Ministry Moment- Joel Brand

I'm a gut guy; I have seen the Holy Spirit work in incredible ways in my life, when I trust my instincts! After my senior year at North Park, I had a degree in Youth Ministry and a desire to better understand full-time camp ministry. I had worked at Covenant Pines in northern Minnesota for the past four summers, but I wanted to "spread my wings and fly" outside of my comfort zone.

So I packed up my gray Toyota Corolla with everything I owned and drove "wicked far" until the words starting losing Rs. My destination was Swanzey Lake and mission was a yearlong internship at Pilgrim Pines. During those first couple of nights I sat in my bed and thought, "What the heck have I gotten myself into?   I'm a long way from home; if this whole thing goes sour, I don't even have cell phone reception to call for help!"

But I figured nobody hates the person who works really hard. So my prayer every morning was to honor God with my work that I would do that day. I immediately started trying to win over the kitchen crew (Shawn, Jason, and the dish-pit dudes) because I knew I needed to eat for the whole year. Maintenance immediately liked me because I was 6'5 and looked quite strong (but don't judge a book by it's cover; I'm much weaker than I appear!) But it was when I got the nickname "J.B." from Jimbo that I knew I was officially "in!"

And as I look back at my year at Pilgrim Pines, I can easily say it was one of the best years of my life. It confirmed my call to ministry and also helped prepare me for my decision to attend North Park Seminary, where I am currently. I learned so much about myself, because I was constantly interacting with new people. You see, in the Midwest during my college years, I stayed within the same circles of people, so even when I met new people, it felt like they already knew me. They knew my family or knew my friends and I felt like my roles and rhythms of life were already established. I wanted to see if I truly believed in the same values and principles that had been instilled in me, or if I was just living them out, because I was a product of the system that I was in.

Time after time, I realized that the Gospel of Jesus was the same to me in New Hampshire as it was in the Midwest. I still wanted to love people, work hard and have fun. I still wanted to be transformed by the grace and mercy that I received from my Lord and Savior. I was the same person, but I was stagnant; I was growing more and more in my commitment to the Christ.

So I simply want to say "thank you" to all of you; even if I didn't get the pleasure of interacting with you personally, anyone reading this newsletter is a part of an institution that has deeply blessed me. The good news is my sister and brother-in-law, Jenna & Brad Frost, have been officially installed as co-pastors of Monadnock Covenant Church, so I will be traveling back to good old Swanzey Lake now more than ever! And as soon as I turn onto West Shore Road, I will sing the words by John Denver "Country roads take me home to the place I belong!" And I will continue to trust my gut instincts, because they sure did not let me down when they guided me to Pilgrim Pines.