Thank you very much for the consideration of supporting Sonshine Specialized Camping Ministries. We have been partnering with churches for 39 years to serve students and staff on houseboats so that they would experience a deeper, dynamic relationship with Jesus Christ. Your involvement allows us to accomplish this mission. On houseboats campers grow spiritually through morning quiet times, small groups, evening lessons from their youth pastor, and powerful rooftop worship sessions amidst the breathtaking sunsets reflecting the Lord's beauty. During the daytime students enjoyed wakeboarding, waterskiing, knee boarding, and riding the six-man banana. In the evening, many life changing rooftop conversations take place among campers, their leaders, Sonshine staff, and best friends beneath millions of stars. Many thanks and praise to God for 39 incredibly successful summers. We are also very thankful for the friends and supporters who the Lord has used to provide the houseboats, ski boats, gas, and food needed to make the camp come to life week in and week out. As we enter our 40th summer, we ask for you to consider financially supporting Sonshine. We are a religious non-profit, like a church, so your gift is tax deductible. Please take some time to pray to the Lord and ask Him if it is His desire for you to participate in our ministry. As God has faithfully provided for Sonshine Specialized Camping Ministries through the years, our desire as a community is to continually grow and that happens through your giving according to several biblical principles:
Giving from your first fruits
Throughout the Old Testament, the Israelites were consistently commanded to give from the first fruits of their crops as an acknowledgement that everything they had came from God. Proverbs 3:9 says, "Honor the Lord from your wealth, and from the first of all your produce." God does not ask for what’s left after we’ve paid for everything else. Our giving to him should be from our first fruits and Sonshine believes that these "first fruits" should be directed to your local church.
2 Corinthians 9:7 says, “Each man should do what he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.” God doesn’t want us to give out of duty—he wants us to give because we love Him. We should give what it is in our hearts to give with joy and thanksgiving. We ask you to support Sonshine Specialized Camping Ministries cheerfully!
In Mark 12:41-44, Jesus was watching people put their money into the temple treasury. Rich people threw in large amounts. And then a poor widow came along and put in a fraction of a penny. Jesus commended her. The others had given out of their wealth, but she had given sacrificially—she put in all that she had to live on. Jesus makes it clear that our gifts to God should be substantial enough to be considered sacrificial. And giving isn’t sacrificial unless it’s a sacrifice. God wants us to demonstrate our love for him through sacrificial giving. When we give we allow God to prove his faithfulness to us. We ask you to support Sonshine Specialized Camping Ministries sacrificially.
These are some reasons why you should support Sonshine Ministries.
Reason # 1 - Mission Sending
Sonshine has become one of the great leadership training programs for the modern church. Staff at Sonshine gain clarity on who they are in Christ and importantly, who they are to become in Christ. Almost invariably staff people tell us that coming through our leadership development program (Crew, Barnabas, Trainee, Driver) gave them a much deeper commitment to a lifestyle of deploying their God given talents in His service. Staff from Sonshine today have served in ministry at some of the world’s largest Christian institutions. From the eastern seaboard of the United States to the western seaboard to every continent and nearly every nation on the earth our staff have gone forth with a vision for ministry in their profession and a passion to lead through sacrificial service. From Broadway, to the David Letterman Show, to the Jay Leno show, to radio and television broadcasting our staff have brought the light of Christ. We have staff who are modeling Jesus by the hundreds in the classrooms of America today. Many staff have left their tenure at Sonshine and committed themselves to full-time missions work as engineers, helicopter pilots, businessmen, boat technicians, evangelists, pastors, consultants, medical professionals, and educators.
