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Fellowship Deaconry Blog

Sharing Updates and Stories from Fellowship Deaconry Ministries

New Sunshine Camp Bus Program

“If we can’t bring inner city kids to Day Camp Sunshine, let’s bring the camp to them!” was the idea that sparked the initiative for Sunshine Camp Bus (SCB).  Todd Haraldsen, Director of Sunshine Day Camp, and Chris Hendrickson, Assistant Director, are committed to sharing the Gospel. There were 135 kids who professed faith in Christ over the summer of 2016. We offer camp scholarships to families in need, which has proven to be very powerful. Yet camp scholarships only help us serve the children who are able to get to our place. 

Todd and Chris have developed an amazing solution: stuff a vehicle with basic day camp equipment and two counselors, and bring day camp to churches in Newark. The idea is to connect with churches in the city who may have a facility, but not the means to offer day camp recreation to kids in the area. The Fellowship Deaconry (FDM) will partner with such churches and send our “Sunshine Camp Bus” to them for a day. The church will provide space and volunteers and FDM will provide the rest.

Ms. Shelly Bell, a member of our Board of Directors, and an activist for Christ in the Newark area, loves the idea.  Ms. Bell believes there are many churches that would be on board with the program, and who would be willing and able to pay a daily fee to cover the costs.  Countless kids would hear the Gospel and have what may possibly be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience God reaching out to them, even if they can’t get to camp.

Our estimated budget to get this program up and running is $75,000. Our needs to jump start this program are: a vehicle (bus or large van), equipment and two additional counselors.  If you have an in-kind donation, maybe an extra bus or sports equipment you want to donate, we can use that too! Once we are running, the participation of local churches will sustain the program.  As our “Sunshine Camp Bus” thrives in Newark, we hope to expand the program to other areas, including, possibly, Patterson and Trenton.  We’ll see how the Lord leads. If the Lord gives you any ideas, or moves upon your heart to help start this program, let us know. If you have any questions or an in-kind donation, please email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or you can donate online at www.deaconry.org/donate

 

 

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S.H.I.L.O.H Committees

Director Davis has begun an unprecedented project at FDM by calling the entire staff, along with the Deaconry Sisters and our volunteers who are visiting from Germany, to gather into these specific committees. We have formed six committees to kick off this project: Systems, Hospitality, Infrastructure, Leadership & training, Outreach and Housing. Put them all together and they spell S.H.I.L.O.H. 

Through evaluation and prayer each committee is asked to bring forward up to five recommendations that they believe FDM should undertake to improve operations, appearance and guest service. 

Director Davis says there is inspiration to be taken from Nehemiah chapter 3: Remember, Nehemiah had been sent to Jerusalem to rebuild the wall: In chapter 3 we have a list that describes how particular sections of the wall, and individual gates, were rebuilt and repaired by different segments of the population. Taking a lead from Nehemiah, each group is focusing on repairing a different “section of the wall”. Each group is focusing on an aspect of the FDM operation by identifying problems, and recommending solutions. A final review will be conducted to identify which projects should become part of a strategic plan. 

Everyone is excited and feeling encouraged, and we look forward seeing to the results. 

We cannot do this alone and are in need of your help to bring these changes into reality. King Artaxerxes provided the financing for Nehemiah’s project, the people provided the labor, and the Spirit of God provided the protection against mockers and enemies. 

Your partnership is essential in the form of volunteering, continued financial help (for materials, supplies, signs, new printed matter) and continuing to intercede for us as we pursue God’s purposes for the Deaconry. Please pray about how you can help us in this process, and consider signing up for volunteer opportunities.

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The Joy of the Lord is Our Strength

In our last issue of Seasons our Board Chair, Fred Schumm, alluded to Nehemiah. In this issue, we also allude to the book of Nehemiah in several places. The Nehemiah example continues to resonate at Fellowship Deaconry Ministries. The book of Nehemiah recounts a stirring episode in the history of Israel. There was a material task to literally rebuild walls and repair gates in Jerusalem, but there were spiritual issues too. After having been defeated by Assyria and Babylon, most Israelites had been scattered to the winds or carried off into captivity, including the priests and Levites. After 70 years, and a partial return to the land, the inhabitants of Jerusalem had forgotten the Word of God, and the joy of His presence. In Nehemiah chapter 8 we learn that after the walls had been repaired Nehemiah and Ezra called for a holy day in Jerusalem. Ezra mounted a platform to read the Word of God aloud to the people. Their hearts were pierced, and they wept, as they realized that they had wandered away from worship, and had broken the Law. But Ezra and Nehemiah admonished the people to not grieve: “This day is holy to our Lord. Do not grieve, for the joy of the LORD is your strength." 

