Dear Firs Family & Friends,
Not only is the summer of 2019 in the rearview mirror, but Thanksgiving and then Christmas are on the near horizon. In between, we have served and continue to serve churches, children and youth, and even began a brand new Firs program called “Firs & Fiddleheads Forest School.” All I will say, for now, is that this new preschool program is very cool and extends our reach into the neighboring community in an extremely creative manner.
I am happy to report that this first weekend in November sees us serving our first group of the season up at the Chalet. What follows will be another busy season of winter activities up on the mountain. The thing is, not all that long ago, I seriously doubted that we would have a Chalet season at all, as a failed sewer system put that in jeopardy. But God is good, the new system is getting near to completion and the heavy snow is holding off while that happens.
The negative publicity The Firs received at the beginning of the summer knocked us sideways, both emotionally and financially. We lost about 18% of our expected summer registrations, along with the subsequent revenue loss. On top of that came the news of the Chalet and we couldn’t help wonder what God was up to. Our focus, our mission and our programs hadn’t changed, but we found ourselves, nonetheless, under attack, misrepresented and branded by some as an unloving, uncaring organization – the polar opposite of what we work to be.
Time will be needed for us to sort through all that took place this year. We are very motivated to do better in every arena, from hiring, to communicating, to understanding the core of who we are. There are many layers to this effort, as you can imagine. Meanwhile, we have been encouraged by God’s faithfulness. We were encouraged because thousands of kids still went through our programs this summer at Firwood and Fircreek and had an experience that, for some, was life changing. Summer staff members, struggling with what to make of all that happened, stepped up to our purpose and mission and, with a united front, helped campers “encounter Jesus and experience the love of God”. Nothing was more significant coming out of this summer than that.
But, one more thing deserves attention. As we faced an unknown future, financially, a well-known God did an amazing thing. He prompted over 65 people to come forward in support of our ministries and to give of their resources in order to help with the shortfall. Many did this without prompting, some giving to The Firs for the first time ever, and many gave more than they have ever given. As a result, our shortfall (over $200,000) has been made up and we now face the end of our fiscal year without the prospects of a net loss. An absolutely incredible blessing!
Our goal, in the weeks and months ahead, is to pay attention to God and what He is saying and doing. And, as usual, that means to pay attention to the opportunities we have in regards to people. Before you go on to other things, I would love for you to watch this brief video https://thefirs.org/#video. It’s a glimpse of the people we served last summer and I’m certain you will be moved by it and reminded of the reason The Firs exists.
Serving Him together,