2016 is shaping up to be a dynamic year for Iris Abilene: Camp Barkeley. Our apologies for those who were unable to properly open our Christmas letter. To recap in brief, we are excited to embark on the addition of 3 more schools to this year’s schedule. Catch the Fire’s Leadership School of Ministry, Restoring the Foundations’ Intensive School, and Iris Global’s Disaster Response Mission School will all be held at Camp Barkeley in partnership with Iris Abilene: Camp Barkeley. We are also expanding our Iris Global School with an additional four-week cross-cultural component with another partner ministry, Kaleo International. And last but not least, we are starting up our Residential Missionary Initiative. The focus of this initiative is to give practical experience and further training in missions, and to bless and pour into our local community here in Abilene, Texas.
God once again has expressed His loving kindness towards us here at Iris Abilene: Camp Barkeley. He has done so many things this month, from provision in many different ways, to just showing us in nature His majesty. We are so thankful this season for a God that loves to display His goodness to those that He loves.
This last month has been filled with the goodness and the kindness of God!! We had the honor of hosting a group of about forty 6th graders from Beltway Park for their weekend retreat. The weekend was filled with fun and inspiration to be intentional in community, not only with the body of Christ but with Christ Himself, the Holy Spirit, and Daddy God. We Desire to see the generations released into their destiny and to see the true sons and daughters rise up and bring forth the Kingdom of God, as the revelation of son-ship is solidified in their hearts. Jesus did just that in the 6th graders that came!! They reminded us of the simplicity of the gospel, that is, to receive love than give it away freely.
Reflections of a Disaster Junky
Imagine if you will, I’m sitting in a circle of chairs at a support group meeting. It is my turn to introduce myself and I stand to my feet and declare: “Hello, my name is Esther Kissell and I am a disaster junky”. The group responds with a resounding “Hello Esther”! From the time I took my first job with the American Red Cross in Wyoming until this very day the Lord has given me an indescribable passion to share the disaster preparedness message with all I come in contact with! Shamefully I admit that much of the time sharing the message of disaster preparedness comes easier to me than sharing the good news of Jesus Christ. But that is the beauty of how God works! Just over 3 years ago, God led me to an organization called Global Samaritan Resources in Abilene, Texas where I could share my faith and my passion at the same time!
A radical place of intimacy, requiring no holding back. "This last five weeks has wrecked my old life". I was describing the camp to a friend and realized It was a five week intensive care heart surgery. Each participant voluntarily applied, payed their fees, traveled and bunked with mostly strangers. There we became camp buddies and close friends, even intimate friends in transformational life.
I was pressed to go deeper for His peace in unsettling classes created to go into uncharted personal issues. Each day another challenge. Could I rise to the challenge of others schedules, could I keep my grace and love when 'my' seat was taken, 'my' space was invaded again? Could I listen, taking in the implications of Restoring The Foundations (RTF) teaching and be totally honest and totally real? With no place to hide and no way to evade the issues of tight time frames and tight living, it was community at its potential best or worst. We walked the large camp grounds and spent more and more time in prayer and intro-spection processing the great lessons.
Missionaries and those who desire to be, we were a broad group. From age 6 years old to over 60. Families, singles and married couples, the CB1 family spent 5 days together each week with occasional weekend excursions as well. Even our off hours were spent in smaller groups getting the laundry done, making our shopping trips work for many in one van or car.
From 5 intensive weeks in class room instruction to two + weeks on the streets of inner city Jackson Mississippi. 12 of us crammed into a van and trekked the 9 hours across three states to WeWillGo ministries. David and Amy Lancaster are saints committed to loving the lost, homeless, and addicted of Jackson MS. They have stories of living in the hood these past 10 years that rival bush bush.
We put in our plows and worked side by side reaching out to these dear souls Jesus died for. He loves them and I was pressed to look beyond their exterior to love them like I want to be loved. Hugging a derelict woman known to have mental issues, I was constantly pushing my old limits of trust and love. She had a story just like so many. Its not what you think.