By: Kaleb Jentzsch
Associate Director of CIA
Picture a bridge. Yes, they come in many shapes and sizes but picture any bridge you want. Perhaps an old wooden covered bridge that has warning signs like “foot traffic only” or “only one vehicle at a time”. It could be an old one lane stone bridge. It could be the great suspension bridges of New York or San Francisco. Any bridge will do because whatever the bridge type they have the same purpose. To connect things. To connect two parts of a city, to connect pieces of land over a waterway, or to connect the ends of a gorge. Recently, I was able to see how our Joy El Generation programs, Bible Adventure and CIA (Christians in Action), connect children to Jesus Christ and to His body, the church.
As part of my role, I have had the opportunity to connect with volunteers and observe CIA programs in south central Pennsylvania and West Virginia before they closed for the summer. I was reflecting on one recent visit I made to the Warm Springs CIA program. I arrived at the church where the program is held and observed the staff meeting and devotions before the children arrived. Then, as the children began to arrive, I noticed one girl who looked vaguely familiar come through the door but I could not figure out how I knew her. She seemed to recognize me also and yet the cloud in my mind lingered.
Then it clicked, she was a camper from summer camp last summer. I had Jaquelin and about sixteen other middle school campers at Wilderness Camp during summer of 2020 when I was the Wilderness Camp Coordinator. We shared some great memories together and I quizzed her on a few things we learned during that week. It was such an encouraging experience. It filled my heart with joy to reconnect and reflect on what God had done during that week of summer camp.
Near the end of the CIA program that day I asked her more about her family and life during the past year. What I found out shocked me. She said that her parents did not attend church anywhere and, though they allowed her to participate in Joy El programs, did not seem to know the Lord. “This is my church”, she told me, referring to the volunteers and other CIA students. For this student, CIA is their only consistent opportunity to connect with God and other followers of Jesus! Wow!
That was when I more fully grasped the value of the work we do. I get to be a part of connecting children and teens to the body of Christ, the Church, and for some this is the only connection they have to the local church. I desire to help more children and teens like them to attend CIA! The many volunteers who serve in Bible Adventure and CIA are a big part of this “connection” process. We are so grateful!
No one can survive spiritually on their own. No Christian can be a lone ranger. All believers need the body to love and obey God (Hebrews 10:24-25). I thank God for the bridge that we at Joy El can be for those without the body of Christ by plugging them into a loving body of believers.
- Summer Day Camps
- Summer Wilderness Camps
- Summer Overnight Camps
- Mother Daughter Retreat (October 8-10)
- Father Son Retreat (November 12-14)
- Bring your own group to Joy El