Your Jesus doesn’t work for me.” stated John Giesbrecht’s newfound acquaintance on the Reserve. John noted a glimmer of anger mixed with pain in the eyes of the weathered-skinned, middle-aged First Nations man. John gently questioned, Why doesn’t He work for you?” Charlie squinted—almost keeping tears at bay, “They told us if we believed Jesus enough, I wouldn’t drink anymore, and my son would be well again. We buried my son last week, and I thirst for alcohol now more than ever. Those missionaries left, and we’ve had no one here to tell us why Jesus didn’t help.”
This conversation was adapted from many similar ones that John and Anne Giesbrecht have had during their forty years of ministry with the indigenous peoples of Canada. It’s one example of why building long-term discipling relationships with Native peoples is vital to their understanding the truth of the gospel, who Jesus is, and how He changes lives. “Splash and dash” missionaries, as Anne calls them, are of little service to First Nations peoples.
Once trusting relationships are established with people on Reserves, John and Anne have found that even if adults struggle with change they openly value someone caring for their children. Many times the Giesbrecht’s home has been a safe harbor for Native children to break away from isolation and difficult situations. In the same way, Bible camps are an integral part of ministry to these communities.
One of John’s greatest desires is to walk in the will of God.
Over the years he has consistently sought out the Lord’s direction and confirmation before moving ahead in his life and ministry. Four years ago, the unfortunate closing of a nearby Bible camp that John and Anne had long served in, brought up the question of where kids from three area Reserves would go that was both logistically and financially open to them. When he sensed God nudging him to start a new Bible camp, John began to move ahead looking for confirmation of God’s leading along the way. He spoke in churches, answered many questions, and eventually gained a team of board members for the project.
At this point John still had no clear answer from the Lord that building a new camp was His will. Yet if they were to proceed land would be required, so the search for property began. Multiple doors closed to seemingly viable options. Then unexpectedly, a land tract was offered with the owner’s stipulation to gift the property only if First Nations were able to attend camp there. For John, this was God’s, “Yes!”
There was further confirmation of God’s blessing and leading in this project when another potential roadblock arose with land use and division laws. Yet again, through a series of God-ordained connections and John’s long-standing reputation in the community, applications were pushed through, fees waved, and the vision for Rock of Ages Bible Camp became reality. At the end of 2017, twenty-four acres of magnificent, usable land were set aside for generations of campers to enjoy. In 2018 the work of building it began.
Initially John did as much coordinating and construction of the camp as he could himself, with a bit of help from friends. Some buildings, materials and necessary items were donated, but before summer the need for more helping hands was evident… God had a plan though.
Earlier that year, Lance and Gloria Kruzic from a small church in southern Oregon had been seeking God’s will for a youth group mission trip. When they heard about the needs at Rock of Ages Bible Camp, they began the process of putting together a trip into northern Canada to help in whatever way they could. By the time this team of twenty-two people (including adults, kids, and teens) arrived, it was obvious God was leading.
Their first weekend at Rock of Ages, the Kruzics’ group helped facilitate a small family camp. While having Sunday service in the meeting house, a blustering rain storm came through the area and water began flowing freely through multiple leaks in the roof.
The next day, the mission team went to work on a new roof for the meeting house, and several other buildings. During the following week, kids and adults worked side by side constructing small cabins, erecting Quonset huts (long, semicircular buildings), logging and clearing land for parking, other buildings and activity areas. Their obedience to God’s call of service was an answer to John and Anne’s prayers.
In turn, mission team members gained an experience they will never forget. While working and worshiping at the new Bible camp, they found instant connection and unity with the Giebsbrechts and the diverse group of family campers. Amid today’s short bytes of information, short-term jobs, relationships, and projects, this next generation of youth was able to see in John and Anne the value of long-term commitment to God, ministry, and people.
Earlier this year more necessities were donated, and a 275-foot well was drilled for free! There is still much to be done on buildings, furnishings and grounds, and staff for most camps are yet needed. Still the Giesbrechts have great faith that this is God’s project and He will provide. As John recently said,
“This is just the beginning of the story for Rock of Ages Bible Camp.”
- Please pray for God to supply, call and equip: staff, workers to landscape and build sports fields, and carpenters (finish work/furniture construction).
- Pray for wisdom in leaders and board members, that they will follow God's best path to shine Jesus into Native families lives through Rock of Ages Bible Camp.
Rock of Ages Bible Camp needs individuals or short-term teams to work as camp staff, work crews, carpenters and landscape workers, currently and through summer. For more information about volunteering at Rock of Ages Bible Camp please contact John Giesbrecht at:
- Phone: 250-262-8696
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Address: Box 137 Charlie Lake, B.C. VoC1Ho Canada
Donate to a special need/project:
- Gravel for road (~ $6,000)
- Sports equipment (~ $4,000)
- Well pump and set-up (~ $3,000)
- Bunk bed mattresses (~ 25 needed)
- Zipline moving and set-up
To give online visit:
Confirmation of God's Affirmation
Dale Smith, Executive Director
Have you ever struggled to know God’s leading or timing about something? In this month’s story, John and Ann Giesbrecht prayed and waited for God to confirm his direction regarding a Bible camp. They saw a need, God stirred their hearts, and they began to pray, asking him to meet the need. All the while they reflected on how they might be part of his solution. They consulted with others and asked them to pray also.
Sounds simple, right? Actually, for this to be a simple process it is imperative that a believer walk in intimate fellowship with the Master! John and Anne, and Rock of Ages Bible Camp, beautifully exemplify this! They are a model to us all of what it means to walk with the Lord and sense his leading! When seeking the Lord’s direction about something, we take action—attuned to God’s confirmation through a settled peace—and look for open doors to further affirm we are indeed following him. As you read the story of Rock of Ages Bible Camp look for the ways God unfolded his plan to the Giesbrechts.
Rock of Ages cleft for me, Let me hide myself in thee; ~ Augustus M. Toplady ~
"For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock." ~ Psalm 27:5 ~
Created with an image by Brian Breeden - "untitled image"