Dear Firs Council & friends,
Greetings in the name of Jesus – thank you for taking the time to read this letter. My name is Lem Usita, and I am looking forward to meeting so many of you in the next few months. It is an honor and a privilege to be the next Firs Executive Director, and I am humbled by the opportunity to get to do so. I am also so excited about the work that God has done and continues to do at The Firs. I know that you love the work and ministry of The Firs or you would not have received this letter, so thank you for all that you’ve done and will continue to do for the work that the Lord is doing at The Firs.
As an introduction, I would like to share a little about who I am and where I am from. I was born in the Philippines, and my family moved to Hawaii when I was 4 and I grew up on the island of Oahu. I am a pastor’s kid and older brother to my younger brother and sister, Lev and Larisa. After graduating from high school, I moved to Ohio to study at Cedarville College in Cedarville, OH, earning a Bachelor’s in Bible with an emphasis in Christian Education, Youth Ministry. My studies continued, earning a Master’s from Biola University, as well as a Doctorate in Education. My doctoral dissertation focus is Adolescent Identity Formation in Online Space, studying how one gains a sense of identity and self online.
As a pastor’s kid, I grew up involved in ministry, singing and teaching at church, so I was a youth pastor for many years as well as a worship pastor in a few churches. For over 18 years, I have been involved in Christian Higher Education as a professor and Vice President of Student Life, teaching at multiple universities. I am passionate about the Next Generation of leaders in the church and our world, mentoring and training pastors and leaders for the church and the marketplace.
I lived in the Bellingham area serving as a Next Gen Pastor at a local church from 2017-2019. I spent a few summers speaking at Firwood, a few winters speaking up at the Chalet, and then also speaking at The Firs Annual Meeting in 2019. One of the things that I love about The Firs is the fact that spaces throughout The Firs are set apart for the work of the Holy Spirit. The life change and impact that happens as people interact with Jesus at The Firs and Firwood is the main reason that I want to be involved with the ministry at The Firs. God is working and moving at The Firs, and I want to follow God’s leading and ministry at The Firs. It is a space where people can experience God, and I want to continue to help create the space for others to experience the love of God at The Firs.
We are already working on the programming for the summer, with all of our programs up and running this summer. Pending state mandates and the ability to run camp, we will continue to run the Forest Preschool and summer programming at Fircreek. The summer is filling up at the Retreat Center, as groups are starting to come back and book their retreats. We also just hired a Firwood Director, so we will be programming for Firwood and hope to run at least 7 weeks of program and 3 weeks of guest groups. We will be creating spaces for children to experience the love of God and at the same time, be a resource for families that need a place for their children to go.
There is so much excitement about campers coming back to The Firs, Fircreek, and Firwood for the summer. There will be so many things that need to be done in order to prepare for all of this excitement, so will you be praying for us as we prepare for the summer program at all locations? Please pray that we will be able to recruit the summer staff necessary to run these programs this summer. Pray that we will be able to fill all the slots that are necessary to continue to run these programs this summer, and that are also necessary to continue to run The Firs, and that we capitalize on the excitement of these programs starting up again.
Looking forward to the next 100 years of The Firs; the fir tree provides the perfect analogy for how we need to prepare for what God has before us. The extensive root system of a fir tree – the rich history and heritage of the way that God worked in the past allows the tree to grow and reach into new spaces that it has never reached before. It is only by anchoring in the past that we can keep moving forward into the future.
I would also covet your prayers for myself; that God would continue to reveal His plans for the future. He has shown Himself faithful in the first 100 years and now we build for the next 100 years. Let’s continue to pray faithfully for God to give us discernment and wisdom to reach for new ways The Firs can help people experience the Love and Saving Grace of Jesus.
Thank you very much,
Lemuel Usita Ed.D.