Today is the day that nearly 100 teenagers from all across the country converge on Grace Church for this summer’s Operation Barnabas orientation. Operation Barnabas is a ministry of CE National out of Winona Lake, Indiana. Operation Barnabas teams are developed to give growing Christian senior high youth such a thirst for ministry, that upon their return, they will have a greater desire to serve Christ in their lives. The name comes from a Bible Character seen In Acts 11:23-24 which says:
"When Barnabas arrived and saw the evidence of the grace of God, he was glad and encouraged them all to remain true to the Lord with all their hearts. He was a good man, full of the Holy Spirit and faith. And a great number of people were brought to the Lord."
At the end of the summer, each "OB" member will have experience with sharing his/her faith, puppets, music, clowning, drama, public performance, testimonies and team relationships. He/she will have learned forty verses of scripture, been a part of a discipleship group, studied a book of the Bible, and done numerous manual chores. Each young person also receives a personal evaluation from leaders while having an opportunity to learn about the joys of serving in local church ministries. He/she will know what it's like to sleep on both a floor and a bed ... eat church carry-in dinners and McDonalds ... work in inner-city as well as rural settings. Although some teams could be as small as 20 members or as large as 45, the ratio of adult leaders to students is 1:5 to encourage quality training. Please bear in mind, a young person is chosen primarily on character and attitude, not talent. Each applicant must be recommended by his/her church to participate in this life-changing experience.
There are two different types of Operation Barnabas teams. The Operation Barnabas domestic teams travel within the United States and are traditionally what people think of when they hear of Operation Barnabas. Our Operation Barnabas International team (OBI) has traveled in Brazil, the Philippines and Hawaii, Mexico City, and Thailand. Participants on OBI receive much of the same training as domestic OBers, but OBI has a special emphasis in cross-cultural ministry. It is encouraged, but not required, that students go on a domestic OB team first and then consider OBI if there is an interest in overseas ministry.
What are the benefits of Operation Barnabas? Students will receive strong ministry training; ministry skill development; emphasis on local church ministry; strong adult leaders who are trained in youth ministry; the excellence and tradition of 33 years of OB training; and the challenge to show and share the love of Jesus. Please be praying for Operation Barnabas while they are with us and all summer long. Take time to get to know them so that you can be praying for them by name. These teens and leaders will be working right along side of us for our Rodeo and Western Event later this month. As a result, may we all become more like the Barnabas of the Bible!