church that was housing us (and helping promote our ministry that week), only to find there were just 5 people there besides our crew. All of whom were actually from the sister church in the next town over.
This coupled with the fact that the other church in town told us flat out that they would not help promote our ministry, made for a very bleak outlook.
A dying church. With a dying mission. In a dying community.
We came to run basketball camps and and to lead bible studies. To share the hope of Christ with those who may have never even heard his name before. And yet all hope seemed lost.
How would the kids in this community know about the camps? And even if they did hear, who would get off their porch, feed them and bring them? Did they even own cars?
We canvased the neighborhoods. We passed out flyers. We offered rides and anything we could think of to get kids to come to our (free) camps and to get their parents to come to our bible studies.
But nothing seemed to work.
Our fears were confirmed the first day of camp when we only had a handful of kids in each one. And no parents in the bible studies.
It was still worth it, we told ourselves. We poured out the love of Christ onto the ones who were there.
And then we did the only thing we knew to do when all hope seems lost.
We got on our knees.
You should never let adversity get you down
-- except on your knees.
"Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray."
We gave it to God. We had done all that we knew to do. We had answered His call to go. We had prepared and we had spread the word.
We did not have the power to get kids there. We did not have the power to change lives. We did not have the power to bring hope. It would have to be God working through us.
"The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still."
When we step out in faith, God does the work for us. And boy did he come through.
We showed up at camp the next day and the kids started coming in droves...3,4,5 times the amount we had the first day.
The churches wouldn't help us, so God used the schools. The superintendent of the school district actually sent out a district wide message telling all families about our camps AND the bible studies.
Nothing is too big for our God.
We saw about 75 different kids (and their families) that week. The gospel message (of salvation through Christ alone) was presented every day. We know of (at least) 12 who put their faith and trust in Christ.
We witnessed miracles. And God whispered in our ears once again, "do you trust Me?"
About the Author: Erin Vick Franklin is the founder and director of Worthy of the Prize. Erin has a BBA in Marketing and Management from TCU and a Masters of Christian Education in Church Recreation from Southwestern Seminary. She is a published, award-winning author and poet. Purchase her book Worthy of the Prize Sports Camps: A Church's Guide to Implementing an Effective, Community-Reaching Christian Sports Camp to be used as an outreach tool for your church or mission organization. Erin is the wife of A, a Worship Pastor, and a work-at-home-momma to 2 crazy little boys, a and e.