This June marks the 20th Anniversary of Amor’s Family Camp! I was first introduced to Amor through Family Camp so it holds a special place in my heart. Dean and Amy Mathis have lead this trip with Amor since the beginning so who better than Amy Mathis to ask a few questions about it…
April - So Amy, how did it all start?
Amy - Dean and I had been taking High School and college students on Amor trips for 15 years and had seen first-hand how Amor’s home building in Jesus name morphed our students into champions of the faith. Through this experience, thy became convinced that you can change the world by helping one family at a time. They had experienced Jesus call to action in real time and embraced this approach to life as their new normal.
Unfortunately when they returned home their families saw their new normal as anything but normal. The parents of our students were OK with a little dose of Jesus in their lives but not the radical call to discipleship - following Christ with their whole hearts. Dean, Scott, Gayla and I realized that if we wanted to intentionally disciple the next generation of students to live out the call of Christ on their lives, we needed to intentionally disciple the entire family as well. So twenty years ago Family Camp was birthed with the goal of helping families become missional families who lived on purpose for Christ’s glory at home and around the world.
April – Looking back over the last 20 years of Family Camp what are your top two favorite memories?
Amy - By far, I think for Dean, Scott, Gayla and myself, the greatest memories we share are how Amor’s Family Camp has shaped the hearts of our sons, Jordan, Luke and Joel to be more like the heart of Jesus for the poor and marginalized. When Joel was just 3 years old, (FYI Joel came to Family Camp for his first time at 8 weeks of age), he was passing out sandwiches to hungry children at VBS before we started our singing & teaching times. I remember the joy on his sweet little face as he knew he was doing something great in Jesus’ name by feeding his new friends at our Fiesta de Jesus that week.
Equally as precious to me are the memories of the American families that have returned over and again throughout all the years of Family Camp. It has been a privilege to witness their children grow in Christ-likeness as they also served in similar ways at Family Camp. These experiences resulted in us all becoming a part of each other’s family spiritual journey and lives year round.
April – What is unique about Family Camp compared to most mission trips?
Amy - Family Camp is unique because it is not just a group of believers from one church, rather it is made up of families from a number of churches all over the county. Additionally, Family Camp creates a relational dynamic seldom found anywhere else - one of Dads, Moms, and Kids from both sides of the border working together on a God-sized goal of building a home in one week. As a result relationships are built with the families we serve and your family comes home hungry to help others right in their own neighborhood.
It is not only about Building a house and doing community outreach, rather it is also about family members of all ages praying, laughing and loving each other together all week long.
April – Do you have an idea of the magnitude of the impact Family camp has had over the last 20 years?
Amy – In addition to all the families we have built homes for we have a number of stories of American families quitting jobs to make themselves more available for Christ’s service back home, moving to mission fields, career changes that recalibrate their lives on God’s dreams rather than our focus on the “American Dream”. Also I have had a front row seat in watching our sons and daughters sensing God’s calling on their lives to make missions their life’s work. All the above is true whether they have come just once or to multiple Family Camps, it all has become a part of the rhythm of their family’s lives back home and abroad
April – Can you give us a sneak peek into what this year’s 20th Anniversary Family Camp will be like?
Amy – Absolutely…This year’s theme is “Back to the Red Letters”, meaning we are first looking BACK to how Jesus called us to start Family Camp 20 years ago. Then we will explore Jesus’ teachings interactively to determine what He is calling us to do in the FUTURE. Creating all kinds of fun theme parties from the backdrop of the “Back to the Future” movie series…(i.e., a “50’s Dance”, a “Western Party & Hoe Down”; a “Futuristic Party” another night) Plus our beloved Campfire stories, Party Bus Jams, fantastic worship and a mighty time in the Word of God all week long!