Freshwater Academy

Fresh Water Academy was founded in 2010. It is home to four lovely young ladies of learning and their dedicated teachers. Located in the wilds of Wyoming, the name Fresh Water Academy was chosen as a Western analogy to Christ. Just as He is the Living Water, and we must have Him to have eternal life, any desert dweller knows the importance of fresh water to life, both for self, and the nourishment of crops or livestock. By taking nourishment in God and His word, we strengthen our own relationship with Him, our faith, and the quality and abundance of our fruitfulness.

Our keystone verse is from Jeremiah, Chapter 17, Verse 8: "For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit."

The fruit that we speak of is mentioned in Galatians 5:22
"22But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law."

And the heat could be anything we experience that might test our faith in God; trials and tribulations, relationships, anything that focuses our love and attention anywhere but on Him...

Monday, July 16, 2012

Guest Post - Haven of Rest Ministry

It's great to be back!  We had a wonderful and exciting week at Children's Camp, with several salvations, including two in our own cabin.  I will be sharing more insights from the week and passing on some of Pastor Quinn's wisdom, but today I wanted to share a guest post with you that was written by my friend Shannon.  It captures her voice so incredibly, that I can actually hear her voice as I'm reading it :).  


The Story of Our Church (so far)

Midwest/Edgerton Area Map From Google Earth
       To understand our church it is necessary to know a little bit about our community. Midwest and Edgerton are two small towns next to each other in the middle of Wyoming. The total population of both towns together is around 500 people. The nearest city to us is Casper, which is about 45 miles away. There is nothing but open prairie between here and there with a few people scattered around. In order to go shopping or to the doctor or whatever, everyone has to go to Casper.

       In our community we have a preschool to 12th grade school with less than 200 kids, a gas station with convenience store, a small hotel, two places for food and three bars. We used to have a small grocery store but it closed down in May 2011. The only real employment we have available is the oil field. Because of our isolation and lack of businesses for employment, there is much poverty in this town. The poverty leads to rampant drug and alcohol use as well as broken families. Those who do work either have to commute or work long hours to make ends meet. This leaves many children with little or no supervision due to parents being gone at work or as a result of apathy or depression caused by poverty.  Neither the average oilfield worker nor the poverty stricken are very open to the Word of God.

       This story begins in the early 2000’s. At that time there were three churches in this town. The Catholic Church had a circuit priest that would come through every month or so, but followed no regular schedule. Both the Baptist and the Methodist Churches were primarily older people who were content to sit in church and had no real interest in getting involved in the community. Many of the families that make up the church we have now tried to make do with that Baptist Church, but we were not satisfied. Some of us even tried to go to churches in Casper, but the time and money to drive almost 100 miles every Sunday made that almost impossible to keep up. 

       Then, slowly, things began to change. It all started with a home Bible study put on by a couple who had just moved into the area. They were not comfortable in either of the local churches, so they asked the pastor of Boyd Avenue Baptist Church in Casper to come up here to do a weekly Bible study.  So in the fall of 2001 the Boyd Ave. team made first contact with our community. They immediately recognized the problems we were facing and started a plan of action to do something about it. This went on for another four years. During this time they started taking our kids to the summer camp on the mountain and having Vacation Bible Schools in the park.  Finally, in 2005, they proposed to come to Midwest every week to hold a church service. Several families immediately embraced this idea so they worked out the details.

       In November of 2005 we had our first church service in the town hall in Midwest. We had our meetings at 3:00 in the afternoon on Sundays so that the pastor had time to come up from Casper; we have kept to that time since then. From there, things started rolling at an amazing pace (and they still are). In May of 2006 they hired for us our own pastor. Gary Cargill, along with his wife and three kids, moved to Wyoming from Oklahoma and we became our own church. At this time our mother church in Casper stepped back and let us walk on our own. They never left us completely. They have continued to offer guidance and financial assistance and keep involved and updated on what we were doing; but they let us make our own decisions and operate our church in the way that we are comfortable.
Our New Church Building
       Operating out of the town hall soon became an issue. We had to work around other events scheduled in the building and many people from the town thought it was wrong for a church to have regular use of a public building (even though we were paying rent). So we all (our church body as well as the church in Casper) started looking for a piece of land to build a church on. Again, this became difficult because nobody wanted a church built next to their house.
  
