by Kelly Rose, Covenant OPC, Orland Park, IL (August 2015)
Every summer, a short-term missions team made up of students from the Presbytery of the Midwest gathers for the “Venture Missions” project, held on the Menominee and Stockbridge Indian Reservations in Zoar, Wisconsin (sponsored by two OP churches located there). The team is first trained, and then prepares, promotes, and presents a Vacation Bible School (VBS) on each reservation – all in the course of one week! Much relies on the maturity and initiative of the team members, many of whom have served year after year and have grown both in their commitment to missions and their love for the children they meet.
Here are testimonials from a few of this year’s team members:
A Blessing in So Many Ways
Lydia Fudge (Age 15)
Apple Valley Presbyterian Church, Appleton, WI
The Venture Missions ministry in the Menominee Indian reservation is as much a blessing for the students leading VBS as it is for the kids that attend. I can say this from now two years of experience. For me, someone with not as much of an opportunity to minister to people at home, this was a great leap out of my comfort zone, and it really pushed my boundaries mentally and emotionally. Despite this, the amazing fellowship with other believers and the experience and growth I gain from this trip is unparalleled and priceless, and it can only come from God above. This entire experience has been such a blessing in so many ways, both for my relationships with people in my own culture and in a different one and with my own God. It’s such a beautiful thing to witness and be a part of, and I am so blessed to have been able to do so.
A Certain Peace
Josh Bootsma (Age 20)
Bethel Presbyterian Church, Wheaton, IL
Embarking for my fourth time on the Venture Missions trip to Zoar, WI, I had my doubts if there was much left for me to experience in the far north of Wisconsin. Those doubts soon dissolved into a satisfaction unlike any I have had in years past. This year, God gave me a certain peace in my work on the Menominee reservation. The pressure that I had previously felt to “get people into the kingdom” was replaced by the knowledge that God is the one who brings salvation, not me. What a comfort it is to know that God can work even through my simple, inaccurate, inadequate, wrongly motivated presentation of the gospel to plant even the smallest of seeds in the hearts of the children to whom I spoke. Thus I was deeply humbled not by the pressure to “save the soul” of this or that child, but by the idea that God would be pleased to include me in His process of salvation at all.
Oh, The Joy That Filled My Heart
Alyssa Jackson (Age 18)
Grace Presbyterian Church, Springfield, IL
This year at Venture Missions Zoar, I met little Miss Emma. She’s a beast at running, and every other sport ever. But more importantly, she had open ears, mind, and heart to the gospel. Sharing the love of Christ is an amazing thing. I am ever grateful that God can decide to use us as instruments in His plan of salvation. Oh, the joy that filled my heart. Nothing can compare. Though we as a team have only a few days to share the gospel with so many kids, the Lord definitely uses that time. I have witnessed this continually over the past six years I have done Venture Missions Zoar. The most amazing thing is seeing the same children return year after year. Then the few days add up, and the seed continues to grow. It has been a blessing to witness this growth over the past six years. The fellowship of the team is also a great encouragement to me. Coming from a smaller church, it is a great blessing to have befriended so many young people in the OPC over the last few years. I have built friendships that will last a lifetime. I thank God for the opportunities He has granted through Venture Missions Zoar, and I pray the mission will continue for years to come.