08 Jun

GLACIER VIEW RANCH IS GROWING

RMCNews with Brandon Westgate – Ward, Colorado … Glacier View Ranch is expanding its facilities by beginning construction on the first new building project since 1995.

Rocky Mountain Conference administration, youth department personnel, and GVR staff assembled on June 3 for the groundbreaking ceremony on the 10-thousand square foot maintenance building, which will protect maintenance equipment from the weather. The building is part of a larger plan to protect and preserve the equipment used at GVR for maintaining the property and the road.

“This has been needed for a long time. The equipment at GVR will be preserved more effectively by having this building,” said Sam Hasty, associate director of camp ministries.

Echoing Hasty’s sentiments, Dan Hansen, GVR camp ministries director, said that putting everything away will “…add to the aesthetics of camp and make things more organized.”

Assistant youth director Jessyka Dooley said the building is “a beautiful balance between fun and the practical of what’s needed.”

Reflecting on the first construction project in nearly 30 years, Darin Gottfried, RMC vice president of finance and GVR board chair, explained that RMC members made it possible. “This is a much-needed facility for GVR. The faithfulness of the people in the RMC has made the funding for this project possible. I am continually amazed by the stewardship of the people of this conference.”

This construction is one-way RMC members are meeting the practical needs at GVR. “This building will extend the life of the tools and equipment at GVR, which will make us better managers of the resources allocated for ministry here. If we don’t have to use the funds here to replace equipment as often, then we can use those funds to further enhance the mission of RMC,” said Doug Inglish, RMC vice president of administration.

Mic Thurber, RMC president, is also grateful for the faithful giving by church members. “Our people have consistently demonstrated that they are not only interested in, but supportive of, youth ministry. This is just one more demonstration of their commitment to make sure we have the tools needed to reach our youth with the message of hope and salvation in Jesus.”

Reflecting on Thurber’s comments, Brandon Westgate, RMC youth director, said, “This is ultimately what all this is about.”   He added, “As a youth department, our goal is to minister to the youngest members of our RMC family. To do that, we need a place not only to facilitate spiritual conversations but also a place that creates opportunities for young people to experience joy and fellowship while they learn what it means to have a relationship with Jesus. We are fortunate to have GVR and MSR in our conference as ministry locations whose primary purpose is to help our youth discover and develop their personal walk with Jesus.”

— RMCNews with Brandon Westgate, RMC youth director; photo by Mic Thurber

26 May

COMMENTARY: MAKING SENSE OF A SENSELESS ACT

By Brandon Westgate — School shooting. Two words that simply do not belong adjacent to one another in the same sentence, and yet we find ourselves wrestling with the loss of both innocents and innocence once again. The senseless loss of life in that small town school in Uvalde, Texas has left us stunned, heartbroken, and angry.

Stunned because these acts of violence against the youngest members of our society seem to hit us differently as we come to grips with the reality of human, sinful nature. The depths to which humanity has fallen and just how evil man can be is revealed through these heinous acts. To think that someone could rob a child of their most precious right, the opportunity to grow up and realize their full potential, is devastating and can shake us to our core.

Our hearts break not only as we contemplate the loss of innocent children but as we also realize that the siblings, parents, and extended families of these victims are grieving in a way that makes condolences, however sincere they may be expressed, seem trivial. As emotions swell, our grief and frustration can quickly devolve into anger towards the person responsible for committing such a heartless act of unfettered hostility.

So, what are we to do?

How are we to respond in a way that is healthy?

How can we make sense of such evil that was intentionally focused on these children?

To simply say this is a fallen world we live in or that evil is being unfettered among us, so that we should expect things like this, doesn’t help much. While these statements may be true in some way, they offer minimal comfort to those who are mourning and to those seeking a real answer to these complex issues.

It is true that we are living in unprecedented times. In Matthew 24, Jesus was asked what it would be like prior to His return. In verse 12, Matthew quotes Jesus as saying, “And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.”

It would be easy for us to take that one verse and find a measure of justification for the evil that seems to rule the day. But in taking such a stance, where is the hope for the future? I speak of the hope that each one of us possesses, the hope that gives us the motivation to plan and dream and live our best life with assurance and confidence?

This may be an excellent time to remind one another that our hope does not come through legislation that may or may not be enacted. Our hope does not come through who governs us locally or nationally. Our hope does not come from what great things we might do as a nation.

