Flower City Work Camp is an awesome way for teens and adults to spend the week of spring break in the Rochester, New York area. In less than 96 hours during April 2014, 755 teens and over 300 adults from 56 churches came together to work and worship. Flower City Work Camp was born in 1985, when a group of local youth leaders desired to see their students serve in a meaningful inner-City ministry and impact the City of Rochester with the life-changing message of Christ’s love in practical ways. In the last 29 years it has continued to grow! Each year students and adults serve by doing such home repairs as painting, simple construction, yard work etc. There were 58 work sites this year. Also sidewalk clubs reached out to 750 neighborhood children by playing games, singing songs, making crafts and sharing the life-changing gospel of Jesus Christ. Seventy-five of these children came to trust Jesus Christ as their Savior. Basketball camps taught basketball skills and Bible verses. During the week, all campers participated in prayer walks bringing the needs of the city before God.
This past spring break, all three generations of our family were privileged to be a part of this outreach. Our daughter, Jill, was the representative for Life Quest Community Church and our daughter-in-law, Amy, represented New Hope Christian Church. It was the third year our granddaughters Anna and Charity have attended FCWC. This year Anna was a part of a sidewalk club while Charity worked at a home site helping to replace a large living room window and doing some bathroom plumbing. Amy, Jill and Jamey were adults who stayed overnight with the teens from their respective churches. My husband, Gary, and his friend Bob were “go-fers!” They would “go for” whatever materials were needed at the three sites for which they were responsible. Our son, Greg, and I were responsible for child care of younger members of the two families so others could be more actively involved. I was able to help our daughter and two of her younger children deliver lunches to one work site two of the days. What a privilege to be among these dedicated Christian teens and adults!
A few scriptures come to my mind that help me describe what happens at Flower City Work Camp.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up,
just as in fact you are doing.
I Thessalonians 5:11
Campers stay over night in two area churches. Each morning as the teams leave for their day’s assignment, people line the driveway of the parking lot and shout words of encouragement as vehicles drive by. Shouts of “God bless you!” and whistles and cheers greet every van, pickup or car whether there be one person or many people in each vehicle. I would describe this as a human tunnel of encouragement. When the campers return in the afternoon, those who stay overnight with the teens are there to greet them and listen to their experiences. Dinner time is a sharing time. Some eat with workers from their day site while others eat with their own church youth group. Returning campers often renew friendships from previous years.
Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
Home projects are completed during the week and their work is not in vain because the presence of the Lord is with the workers in all they do. It is such a blessing to see young people who spend their week of spring break serving others. They even pay to be a part of Flower City Work Camp. Money goes to buy supplies for home projects and also for their food of breakfast and dinner. Each church that is part of FCWC provides lunches for a site three days.
Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth.
Worship the Lord with gladness;
come before him with joyful songs.
Know that the Lord is God.
Morning devotions and evening programs filled with worship, prayer, testimonies and teaching are designed to bring students into the presence of God. By the end of the week, everyone is sent home energized, changed and strengthened. Contemporary worship allows the teens to raise their hands, dance and cry before the Lord. For some, this is the first time they have experienced the Lord’s presence in such a personal way. The theme for this year’s evening teachings was “Stand” taken from Ephesians 6:13. Each person had a shirt with this logo. Every evening there was a teaching about spiritual warfare. Each day started with the Lord, then involved serving the community during the day, and finally the day ended with worship and teaching. Everyone met as a large group to begin the evening but the night concluded with cabin time within small groups.
Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do
for one of the least of these,
you did not do for me.
The people living within the neighborhoods served by FCWC crews are positively influenced by this outreach. At the conclusion of site projects, the team gathers around the homeowner and prays for them and their home. A Bible is given to them to help them grow in their faith after the campers leave. Often these individuals are in tears as they are touched by the Lord as well as having been touched by the workers.
Anyone who participates in FCWC is positively impacted irregardless of the level of involvement. Last year I simply helped prepare and serve dinner at one of the churches one evening. It is no small task to prepare food for several hundred teens and adults who have worked hard all day. I was impressed by the chefs in charge. The opportunities for being involved are endless.
Flower City Work Camp is a one week event in the spring, but there is a team of hard workers planning and preparing year round as they choose sites for work and accept and review applications of teens and adults along with numerous other responsibilities. There are monthly meetings for all church representatives. This event is one of the best organized outreaches I have ever experienced. Thank you FCWC team!