The people were being instructed that it is a good thing to discover they had wandered off of the path that leads to joy. When God allows us to observe (or be reminded) that we have lost track of His Presence in our endeavors, we rejoice that He has intervened to get us back on track.  Here at the Fellowship Deaconry, we rejoice that God has impressed upon us to institute Staff Devotions on a mandatory basis: Every Friday, at 10:15, everyone at the Deaconry (including volunteers, part-time employees, regular staff and the Sisters) gather for Bible study and prayer. We structure our work schedules on Friday to make sure to attend Devotions for this hour. Along with prayer for Deaconry needs, this is the time when we, as a group, pray for you, and lift the Prayer Requests that have come into us from you by email, through our web site, or by personal contact. Jesus is at the center of what we say, and we are determined that He be at the center of what we do. “… the joy of the LORD is [our] strength."

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Staff Spotlight - Chris Hendrickson

Chris Hendrickson joined Fellowship Deaconry Ministries as the Assistant Director for Day Camp Sunshine in June 2015. This year he will also be taking on a new role as Coordinator of CORE GAP Year, a new ministry that will be launching in 2018. He has an energetic spirit and is a great mentor to the youth attending camp.

One of his main responsibilities as the Assistant Director of Day Camp Sunshine, is to train and supervise the staff.  In the summer when new international Day Camp staff arrive he is eager to get to know them and their cultures.  He also enjoys showing them around and sharing American culture and history with them. Before Chris worked at the Fellowship Deaconry, he was the Physical Education teacher at Good Shepherd Christian Academy in Washington, NJ.

Outside of work, he is interested in puppetry, photography and travel.  He enjoys going to puppetry conventions and learning more about this unique craft.  He is an an avid hiker and is passionate about nature photography.  Some of his favorite places to photograph include water elements, such as oceans, brooks and lakes.  

His most memorable travel adventures are a recent road trip across America to Yellowstone National Park, on which he fell in love with the City of Saint Louis.  As well as a missions trip to Chile in South America, where their team leader left them in their host's home without a translator.  That evening they realized how much can be communicated without words and only charade-style hand gestures.

A passage of Scripture that resonates with Chris is 1 Corinthians 11:1, “Imitate me as I imitate Christ.” For him, this is a passage to live up to as he mentors youth.

If you see Chris around campus, be sure to say hello and ask him about his most recent adventure!

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Greetings for 2017

A Verse for 2017

"Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed ... for the battle is not yours but God's."

II Chronicles 20:15 ESV

I have known about the Deaconry for years. I have been here for meetings and events, and I know pastors who have come to the Deaconry for retreat and rejuvenation. Now, as of November 1, I am a member of the team. I sense an upwelling of hope and a growing joy, and I look forward to what God has in store.

The ministry of The Fellowship Deaconry spans decades - innumerable lives have been enriched and many have been led to salvation. I have heard people speak of there being a Spiritual Well here at the Deaconry.    

Please pray that God would re-open that well, and that Living Water would erupt and bring a flood of salvation, healing, deliverance and wholeness. Some who visit the Deaconry even now report that as they enter they feel they are entering a safe and sacred place.

Our hope is to leave a legacy of new generations to bring the Deaconry onward. The thousands of children who have been edified at Day Camp Sunshine, the hosts of Fellowship Conference Center visitors over the years, and the youngsters at Sunshine Preschool are all investments made toward building that legacy.

And you, those who have supported the Deaconry financially, in prayer, with intercession, and with labor, are a part of building that legacy. You visited here as children. You have sent your children here to Day Camp Sunshine and Sunshine Preschool. You have been here on retreat or attended a conference where God has spoken into your life, and changed you forever.  Some of you have known the Deaconry for less time, but with no less affection. We are blessed and encouraged to know you are with us.

My growing joy springs from a vision of moving forward in God, without discarding the past. We are beautifying the grounds, improving services, and expanding ministries – investing in the legacy. The greatest blessing – the most effective legacy building – comes when guests and campers want to return here because this is where they had an encounter with God! That is what it’s all about.

The above scripture verse has been chosen by the Deaconry Sisters. We send this word to you because God is speaking the very same to us as we move forward: “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the battle is not yours but God’s.”  (2 Chronicles 20:15 ESV)

We thank you for your support, in all its forms. Please continue in prayer and intercession. If we can pray for you, please email your prayer request to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with "Prayer" in the subject line and your prayer request in the body of the email.

In Christ,

Rev. Joel E. Davis
Executive Director
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Operation Christmas Child Shoebox Collection

It was our privilege to be a drop off site for Operation Christmas Child again this year.  Volunteers worked hard for two weeks collecting boxes and getting them ready to be shipped overseas. In total, 1,890 boxes were collected!  We're so thankful for the dedicated Operation Christmas Child volunteers who make this program possible and ask you to join us in prayer for all of the children who will be receiving boxes and attending the discipleship program overseas.

