How do I describe the power of Flower City Work Camp? How do I give a snapshot of this amazing week when students and adults from 36 different churches banded together to serve and spread the love of Jesus to Rochester?
Well, meet Lisa. This Rochester native may have the warmest heart in the entire city. Lisa worked at the Rochester YMCA for 54 years blessing her community, and she lived in the same home for nearly all that time — building into the lives of her children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
But as she and her house age, home repairs have been tough. So during Flower City Work Camp, Browncrofters Lisa and Mike Torell, along with Tim Klembcyzk, led a group of students in replacing the drop-ceiling in her kitchen, repainting nearly every room in her house, and updating her first floor bathroom. They also installed working ceiling fans and refinished her porch.
Overwhelmed by the love shown to her by these individuals from churches all over Monroe County, Lisa brought the crew coffee and donuts the last day and exclaimed through tears, “I’m going to miss you!”
This year Flower City Work Camp found its home base at Bethel Christian Fellowship — a church right in the heart of the city. And it was exciting to see Victorious Living Church and New Hope Free Methodist Church take key roles, too. Truly, it was inspiring to witness local city churches coming together, embracing the common mission of the week — making the city see Jesus.
During the day students became leaders as they exhibited their talents and passion to serve in various ways. They led drills and Bible studies at a soccer camp organized by the Fellowship of Christian Athletes and hosted by Rochester Preparatory School. They spearheaded a basketball camp and sidewalk clubs that spread the Gospel among kids in the community and ignited their hearts with the message of Jesus. And a number served teams that provided support to local nonprofit organizations making a tangible difference in the lives of those in need.
In the evenings at Bethel students got to hear from speakers from Calvary Assembly Church in Chili and New Testament Christian Church in Greece as they dove deep into Matthew 16:18. We learned how Jesus called Peter as the rock on which He would build His Church and how “the gates of Hades will not overcome it.” With games, musical worship, and powerful times of prayer, our students were challenged to continually put their faith in Jesus and “Move Forward” to advance the Kingdom of God knowing He is with them.
Overall, I am VERY encouraged after Flower City Work Camp. Here are just a few observations that continue to resonate with me:
- Joy: The smiles of the wonderful homeowners, business owners, and kids we had the pleasure of blessing and being blessed by. To see the joy and love of Jesus overwhelm the lives of others is the reason we participate in this annual week of service.
- Unity: In a world of division we still have moments where the Church can put aside differences to serve others in the name of Jesus. Flower City Work Camp demonstrates this beautifully.
- Know & Use Your Gifts: Yes, we had carpenters, coaches, and extroverted individuals serving the city. But it didn’t end there. Whether it was administration, nursing, speaking, music, tech, teaching, or just having a car and being willing to transport food to sites, there were so many individuals of all ages using their gifts to bless others.
- Partnerships: If we want to continue growing the impact of this ministry, it will need to be alongside local city churches and working together with the very community we’re serving. As much as we loved hosting at Browncroft in years past, having our home base at Bethel and partnering with local schools and students is a great step in this direction. You can always be praying for wisdom and favor that we would build these partnerships well!
God used Flower City Work Camp once again to touch lives, strengthen faith, and unite communities in the name of Jesus. It’s a powerful testament to the love of God working through His people, and it’s a reminder that when we come together with a heart to serve — He moves.