       Finally someone came up with the idea to approach the Catholic Church on the use of their building since it was very rarely used. By November of 2006 we were holding our meetings in the Catholic Church building with a plan in motion to purchase the building. This transaction went smoothly, mostly because the few Catholics left in town had no objection to it since they were used to having to go to Casper for church anyway. So, in May of 2007, the Catholic Church was deconsecrated and it officially became ours. This gave us the freedom to schedule Bible studies, potlucks Christmas and Easter special programs and other things. 

       On Wednesdays we had four different Bible classes: little kids up to 3rd grade, middle kids up to 6th grade, teens and adults. We had four steady families in the church at that time and about 15 kids, Pastor Gary taught the adults, his wife Cyndi taught the middle kids, and we still had people come up from town to teach the teens; but nobody was available to teach the little kids class full time so the rest of us took turns each week teaching that class. That is when we all really started working together as a team to get things done, and it has grown from there. None of us felt prepared or capable but we did it anyway and we all grew and were blessed because if it.

       In the meantime, there was no one left at the old Baptist Church and the building sat empty for quite some time. After a while, the last remaining members of the old Baptist church made the decision to donate the church building, along with the parsonage, to the Boyd Avenue church. In June of 2008 we took possession of the property and immediately knew that God had plans for its use.
The Haven of Rest and Parsonage
       Both buildings were in need of many repairs, so we started by fixing up the parsonage so that the pastor and his family would have a nice big house to live in without rent. Then we started making repairs on the church itself. We knew that this was meant to be a community center for the people of this town, a place where they would feel safe and welcome but without feeling the discomfort of going into an actual church. We had many ideas of how we should go about it. (We still have many plans for the future that have yet to be realized).

       After much prayer we all agreed that the first thing we needed to do was make a food and clothes bank to deal with the most pressing problems in our area. It took a lot of time and work and planning to make the building usable for this purpose but by October we were able to start distributing clothes. That summer and the next (and every summer since) missionaries from different churches around the country came and helped us do all the repairs that were needed and the prep-work to qualify as a food bank. We all worked together to do what was needed to get it ready. This is the time the kids started working as well, even the littlest ones did what they could to help out, and we have been working side by side with our children ever since. We don’t really think about it much but we get comments all the time, from community members as well as visiting missionaries, how amazing it is that the kids are willing do just as much work as the rest of us; but we wouldn’t be able to do what we do without those extra hands or if we had to set someone aside to watch kids. After a lot of work and dedication, prayer and praise, and willing help from new friends we opened our doors for our first food bank in July of 2009.

       We started off once a month but soon realized that was not enough, and so we started doing it twice a month. It was, and still is, a great success. On average we plan on having about 50 families each distribution night. That may not sound like very much at first, but look at the statistics. We have about 500 people in our community. Considering three people in the average family, that’s 150 people we feed twice a month- more than 25% of the population of our community! Think about 25% of any other community showing up regularly to a church sponsored event; the Hand of God is doing mighty works in this area.

       We don’t just give them boxes of food: we always provide a hot meal, have a short prayer or devotional time before we start, and always have people available to listen to those in need. We have a few new regulars at our church because of this program, which is good, but what is really amazing is the fact that we have several volunteers, who show up and help every time the doors are open, that never go to any church at all.

       In July of 2011 our Pastor and his family were called away to a different mission field in Kansas. We were all very sad to see them go, and we weren’t sure how we would continue on. We found that with the support of our mother church and our dedication to what we had started, we were able to continue. The church in town sends someone out to preach for us every Sunday, but for the most part we have been able to continue Gods work on our own. We are still searching for a new pastor, and we eagerly await the day that God sends the one he has chosen for us. In the meantime we have found that working together and focusing on His will makes anything possible. We have all grown closer to each other and closer to God through this time of transition.

       Our newest venture, on which we have spent many years in prayer and preparation, just started at the beginning of this summer. On Friday afternoons we have started a kid’s activity night. We have pool tables, board games, video games, puzzles, prizes and more. We go and pick up the kids who need a ride and take them home afterwards. We provide them with a hot meal, cold drinks and other snacks, all at no charge. The most important thing, though, is that we all play with the kids - we don’t just stand back and watch.  The main purpose for this, besides giving them a safe place to play, is to get to know them, give them the chance to get to know us and show them that someone really does care about them.

       That is a summary of where we are and how we got here, but this is certainly not the end of the story. God willing, it’s just the beginning……….

1 comment:

  1. http://www.ahgonline.org/pages/page.asp?page_id=20353

    I just heard about this one. I thought this might be a great addition to what you all are already doing. I live in gasplant and know that this program is something I would love my daughters to be apart of.

    ReplyDelete