To illustrate the critical role Sonshine plays in building leaders for Christ’s church I offer this example. A former staff person contacted me several months ago. This person was minutes away from meeting with the vice president of a country to discuss best practices for privatizing a government controlled economy. The staff person shared with me how the lessons that person learned as a leader for Sonshine Ministries remain some of the most valuable tools that person uses for high level negotiations and consensus building. I want to emphasize that the depth of development our staff experience at Sonshine is a reflection to the investment we make in them. We are not using clever rhetoric or high-powered audio-visual tools. Instead we invest an unusually high amount of time and money to place staff with our Administrative team who function like pastors during the summer who pour into the staff. Our Admin team take the staff through well-developed, pre-planned curriculum which seeks to draw out of the staff a heightened sensitivity to God’s call on their lives and the unique gifting He’s given them to carry out His mission. Our admin team are trained to ask questions that push staff to become more defined on where God has taken them in the past and what He may have in store for them going forward. The leadership development of our staff happens because it’s a very high priority for the camp so we commit substantial time and resources to it. The leadership development program and sending power of Sonshine Ministries is a very important reason to consider supporting our ministry.
Reason #2 - Changed Lives
The leadership development program is very leveraged. While hundreds come to Christ each summer through Sonshine and thousands commit themselves to Him anew each summer, the evangelistic effect of our staff literally extends for decades after their service at Sonshine and by my estimate has easily influenced millions positively for Christ. The magnitude of our staff’s impact on the world is awesome; however, the power of the summer to change campers’ lives is awesome as well.
Many students, years later, have reflected on their week on houseboats as a sword in the sand moment where they once and for all surrendered their life’s pains, regrets, and self-destructive behaviors to the cross. Thousands of students over the years have abandoned addictions, abusive relationships, self-hatred, indifference, and apathy during their week on houseboats. God has chosen to reveal himself in a deeply intimate and transforming way to the students and staff who join us for their houseboat experience. Supporting Sonshine is an investment in one more abused child finding hope and choosing to proactively deal with their difficult situation. Supporting Sonshine is an investment in thousands of kids who have or will choose to turn their life 180 degrees from a path that leads to physical and emotional pain and regret. When I was a Sonshine houseboat driver I had a camper who came to know Jesus on houseboats tell me, “I know there’s a God because I’ve seen Him this week in so many eyes.” Supporting one more child who will see the world with a new set of eyes is a very important reason to give to Sonshine. Supporting Sonshine is very much an investment in individual kids who will look back at their time on houseboats as that moment in their lives where God delivered them from a very dark place and positively altered the course of their lives for months, years, and decades later. I can personally speak on the power of Sonshine to change lives because I attended Sonshine in junior high and high school. My testimony is that God used Sonshine to save me from a dark, painful path of worldliness and self-indulgence. My experiences at Sonshine cemented for me that there is no better place to be than in loving communion with God through Jesus Christ. During my teenage years, Sonshine was God’s primary vehicle for providing me with a passion for seeking God and living according to His call above all else. The foundation He built in me through my time at camp has now provided for me decades of better living through power of His spirit. I can’t emphasize enough the potential of the camp to impact other kids like it impacted me. My story is not the exception. For twenty-one years I’ve seen kids come to houseboats and leave transformed. Some of those kids today have children of their own and God is still using the work He began in them one summer on the Delta or Shasta to bring His joy, fulfillment, and purpose to them, their spouses, and children. I could list many more reasons to consider supporting Sonshine Ministries. I’ve devoted a significant portion of my time, talent, and treasure to this ministry over the last twenty-one years. At no other time in history is the ministry more strategically poised to carry its mission with greater power and reach. Our philosophy of ministry and sacrificial leadership materials are currently being used by pastors of several churches. Educators have adapted and implemented our materials for teaching students, teachers, and administrators to build healthier relationships through servant based leadership. Nearly every day staff, former staff, and youth leaders are contacting our office to discuss strategies and best practices for more effectively leading their organizations. One of our defining statements is as follows: “We are a magnet for leaders seeking widespread global change in business, education, and the institutional church.” Our vision is gaining speed and momentum.
My goal is that every person who has been positively impacted in some way by Sonshine Ministries support the camp today so that we have the resources to bring our ministry model with greater speed to a far greater audience.
President, SSCM inc.