The Faith Baptist Montana Summer Mission Trip was packed full with Divine Appointments that no one in the group was really prepared for.
The two vans left the church building early on July 14, with a trailer of luggage and tents in tow.
Upon arrival in Hot Springs, (population 500, on the Flathead Reservation), the group was greeted by the host church. After the customary welcome, the road-weary troupe soon found out there was a major miscommunication - they had arrived a week earlier than was expected.
What the mission trip organizers had envisioned was having the teens staff the local church's regional "PathWalkers Camp;" a native Teepee Bible camp for grade school kids.
"So rather than staff the camp, we prayed that God would direct us to needs within the church, and the community to which our student ministry could serve, believing that it was no heavenly mistake that we had arrived a week early," wrote Pastor Phil Campbell. "It was evident that by the time we departed Hot Springs, our early schedule was right on schedule to when and where God wanted us."
In the end, the mission group encouraged the local church by helping with building projects, assisting in extensive prep for "PathWalkers Camp", visiting street-by-street and prayer-walking through town, helping an elderly lady with her garage sale, visiting the nursing home, organizing car washes with the proceeds going towards the Senior Center, assisting at the local food bank and many other projects big and small.
"By the time we left Hot Springs, we were exhausted from all of the ministry that God had led us through," continued Pastor Phil. "At the conclusion of our week, we were asked to lead the Sunday Service at Hot Springs Bible Church. The mutual [belief] was that God had orchestrated our early arrival, and we were all eagerly waiting to see how God would provide counselors for the "PathWalkers Camp," since our group would not be there to staff it."
During the service, the group discovered that another mission group from Washington State was in the area and had been ministering. This group was completing their three-year ministry plan in Plains, Montana and inquired if there was any need in Hot Springs for the following week.
"Their schedule had been cleared and they were looking to see where God would use them next," explained Pastor Phil. "The curious thing about this Washington group is that our Minnesota Team ran into them 3 years ago and prayed with them specifically over how we might do some joint ministry in the future. "
Furthermore, due to some other unforeseen circumstances, the mission group was led back to Montana a year early. The original schedule had the team rotating through Montana in 2013.
Pastor Phil had this to say on the series of events: "When we trust God to work through us, despite our circumstances and in spite of our messes, He has the power to do immeasurably more than we ask or imagine ... We at Faith Student Ministry would like to express our gratitude and praise not only to God who meets our needs, but to our network here in Park Rapids as well, which continues to support us both in prayer and resources. We are simply an extension of your ministry abroad, to which you share in the rewards."
The tired but satisfied troupe arrived back home on July 24.
In addition to Campbell, the mission team utilized the helping hands of John Schrader, Kim Johnson, Amanda Gartner, Sam Goebel, Scott Wolff, Brandy Parsons, Katie Halverson, Becka Schrader, Tasha Maninga, Andy Waller, Ben Kading, Jack Schmidgal, Jeff Johnson, C.J. Hess, Tim Johnson, Cambria Ahrendt, Allysa Day and Steven Carter.