Count Your Blessings
If people had the opportunity to relive 2020, I don’t think anyone would take me up on the offer. Yet, I hear people counting their blessings, the good things that have come out of the worldwide crisis. People talk about how their family life has slowed and improved dramatically. Many couples talk about improved marriages. Individuals talk about the health benefits of a more simple life. God is at work, bringing good out of hard and difficult times. People may not choose to relive 2020, but most do not wish to let go of the things they learned and the good that has come out of 2020.
This is true of Covenant Bay as well. In the midst of difficult times, God brings good things – blessings we would have never experienced without a crisis. When I was a young boy, we would sing a song in my church; do you remember the lyrics below?
“Count your blessings, name them one by one, Count your blessings, see what God has done!”
Today, I choose to count our blessings. Join me as I recount all the good God has brought this year.
A New Program Director.
In April, Bradon Pihowich, Covenant Bay’s new Program Director, stepped into his role with our entire summer on the brink of not happening. Nearly every year since 2007, I (Jon Drebert) have been in charge of the summer camp program. Without Bradon’s timely arrival and leadership, I am not sure I would have been able to pull off the summer camp program. I am so grateful to God that Bradon has joined us at Covenant Bay.
It may sound ridiculous for me to put rentals on this list of blessings since we were on track for record numbers. So, where is the blessing in all of that? Each rental group booked or nearly booked earlier this year has indicated a desire to rebook later. All the hard work is not lost; those bookings will happen one day!
In 2019 we completed (mostly) the inside of the accommodation lodge. We were ready to jump into the landscaping, except it was really wet and then by the time it dried up, we were into our summer camp season, which is not when you want to be doing landscaping work and pouring concrete. So the project was pushed back and pushed back, and then we looked to the spring of 2020 and again, the rains came, and it was even wetter in the spring and early summer of 2020. So we waited and waited.
The fall of 2020 came, and we had our opportunity. Volunteers jumped at the chance to help out. The concrete was poured for the sidewalks and lakeside patio. Keith Nelson, the Facilities Director, planted all of the shrubs, flowers, trees and installed the ground cover. When you see the lodge next summer, it will look complete because of Keith’s and others’ beautiful work. Incredibly everything was paid for by donors. Thank you, Lord.
Bible Story Podcast
Despite hosting only a fraction of the campers and retreat guests compared to a normal year, God has reached more lives through Covenant Bay in 2020 than any other year. The Bible Story Podcast has gained what we consider a sizeable audience. The Bible Story Podcast began in the Fall of 2020 and was meant to be a follow-up resource to help parents teach and grow their children in a relationship with Jesus. We did not expect the audience to grow far beyond the Covenant Bay circle and become a means for people to be introduced to Covenant Bay Bible Camp.
In our first month, October 2019, there were 141 downloads. In September of 2020, there were 3,900 downloads. Now there are many reasons to take these numbers with a grain of salt – or a lot of salt, but, for now, we are encouraged by what God is doing and thankful for his leading.
One of the groups that Covenant Bay has chosen to serve is schools. With our facility not being an option for them, we have pivoted significantly. Bradon, our program director, has written a curriculum outlining a means to be resilient and deal with change and crisis. His training as a child and youth care counsellor is a tremendous asset. Thanks to Jason, our rental Coordinator, the In-School Program is now booked through most of November, and we hope that more schools will book for future months.
Whether it is a personal crisis or a worldwide crisis like COVID 19, students need to respond to change and crisis well. 2020 has brought us a unique opportunity to love our community through this program. I believe the In-school program will remain relevant as change and crisis are always occurring, maybe not at the scale we have seen this year, but we all consistently experience these things at some level.
Regardless, if you agree with the Federal Governments’ response to the crisis, Covenant Bay Bible Camp has benefited significantly. Since May, Covenant Bay’s year-round staff went from full-time work to 32 hours per week. To pay for the staff wages, an application has been to the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy each month, amounting to over $65,000. Additionally, over $80,000 was granted in other funding for summer students and interns. This provision allowed us to offer a unique summer camp program. Without funding for year-round and summer staff, Covenant Bay would have had to alter its operations significantly. I am grateful for God’s provision, regardless of how it comes.
Covenant Bay donors continue to amaze. Not only have they paid for in full the construction cost of the Lodge (grateful for no mortgage), but they continue to provide all that is needed to continue the work. Donors have already exceeded what was given in 2019. Typically, November and December are some of the highest giving months of the year. God provides all that we need and more to serve him. I am so tremendously grateful!
…together for the good…
‘And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. ‘ Romans 8:28
In March and April, I thought the Crisis would hurt Covenant Bay so significantly that I wondered if the organization would survive. Not only has Covenant Bay survived, but it has become stronger. More people than ever are being reached. Our staff team has grown and become more well rounded. Covenant Bay donors continue to be faithful. Amazingly, God is doing as much or more than he ever has through the work at Covenant Bay.
So why all this blessing? I thought this was a crisis? I believe that is just the way God works; he loves to bless his children. Thanks for loving God and responding to his call. God has blessed us because he chooses to, and I am so grateful for his love and for allowing us to work alongside him.
Can you think of any more blessings? Count them by one with me by commenting below!