I always thought of myself as a one talent Christian. I just wanted to be found faithful with my one talent.”
Over the next 20 years, John Moore, Maranatha Baptist Seminary alumnus, would see God take that one talent and multiply it in miraculous ways.
He Who Is Faithful in Little
Early in life, Moore worked in Milwaukee as a field agent for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms. During this time, he and his family attended Greendale Baptist Church.
Moore is thankful for this time of spiritual growth, but he and his wife, Nancy, doubted their ability to serve the Lord in leadership positions. God answered these doubts with opportunities, and the Moores began teaching junior church as well as adult Sunday school classes.
While faithfully serving during this time, God brought to light His next step for the Moore family. In 1996, Moore enrolled in classes at Maranatha Baptist University.
Following the Call
While enrolled in Seminary level classes, Moore worked a full time job to support his wife and their four children, Nathan, Evan, Rachel, and Benjamin. He worked during the day and completed schoolwork at night. Though these times were difficult, God proved himself faithful in giving strength and guidance.
Moore specifically remembers his first direction toward missions at a weekend retreat at Camp Joy in Whitewater, WI. A conversation with a South African missionary planted the seed of missions that would sprout over the next several years.
That conversation turned into a short-term survey trip, which turned into a new home for the family of six on a new continent halfway around the world. Though sure of God’s leading, moving to a new country and a new culture would be no small task. But the Moores were not deterred because their confidence in God’s grace and faithfulness enabled them to move forward.
He Who Is Faithful in Much
Adapting to some aspects of their new home certainly proved difficult. For example, their city reported a high crime rate, and violence was considered a way of life. Nancy shares, “I wasn’t prepared to live behind an eight foot wall with serpentine wire around the top.”
Despite such adjustments, the Moores also saw that this aspect of daily life created an openness and curiosity in the people. “The thought of ‘what would happen if I were to die today’ isn’t theoretical there,” says Moore.
In addition to new ways of living, the Moores needed to acclimate to a new way of ministry. Moore explains, “There are 13 different cultures and 13 different languages, and you need to be familiar with all of them in order to minister effectively.”
Because of these challenges, the Moores opted to serve one three-year term under veteran missionaries. This decision proved invaluable, for Moore says they avoided many mistakes that would have been inevitable otherwise. After this time period, the Moores planted an independent church in their home city and served the people there for another eight years.
“We learned that you are actively spending yourself by choice, and you are passively being spent. When you do that, you very much care how things go. No one wants to pour their water down a hole, so you are very encouraged with the successes, and you have to be careful with the defeats in other people’s lives. That is what touches you the most.”
Though ministry was not always easy, the hand of God faithfully blessed their labors. For example, the people built a brand new church building without any outside financial assistance. These experiences taught the Moores that success is not represented in the quantity but rather the quality of spiritual fruit.
“If I saw one person saved in 14 years, it was worth it for that one person,” says Nancy. “As a whole, it was the best experience of our lives, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world. If the Lord asked me to go back, I would pack my bag and go tomorrow. But He asked us to come home.”
Near the end of their second term, Moore received a phone call from the board members of Camp Joy asking if he would consider praying about the possibility of filling the position of camp director. The offer seemed almost ridiculous at the time, but after extensive independent prayer, both John and Nancy felt the Lord directing them back to America.
In tackling the camp ministry, the Moores wasted no time. Strategically located in the middle of Chicago, Milwaukee, Madison, and Rockford, Camp Joy overlooks a beautiful lake and provides a prime venue for physical refreshment and spiritual rejuvenation.
Though camp ministry is different from missions work in many ways, the Moores found that their experiences in South Africa gave them fresh ideas. “In camping, I assume nothing, and I look at everything. I study everything. And sometimes, you discover things … and you can put your finger on some things that perhaps are new opportunities,” Moore says.
These new opportunities are fleshing out in new ideas that will be implemented in the coming years. Among these ideas is an “Inside Out” spiritual emphasis week. This session is specifically designed for saved campers, and it deals with current issues that many young people face on a daily basis. Camp Joy also offers a Christian school program, which provides a half-day field trip with activities, lunch, and speaking sessions for students. In 2018, Camp Joy will also be hosting its first deaf family camp and youth retreat.
In every idea, the Moores seek to be innovative and excellent. Moore says, “The Lord is worthy of the best that we can give.” This mentality drives every endeavor at Camp Joy, from facility improvements to specialized staff training.
More than ever, Moore sees the need for a sanctuary of physical and spiritual refreshment. “The more intrusive our society becomes, the more necessary the camp ministry becomes,” he says. Seeking to fill this need, Moore describes the purpose of this ministry saying, “We consider ourselves a specialty tool because we are in the church age, not the camp age. We don’t want to be the focus, but we definitely want to be found faithful with our one talent.”
The Moores, along with the entire staff at Camp Joy, are excited about this summer’s camp season. If you are interested in attending or ministering at Camp Joy this summer in some capacity, click here.