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Introducing our new Executive Director, Rev. Joel E. Davis

It is with great joy that we introduce Rev. Joel E. Davis as Executive Director at Fellowship Deaconry Ministries.  He joined us in the beginning of November 2016, having previously served as Assistant V.P. of Finance at Pillar College.

Pastor Joel is a faithful servant of God.  We believe his gifts as a pastor and finance professional are a combination that will help him grow our current ministries and develop new ones.  Joel is a church planter, a people-person, and a lover of the Word.  He understands our vision:

"To glorify God by facilitating positive, life-transforming experiences for all who come."

And he wants our core values, or DNA, to motivate our Staff and be evident to each person who visits these hallowed grounds.  These core values are Joy, Unity, Stewardship, and a Servant's Heart

Please join us in welcoming Pastor Joel to our Staff and continue to pray with us for God's Glory to be further manifested in our midst.

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Day Camp Sunshine Update

Sunshine. Slushies. Swimming. Sunscreen. Sweet Shop. Songs. Sports. Sleepovers. Smiling Faces. Staff. Salvations. While each of these accurately depicts an aspect of Day Camp Sunshine (DCS), none describes the true essence and nature of DCS. The singular word that would truly capture and portray the ministry of DCS is relationships.

Having been involved in nineteen summers of sleep away camp, I felt confident and knowledgeable jumping into the day camp environment. I was blown away with the deep connection and close relationships the staff developed with their campers as well as with each other over the course of nine weeks. The very foundation and roots of DCS also boils down to one significant relationship. Our staff poured out their heart and soul introducing their campers to Jesus Christ and cultivating a personal relationship with Him.

As we inched closer to our ninth and final week of camp, campers responded to their counselors with deeper questions about Heaven & God. When that final day of camp arrived, tears trickled down the faces of the veteran counselor, the macho twelve year old boy and the youngest, most innocent Kindergarten girl. The final chapter of the summer had come and like every amazing book, you wanted it to continue. Why? Campers felt loved and accepted by their counselors, while counselors loved ministering to their kids and showing them God’s love.

All in all, over 50 counselors representing 6 continents, 11 different countries and 4 states ministered to 391 families, 547 campers and a total of 2,437 youth over 9 weeks. Countless spiritual discussions took place, numerous seeds planted, and God rewarded the staff in seeing the fruit of their labor with many kids accepting Christ. Praise God for the lives impacted at Day Camp Sunshine in 2015.

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Sandbox Salvation


On July 28, 2015 at 3:30 pm, 271 screaming campers sprinted towards the high ropes course, anxiously awaiting the next event in the most crazy and competitive week of camp: Color Wars! Less than two hundred yards away, quietly perched on a wooden bench under an oak tree near a sand box, sat two young seven year old boys quietly speaking with their counselor. Perplexed as to why these two boys had not joined the throng of madness at the all camp activity, I strolled over to them.

Mr. Amos saw me coming and provided an amazing opportunity. “Would you talk to this young man? He has questions about Heaven, but thinks he is already going simply because his parents are Christians.” For the next ten minutes, Mr. Amos & I separately shared the Gospel and God’s plan of salvation with the young boys.

Two hundred yards away from us, 271 campers laughed, yelled & participated in an activity at the climbing tower while two young boys sat silently contemplating the amazing story of Jesus dying on a cross for them. Because of the work of the Holy Spirit and Mr. Amos’ commitment to his young camper’s spiritual condition, both boys prayed to accept Christ as their personal Savior. Despite the amazing amount of fun being had at the high ropes course just a stone’s throw away, a sand box is where two boys confessed their sin and entered the kingdom of Heaven. While the high ropes course is an amazing tool that captivates our campers, God used a simple, wooden bench under an oak tree near a sand box to bring two boys to a saving knowledge of an act of love that occurred on a different tree two thousand years ago.

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New Entrance to Bethel House and Improvements to Mother House

Bethel HouseRecently, Bethel House received a new entranceway (pictured left) providing a safer experience for our guests.

Power upgrade to Mother House

The Mother House is one of our oldest and most identified buildings here at the Deaconry. It is the place where our kitchen and dining rooms invite our guest to partake in hearty meals and houses the Sisters who have served us and God faithfully for all their lives. The electrical service is old and greatly in need of upgrading so we have started a project that will modernize the electrical infrastructure to meet our needs for years to come. It is just one of many ongoing needs we have to maintain and sustain our facilities so that we can continue to provide a resource for our guests to enjoy.

Would you consider helping to support this and other strategic needs with your prayers as we manage this process? Perhaps you are handy and have time to volunteer or can help to underwrite our maintenance and renovation fund, with 29 buildings there is always a big list of things to fix or maintain.

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