Oh, how we love to be with people! The staff at UPI are extremely relational. I suppose that’s one of the reasons why the Lord has called us to this ministry. Sitting together over a cup of coffee or sharing a meal were almost impossible for over a year. We are praising God that many of the protocols we have been under are now being relaxed so that we can once again begin to meet for in-person gatherings. It’s been so good for our souls.
Two of the ministries we greatly missed last year were Maranatha Bible Camp in Michigan and Camp-of-the-Woods in upstate New York. These are ministries that have been a part of UPI for close to 30 years. Deep friendships have been developed with many families who annually attend these camps. In some cases, we are now ministering to the kids of the kids we poured love into 20 years ago. Yes, we are getting older, but I like to think that we were young when we started. There are many benefits to having consistent, genuine, Christ-like character being modeled to multiple generations. Our staff see the game of baseball as the “lure” to draw kids and parents so that we can share Biblical truth. We thoroughly enjoy the game of baseball, but the clinics and the games that we play with the kids provide us with an opportunity to love and encourage others like Jesus would. Many of the kids who come to these camps will make first-time decisions to follow Jesus and some have even been baptized after our camps in Lake Michigan and Lake Pleasant. We recruit former professional baseball players to help with the camps and that provides us the opportunity to deepen our disciple relationship with them.
These camps help us to live out the UPI motto which is to “reach, teach, train to send”.
Brian Hommel and Terry Evans led Maranatha again this year. Former MLB players Russ Ortiz and Nick Hundley, along with retired Angels’ minor leaguer, Bill Curtis, helped with the camp. New York just recently relaxed their protocols, so Mickey led the COTW clinics by himself with the help of many of the dad’s- some who were kids when Mickey first started leading 20 years ago. Rejoice with us as several of the kids made life-changing decisions for Christ!