Here Goes Nothing

I can’t believe that the time has finally come.  I have said my goodbyes, I’m packing my bags, and in less than 24 hours I will begin my summer at Outdoor Mission Camp. In January when I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do this summer, the SHERPA program at OMC was just a thought. A possibility. A pipe dream.  It stayed in the back of my mind as I looked around for other options that seemed a bit more feasible. I applied to a few other positions along with the SHERPA program, and ended up having a choice to make.  I had great options, and I knew that I couldn’t really go wrong, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that God was pushing me towards the SHERPA program.  It was perfect.  Spend my summer backpacking, climbing and rafting? Get to talk to kids about Jesus while I do it? Go on a mission trip to Haiti at the end of it? What in the world could hold me back from this?!

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Oh yeah. The program would cost 3000 dollars. Yikes.  I have been around ministry all my life, so the idea of fundraising was not new to me.  But it sure was daunting.  I thought about all of my friends and family and connections and tried to map it all out. Let’s see, if 6 friends gave 500 dollars each, that’s 3000 dollars. Or if I got 30 friends to give 100 each, that’s 3000 dollars.  Okay, 100 friends who give 30 dollars, that’s 3000 dollars. Wait, do I even have 100 friends? Do I have 30 friends? Do I have 6 friends with 500 extra dollars just laying around?  It seemed like no matter how I did the math, it just didn’t add up. Yep, sorry, sounds like a great program and all, but that’s just too much to ask. Besides, I could just get paid to do something else all summer instead.

I expressed my concerns to a few of my mentors and friends, and I kept getting the same answer: “Don’t let money be an issue. If this is where God wants you, the money will come.” Uhm. What do you mean don’t let money be an issue? It’s 3000 dollars worth of an issue! I continued to pray about it, trying not to think about the money, and no matter how hard I tried not to, I kept feeling this gentle nudge and a quiet whisper, “Just go for it.” I thought to myself, Wait, God, come on, not you too? I bet you don’t think money will be an issue either huh?  I kept asking other people for advice, hoping somebody would tell me not to do it. No such luck. Finally, I gave in. Okay God, if this is what you want me to do, well, here goes nothing. 

Well, that was about two months ago, and after numerous letters, Facebook posts, Facebook events, pestering emails and phone calls, I am well on my way to reaching my fundraising goal. I only have about 700 dollars more to raise, and I am absolutely blown away.  It is humbling to ask people for money, but it is even more humbling when people respond with astounding generosity.  I know that for most people, money is tight. There are a gazillion people, causes, things, wants, and needs asking for your money. And yet so many of you have bought into this mission and supported me. I honestly can never thank you enough. I’m so glad that I finally decided to trust God and go for it. And I hope you never take for granted what a blessing your generosity has been.

As thankful as I am for all of the support, and this truly could not happen without it, now its time for me to step up to the plate and follow through on this mission God has called me to.  I don’t fully know what to expect out of this summer.  I don’t know if I will be good at what I am doing.  It’s gonna be tough. It’s gonna be challenging. And it’s gonna be wild. Keep me in your prayers, and check out this blog every now and then to hear how its going.  With all of that being said, here goes nothing.

 

2014: The SHERPA Summer

It’s May 12th. I finished my semester 14 days ago, and I leave for my summer long camp in 18 days. I am so thankful for this time of rest, recovery, and preparation. It never fails that a tough semester doesn’t take its toll on me until AFTER it’s finished, when I enter a few intense days of sleep intermixed with a little bit of TV and maybe even a good book. I have been fighting off a cold for a couple weeks now so my post-finals coma days have been extended into a week long process. Aside from recovering from a strenuous semester, this is also my time to get ready for the exciting summer ahead of me.

For those of you who don’t know, I will be spending this summer with the SHERPA program of Outdoor Mission Camp in Maggie Valley, NC. Sherpas in their traditional context are an ethnic group in Nepal who are known world-wide for their mountaineering expertise and have played a huge role in the success of mountaineering endeavors at Mt. Everest. While the original term sherpa was designated to a guide on Everest, the term Sherpa has come to be associated with anybody who serves as a guide or mentor. Hence, it is a very fitting title for the program I will be taking part in this summer. Essentially, the SHERPA program is a highly intensive discipleship/guiding program. I will spend about three weeks being trained in the incredible adventures of whitewater rafting, backpacking, and rock climbing while being certified in Wilderness First Aid. Coinciding with the training that takes place for these physical activities, and of even more importance, a large part of the training portion of the program will consist of spiritual disciplines such as scripture reading and small group leadership. After this three week training period, I will have a chance to put all of these skills to use as I lead various groups of at risk youth on adventures that will stretch and push them further than they ever imagined. Kids will be taken out of their element, whether that be an abusive family or a neighborhood where it seems like gang life is the only option for success, and be exposed to the rewarding experience that is found in wilderness adventures. Even more important than that, they will be exposed to the beauty of God’s great creation while being led in gospel-centered conversations. Something as simple as a whitewater rafting trip or a three day backpacking trip has life-changing potential. And oh yeah, at the end of the summer, after four weeks of leading adventures with numerous youth, we will head to Haiti for an all encompassing mission trip where we will further utilize our training and gain experience at ministering in a new culture while meeting some physical needs for a group of hurting people.

I could not be more excited about this summer adventure. I have a heart for youth ministry, and feel that God has a call on my life in this area. He has also blessed me with a passion for the outdoors and the ability to connect with Him through His creation. It is unreal to have the opportunity to combine these two passions for an eternal purpose. I am accumulating all the necessary gear. I am in the process of getting a passport for my first international trip. I am preparing my heart for a time of challenge and growth. It is hard to believe the process is finally coming together. Only one obstacle stands in my way: money. Because of the nature of the program and their desire to reach out to at risk youth, in order to finance the summer program there is a tuition fee of $3000 for SHERPA participants. I am in the process of fundraising this money. I have sent out letters and now must play the waiting game and prayerfully think about other avenues of raising money. Some exciting news is that there is now an easy way for people to give directly to Outdoor Mission Camp without having to mail in checks or go through my GoFundMe page! You can now simply go to the following link:

https://securegive.yfc.net/rshackelford

All you have to do is choose the gift amount, fill out the requested information, and designate “Scottie Hill” as the purpose of the gift. I don’t really know who all reads this blog, if anyone. But if you have stumbled across this page and were perhaps moved by the mission of the SHERPA program or feel inspired to support me, I ask that you would prayerfully considering a financial gift. This is something I believe in and something I think can make an eternal difference. If you are unable to give but are interested in the program, I hope to be able to update this blog throughout the summer and document some of my adventures. I look forward to hearing from anybody with feedback and can’t wait for the things ahead of me this summer!