Sometimes I think there’s nothing like a good, swarthy sailor greeting. But that’s not why I’m writing to you. I want to tell you a story.Months ago, I went to a play at the International School of Kenya. For those of you that don’t know, ISK is the school that I have been visiting at lunch periods and coaching at for the past year so I can get to know the students better and share my life with them. This particular play was filled, not only with kids (not goats) that I had met at the school, but also with some of the kids (also not goats) that came to camp the previous year, some of whom stayed in my cabin. The focus of the story is not those kids. The focus of this story is Elbar. Elbar, cousin of Omer, older brother of Yatir and Liav, son of his parents, all of whom are Jewish, all of whom came to camp. But I’m getting ahead of myself... Where was I? Ah yes!
So, I walk into the ISK Middle School production of “30 Reasons Not To Be In A Play” and quickly find a seat. Low and behold who should sit behind me, but Omer and his cousin Elbar. I had talked with Omer quite a few times during lunch visits in the past, but I’d never really spoken to Elbar for any length of time before then. I struck up a conversation with Omer that gradually turned toward the topic of Camp BlueSky. I was relentless as I spoke of all the great things that would be going on there. Apparently I did a good job; not only was Omer’s interest piqued, Elbar was leaning out of his seat with excitement. (I later came to find out that that is how he almost always looked, but at the time it was quite encouraging.)
Skip ahead a bit. Over the next few weeks as I came and went from ISK on lunch visits or days when I was coaching, I would see Elbar walking down the sidewalks and ask if he had signed up for camp yet, generally met with a hesitant “Not yet.” Followed by a “Will there be any other high schoolers there?” He really wanted to go, but I was never sure if he would.
Camp begins. Session two rolls around, which is the week for all the ISK students to show up. I’m flipping my lid. All around camp are students that I’ve been pouring into for the last year. I love these kids. I’m so excited to finally be able to speak the gospel to them. All those lunches were pointing toward this week. God is working. Elbar walks into camp with nervous excitement not knowing what to expect. I remember, he asked me, “So when you guys pray before meals, what should I do? Just stand on the side?” I laughed and shrugged off the question, not really knowing how to answer him. I had no idea how he was going to react to camp.
One of the awesome ways that God decided to work that week was to put one of the high schoolers that meets in my small group, Brian, into his cabin. Short note on Brian: he is a solid young man of God, whom I have come to respect more and more the longer I’ve known him, and he can play the drums like no one I’ve ever met. Brian plays a big part come Wednesday night of camp.
What happens on Wednesday night is a scripture reading and a brief drama of the passion of Christ. Every other night of camp is fun-filled and personal story oriented from our camp leadership team, but this night is much different. We sit the kids (still not goats) in their age groups, ask them not to talk, and play music with a solid gospel message as their counselors pray for them for a few minutes outside of our meeting room. It sets the mood so that they have no idea what’s happening, but know that it’s important. As the scripture is read of Jesus’ trial and beating, one of the leadership team (who looked more like Jesus than any of us) would play the role of our previously beaten Lord as he carried his cross to the front of the room. As he walked, those of us that didn’t have a particular Jewish bent to our features would walk beside him whispering insults and gradually raising our voices till we were practically yelling at him that he was going to fail and die. When he reached the front of the room, he would drop the cross and we would show the clip from the Chronicles of Narnia where the White Witch kills Aslan. Afterwards, all the campers would go sit beneath the stars thinking about what they had just seen as counselors would walk around explaining what had just happened and what it means in one-on-one conversations. I never imagined the power that night would have each week.
I walked into the field, after having carried out other duties, to see if I could find some of the kids I’d come to know and love. As I approached the very outskirts of the field, which was scattered with whispering groups, I saw two people waving at me to come near. It was Brian and Elbar. As I sat down, Brian looked at Elbar and said, “You can tell him, he’s cool.” Elbar, sheepishly grinning, responded, “No, you tell him.” “Are you sure you don’t want to?”Asked Brian. “Yeah, you tell him.” Said Elbar finally. At this point, I kind of picked up on what was happening, and my heart started doing cartwheels. Brian told me, “Elbar prayed to believe in Jesus!” I threw all pretense of thoughtful quietness to the wind and started laughing while I tackled Elbar in an embrace. I hardly knew this kid. I spoke to him maybe five times, and now he is going to be partyin’ with Jesus and me for eternity! I told him right then and there that he was going to have to start praying with us at meal times. And then Brian went and made me love him even more when he invited Elbar to join our small group. God was working in a huge way that night.
I don’t know if I’ve ever felt more like I was where God wanted me to be then I did right there in that moment. All of it lined up. It was beautiful.
After that Elbar started telling us not to tell anyone because he was afraid of what his family might think. We assured him that we would let him tell his family on his own time, but that we would be there with him for whenever he needs us. Later that night, Yatir, Elbar’s sister, told me that she had become a believer. Well what do you think of that? Elbar was gaining allies by the minute. I didn’t get to talk with Omer or Liav that night, but I know I will see them when I visit ISK, and furthermore, God is already at work within their families. As the evening came to a close and the Leadership team gathered to retell stories of the recently found lost, our battle cry became “God Redeems Families!!!!” It was a sweet time of worship.
The rest of the week finished strong. We told all the campers of their sin, what the price was for it, and how to live in the light of that Truth. So many more stories of impact and life changing moments came from that week alone. If I were to try to write out all the stories from camp, my fingers would give out, but I needed to share that story. I needed to share that story for more than just so you can rejoice with me in the work of God. I’m also telling you because I promised Elbar that I would be here for him for one more year. But I’m running out of support.
I had told you all in my first support letter that I would be here for only 15 months. But I’m realizing more and more that God wants me to be here longer. There is still work to do. The only problem is, I can’t fund myself. The price of living is increasing, and as it does so do my support needs. For this next year, I will need to raise $1,500 a month. That’s more than what I was asking for last year, but I truly believe this is worth it.
He is still using me to bring his kingdom into this dark city. Lives are being changed, kids (even now, not goats) are confronted with the gospel for the first time and seeking more. I am confident that God has called me to be here with them as they try to figure out who God has called them to be. He is bringing the Kingdom. Please help me to be a part of this truly awesome work.
Ways You Can Support
(or The Cliff-notes Version of the Above Letter)
- Pray for the students in Nairobi. Pray for their families, for their time at camp or various other activities during the school year, that they would hear God’s word and know God’s love. Pray that the gospel would take hold of their hearts.
- Pray for Camp BlueSky and all the other avenues of ministry that BlueSky provides: Adventures, Climb, and Youth. Pray for the support needed for all the staff. Pray for safety throughout the year. Pray every time you think about how Blue the Sky is. Pray whenever you see a giraffe, zebra, or lion on the TV (or real life). Pray!
- Support financially. Give a one time donation or go for the long haul and commit to giving $100 (or some other amount) monthly until August 2013. You can give a couple different ways:
- Online: at www.blueskyglobal.org there is a link to “Give” which will allow you to give either a recurring amount, or, if you scroll further down, a one time amount. You can use paypal or use a credit card. Make sure to specify it’s for me (Bryce Wilkins) in the “specify person or project” section.
- By Mail: Send a check to this address:900 Westpark Drive · Suite 300
Peachtree City, GA 30269
Fill it out to “BlueSky” and make sure to put my name (Bryce Wilkins) on the memo line.
- Pray even more. No matter how much financial support we have, our ministry is pointless without prayer.
If you have any questions feel free to contact me. I would love to talk with you in person or through any other means of communication.Cell Phone: +254787433729