“You call me Teacher and Lord, and rightly so, for that is what I am. Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet ”– John 13:13-14 “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” – Colossians 3:17
When Jesus washed his apostles’ feet, touched those declared unclean by society, and ate with tax collectors and “sinners,” he confounded many in ancient Judea who thought they understood the meaning of leadership. Over 2,000 years later, our Internet-connected, global society seems just as confused. For those who have the ears to hear and the heart to understand, Jesus clearly demonstrates the nature of a servant-leader, and His desire for us to change the world through our love for others. This year has given us a firsthand view of the power of serving. The Great Land Christian Church operates the Gateway to the Arctic Camp (G2A) and has been blessed to work with so many individuals who have the heart of a servant-leader and a desire to grow in their character. G2A is an agricultural camp with the purpose of serving the community through the donation of fresh, organic produce to local food banks and providing inclusive services and employment for individuals with special abilities. For the past five years, many have served by investing their time, energy, and resources into building the Keystone Lodge, nine cabins, a high tunnel, and maintaining our garden. Just this past summer alone, over 70 volunteers from the HOPE Volunteer Corps, HOPE Adventure Corps, and the Great Land Christian Church gave over 7,500 hours of service to continuing this legacy. In addition to our volunteer groups, eight disciples from U.S. and Canada spent three months serving as interns at G2A. They were the heart of our camp operations. These individuals grew in their character and faith as they took ownership of various construction and maintenance projects while building relationships with our workers with special abilities and other volunteers. The impact of so many people with a heart to make a difference is apparent in what was accomplished. In the summer of 2018, we achieved the following:
- Harvested and donated more than 500 lbs. of organic produce to local food banks
- Planned and executed four inclusive camps for youth with special needs, one camp for Kingdom Kids, and one camp for The Boys Girls Club of Fairbanks, AK. The volunteers did a great job of developing meaningful activities for campers that were diverse in age, background, and ability.
- Led by G2A hosted the first-ever HOPE Adventure Corps. Participants learned leadership and survival skills in the Alaskan country.
- Built a spruce log fence around the Keystone Lodge, cleared a field of logs, and created an ATV trail.
- Introduced meat chickens were to the camp and built garden boxes with the goal of long-term sustainability in mind; The chickens were auctioned off to church members and the garden boxes are still available for sponsorship.
- Established a honey bee hive
- Hired eight young men with special abilities; These guys work hard and continue to demonstrate incredible, social-emotional growth by building friendships with the volunteers. Most importantly, they simply love being at G2A.