Update: Camp Season in Full Force

In the middle of her other duties, Petra joined our Royal Ranger fire breathing workshop
We're right in the middle of our first camp season as the official hosts and organizers. Because of her 20 years of experience, the brunt of the logistical details fall on Petra's shoulders. It has certainly been a challenge but the fit is perfect; no one else has the combination of experience, skill and knowledge she has, and she immensely enjoys the job. This picture seems like an appropriate symbol for the numerous and diverse roles she has at camp. 

Here's a quick look back at the first three weeks of camp. 

2 weeks of kids camps - Evangelism One of the highlights of this years' kids camps is that we saw an increased number of non-churched children. Some of them come from abusive situations. For many of them, this is the first time they've been in a supportive atmosphere. The Good News they hear is very attractive because its accompanied by friendly faces and positive attention. Please pray for the Lord's continued work in their lives and protection as they return back to their less than ideal living situation. 

Young Adult Camp - Discipleship Our speaker this year was a professor from the seminary in Osijek who led the young people in studying the Bible. Our job in small groups was to find the exegetical and theological points of our assigned passages. During the evening sessions he taught on the Kingdom of Heaven using the parables in Matthew 13. There is no doubt we benefitted from meditating on a specific text for a week. At the end, one of the women in my small group remarked "I never knew the Bible was so deep!" 

Obviously, the fact that both dad and mom are so involved in camp means the kids are too. 

David enjoys playing guitar with one of the worship leaders

As you read this, teen camp is happening. At 90 teenagers + 20 staff this is the largest teen camp Orahovica has seen. To this point, things are going smoothly. One of the reasons we were able to accept all the campers who applied is because we have plenty of volunteers to serve. For example, a family from Serbia who came as participants last week are volunteering as cleaners this week.

Kamp Orahovica
Besides the prayer requests mentioned above, the biggest thing you can pray for right now is for several people to volunteer to help in the kitchen and clean next week at Family Camp. One of the special things about camp is that no one is paid. It has been amazing for me (Jeremy) to see how many wonderful people are willing to give up their vacation time to volunteer at these camps. Just to give you an idea, in the picture below are many of the volunteers. These people standing in front of our church are from other parts of Croatia and stayed between young adult camp and teen camp to help serve. Here they are being prayed for by several members of our church during last Sunday morning's service. 

Thank you for your continued partnership with us as we strive to evangelize and disciple through camps this summer.

In Christ,

The Bohalls

Keep It Going

I flew into Buffalo, NY late Saturday night and drove with my parents to a skilled nursing facility where my grandparents live. I had come to the States for one reason - to join the celebration of my grandparents' 70th anniversary. It had been a last-minute decision, so it came as a surprise to my grandparents.

As I sat with my grandmother while the others were preparing for the party, I asked her if she had any advice for those of us with less experience.

"Keep it going," she said simply. Then a few minutes later I overheard a conversation my grandfather was having with one of the guests. Upon learning that they were celebrating their 40th anniversary on the same day, he said "Keep it going." Hearing the same words from the two people who have kept it going for 70 years made an impression on me.

In fact, the more I thought about the message I realised there were two very important implications. First was the obvious one: commitment. In our 10 years of marriage Petra and I have had many wonderful moments mixed with several difficult times. Certainly God provides grace for us to get through the difficult moments, but there's also the need for determination and perseverance on our own part.

The words don't just apply to marriage. Grandma's words echoed several passages in the New Testament.

...Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us . . . (Heb. 12)

...straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on . . .  (Philippians 3)

But there was another thing I heard in my grandparents words. Keep it going to future generations. My grandparents' 70 years of marriage conveys to their children and their children's children the importance of commitment. It's a value often lost or taken for granted. Her challenge to me was to continue passing on the tremendous virtue of commitment. 

The overall focus of our ministry in Croatia is discipleship. Our passion is to see kids and teenagers grow in their desire to be committed followers of Jesus Christ. During this particular season we've had a tremendous opportunity to work closely with these young teenagers. Our goal is to see them pass on the good news to their friends and model discipleship for future generations. 

"Keep it going" is very much dependent on prayer. Your prayers for each of the individuals in this picture is much appreciated. Please also pray for our family as we're in the middle of the busiest season of the year - camp. There are several requests on the right side of this site, but if you're interested in praying more specifically we would love to send you a list of how you can pray for each week of camp. You can write to us at jeremy.bohall@gmail.com.

Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever.  Amen. 

Pushed to the Extreme

“One of the goals of Royal Rangers is to push you to your limit” our regional leader explained to us during a preparatory training session. “You never know how you’re going to react in extreme circumstances unless you’ve been pushed to your extreme ahead of time.” 

This would be my third National Training Camp (NTC). My first was in Serbia as a participant. Last year I hosted and shadowed the leader so I would be prepared to lead in the future. This year the responsibility fell on me. Although I felt inadequate to lead, especially knowing my greatest weakness - public speaking in Croatian - would be exposed, I didn’t expect to be pushed to any particular extreme. 

Throughout the camp I felt even more sure that this training would pass without any major challenge. In comparison with the flood-like conditions and my lack of experience last year, this year’s added experience plus perfect weather and the number of leaders supporting our effort, convinced me that this would pass without difficulty. 

Then came Sunday morning. The finish line was ahead of us. Our award ceremony/church service would conclude the weekend and I felt okay. But as I began watching the slideshow summary of the weekend with the rest of the congregation tears began to well up. “What’s this?” I asked myself, stepping out of the sanctuary to collect myself before giving a report of the weekend.

I stood up to say how overwhelmed I was with thankfulness and nothing came out. I choked. This had never happened to me, in public or private. Another leader quickly took over and the show went on. But after the whole camp was over I had to process the whole event. 

In retrospect, I had been pushed to my limit. Physically I hadn’t slept more than five hours a night for the last six nights - a very unusual occurrence for me. When I stepped on the scale on Sunday afternoon I realised I had lost three kilos - six pounds - since Thursday. Although I hadn’t run or physically exerted myself as much as I have at other times, various things took their physical toll on me. 

Mentally I was spent as well. From preparing lectures and workshops to simply trying to give directions to convey what needed to happen in my second language was more of a burden than I expected. 

Spiritually I had been seeking God’s help more than I have in a long time. How would these details be taken care of? Would everyone be safe? What if this happened…or that? The responsibility of 38 people fell on my shoulders for the first time in my life and I pleaded with God for help much more often than I normally do. 

Finally, I had been pushed to my emotional limit. Throughout the weekend I had witnessed the growth of several of the young teenagers I work with. Additionally, leaders had come from Germany, Macedonia, Serbia, Slovenia and the other side of Croatia to support our efforts. God had rained down his mercy upon this camp in the very practical forms of leadership, experience and support. And when I saw the evidence of it at the end, I couldn’t hold it in.

The point is, I was pushed to the limit. 

Isn’t that what we need? As a church, I believe we’re at our worst when we’re comfortable. Throughout the Bible, God’s people are called to serve the Lord with their heart, soul, mind and strength. How do we do so without being pushed to the extreme in each of those areas from time to time? Royal Rangers is a wholistic ministry aiming to equip men and women of God physically, mentally, socially and spiritually. Part of this equipping means challenging each individual in all four of these aspects of their life. 

In the end, I consider the training session a success. All of our goals were met, and teenagers and adults alike had been trained. And because of the number of eager leaders, beautiful weather and lack of unexpected obstacles, it was an enjoyable experience for many of us. 

But the greatest success was that many of us were pushed to our limit. This, I believe is an invaluable part of becoming and making disciples of Jesus Christ. 

“But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 3:13b-14)