Our hope comes from the power of God, given us through the Holy Spirit, who both inspires and empowers every believer to good works. Hope from God pours out of the heart of every sincere believer, and that God-fueled hope is felt in the hearts of others who have been impacted by it.

You see, Jesus didn’t stop His statement in Matthew 24 with a message of doom. He continued His thought in that very next verse, “But he (or she) who endures to the end shall be saved.”

Jesus knew that we would face challenging moments such as these inexplicable acts of violence which rob children of their innocence. But He wraps up his thought here with a message of hope. Yes, we live in a sin-sick world. Yes, sometimes it appears as though evil has won the day.  But Jesus offers hope to every person with a promise of eternal comfort.

These present events serve as a stark reminder of the contrast between the present world we occupy and the promised world that will ultimately be our forever home. While we are here, it is the heart-filled actions of believers that push back against the tide of evil.

We are to overcome evil with good. As we collaborate with Jesus, we offer comfort and hope to one another so that every selfless act of kindness serves as a reminder that the God of mercy has an ultimate plan to save all who come to Him by faith.

Even so, come Lord Jesus!

–Brandon Westgate is RMC youth director; photo by Brandon Westgate

10 Mar

Serving, Socializing, Seeking, Seeing

Editor’s note: Brandon Westgate, RMC’s newly-appointed youth director, shares his vision and outlook for the youth department.

By Brandon Westgate …

Serving (How can we help?)

The youth department exists to serve the youth and young adults of the churches in the Rocky Mountain Conference. They are the epicenter of activity and engagement. We desire to help equip, encourage, and inspire local leaders to create opportunities for the youth and young adults to grow in their faith walk with Jesus.

This includes promoting local events and organizing larger conference-sponsored events like Greater Summit and our summer camp program. We are here for you. Please reach out and let us know how we can help.

Socializing (Let’s hang out!)

Many of our young people have been impacted by the challenges brought on by Covid-19. Aside from the virus itself, these younger church members have been exposed to bickering in their own homes, local churches, and schools about mask mandates, vaccines, and social distancing. They have been witnesses to the divisive results of political and social agendas perpetrated by well-intentioned older saints within our midst.

The results are that some families that socialized together no longer invest in one another, and our younger members feel caught in the middle. Many of these are left trying to navigate the emotional minefield that lost friendships (due to grown-ups isolating from one another) have brought about.

This is one reason why creating opportunities for our youth to interact in a non-threatening environment is vital. This is the key to building a solid faith-based community. We are social creatures, and the younger we are, the more we need positive social interactions to nurture healthy development. Events like Greater Summit and our summer camp programs at Mills Spring Ranch and Glacier View Ranch and grassroots gatherings such as MVMNT events work together to foster continued spiritual growth for our younger members.

Seeking (You find what you seek!)

Speaking of summer camp ministry, preparations for summer camp are already underway. The RMC youth department is busy at our camps, hosting various groups and readying the facilities for the 2022 summer camp season. We are planning an impactful program for the young people who are fortunate enough to find themselves at summer camp. Our theme this year is “WILD.” We will focus primarily on the story of Ruth and hope to bring out of that story some wild aspects, including Ruth’s WILD commitment and her WILD faith.

A big piece of our summer camp program is making sure we have a motivated and spirit-filled summer camp staff.  If you or someone you know is 18+ or a graduating high school senior and would like to be involved in the summer camp ministry, visit  https://www.rmcyouth.org/summerstaff, where you will find an application to be part of something WILD!

Seeing (I see you!)

You may be reading this and are wondering, “How can I help?” First, pray for and with the young people you know. Prayer is a powerful, yet underutilized tool. Second, as you see youth events scheduled, please make sure that you prioritize these times so that our young people can engage with their peers in healthy, safe spaces. If needed, perhaps you can help with funding or by providing transportation, or even by providing refreshments (hint: pizza is always a win). And please remember to take some time and engage a younger church member in a conversation. Make them feel seen and they will feel like they belong!

Regardless of age, we are all in this together. So, let us press together to equip and inspire our youth to contribute their energy and talents to spread the gospel message of grace in our homes, churches, and communities.

–Brandon Westgate is RMC youth director; photo supplied