In June 2022, we welcomed forty-three youth along with numerous families to Victory Acres Farm for our third annual Nehemiah Discipleship Program Experience. It was an intense time of work, training, and discipleship. On one project teams worked together to blaze a trail that future ministry guests will enjoy. Other teams worked on painting cabins and numerous agricultural tasks. Each afternoon participants spent time with skilled mentors in hands on “life skills” training. Breadmaking, culinary arts, excavating, welding, logging and milling wood, childcare and evangelism, hand therapy, and videography were our training opportunities this year. (We hope to expand as we have skilled mentors in other areas in the future.) Getting a taste of a new vocation was a “lightbulb moment” for more than one young person.

Our morning training focused on missions and evangelism, emphasizing our theme “Ministry is life, and we are all ministers of God’s Reconciliation.” Each evening we heard an inspiring message from Dr. Matt Hallam as we gathered under the “big tent.” His insights and winsome, caring heart were a blessing to us all. God used the Hallam family in a wonderful way.

Sunday was a day of celebration – Pentecost Sunday, the 5th Anniversary of The Gathering, our congregation at Victory Acres, and the final day of NDP with nearly 100 people present. What a blessing! After service and a meal of chicken and noodles, we held our annual prayer walk of the farm. We walked as a group to the various areas where we had been working, shared stories of God’s provision, and prayed God’s blessing over our work and the farm. As we came to the end of the new trail that the group had blazed, I reflected that this trail is a little like ministry. “Few others who come later will know the blood, sweat and tears that this crew put into making this trail happen,” I said, “Others may come along later and add to it or make it better. They may criticize it, but they won’t know the challenges you faced in getting it to this point.”  I asked Joe Reimann, our first intern and EFM missionary in Cincinnati, to pray for this area, and he picked up on that theme in his prayer. “God, help us to be grateful for those who have come before us and blazed the trails for us in ministry. May we not criticize and say ‘I wonder why they left that stump there?’ But instead let us be thankful that there is a trail.”

I am grateful. I stand on the shoulders of generations who faithfully followed God’s plan, and I have a heritage to share with a new generation. There is a trail because of them.

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