Wednesday, January 4, 2012

The Church's One Foundation

It's remarkable to think that we are nearly finished with Peru Camp 2012.

The third day of camp was excellent. At crafts, each child made a picture frame for the group picture they will receive at the end of the week. Sports is dominated by soccer and volleyball, but today we mixed it up (and succeeded in getting the kids out of the sun for a bit) by stopping each group for a dance lesson. Not surprisingly, the pool is annual favorite of our campers, and "Super Fun Games" was a blast - complete with street hockey, and trampoline, and a giant inflatable slide. We saw lots of mustaches coming from face painting. Maybe they were pretending to be secret agents in disguise at archery....

Each group also stopped for a bible lesson from the book of Daniel. Today we saw God's grace to Nebuchadnezzar (which is even more difficult to say in Spanish - Nabucodonosor). God showed grace that rescued the king from pride and led to repentance. At our large group meeting, Frankie Daniell from IPC Savannah clearly shared the gospel in teaching the kids about repentance and faith.

We have settled down after a delicious meal and uproarious fellowship at Stuart and Meg Mills' house, and look forward with a little sadness towards the last day at camp.

The highlight of the day was spending time with our bus driver, Pedro. He must have caught on that we are a very musical group, because today when we loaded onto Bob the Bus, Pedro began belting out hymns with a powerfully beautiful voice. As we sang in English, his voice soared over ours in Spanish.

It is breathtaking to see in other parts of the Body of Christ the uniquely crafted image of God.

"Elect from every nation, yet one over all the earth
Her charter of salvation, One Lord, one faith, one birth" Samuel Stone

In Christ Alone,


Monday, January 2, 2012

O The Deep, Deep Love of Jesus - Spread His Praise from shore to shore

The first two days of camp are complete!

After an early morning breakfast we loaded Bob the bus en route to Las Lagunas - a fun and quirky rental facility outside of Trujillo. LL is complete with terraced open air structures of incredible variety, two pools, and a lagoon complete with two very real penguins. Check out our facebook page for pictures.

This morning our team began studying John chapter 11 - the raising of Lazarus from the dead. It is our hope that in seeing the heart of our Savior in the way He lived His life, we will be challenged and comforted in our own work.

The first day is always rather raucous - we have a few minutes to prepare for 200 people at a facility that most of the team had never seen. Thankfully, Stuart Mills (missionary and director of the Parish Woodshop - an economic development venture that has provided jobs for many skilled craftsman in the community while going about the work of discipleship - visit and many other volunteers were hard at work behind the scenes the entire time.

The best part of these first two days was watching our team spring into action. All of the planning and vision of he past year saw life. We saw joy on the faces of everyone involved - joy in serving and the hilarity of summer camp. The language barrier is difficult, but Peru Mission has provided and incredible team of translators.

The night before our first day of camp, we gathered to sing. It was incredible to hear our team sing in praise and thanksgiving to God. On the last verse of the great hymn, O the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus, we began to sing accapella. The entire hotel was filled with 4 part harmony (this team is shockingly talented). We received word later that the staff and guests of the hotel had marveled at the beauty of it all. I pray that the beauty of our song would be reflected in our hearts.

In Christ Alone,

- Zack

Sunday, January 1, 2012

O Dayof Rest and Gladness

Greetings from Trujillo!

After a few days of traveling, we have at last reached our destination. And we could not be more thrilled!

From 6:30am on Friday to 7:00pm on Saturday, we have been on the move. We are incredibly thankful that all of our bags arrived, and with the exception of a few ear aches, our team has been healthy. Two of our team members - Austin and Brandon - had never flown before this trip. They are both pretty cool characters, so if they were nervous, they didn´t let on.

After meeting up in Lima (at 2:00am on Saturday) with Frankie Daniell and his team from IPC Savannah, GA, we spent the night and did some time sight seeing in Lima while waiting on our plane to Trujillo. The crew from Savannah are great! Frankie, his wife Judy, one pastor and one elder from IPC, and counselors from their day camp, Point Pleasant, have been a joy to get to know.

Our new years eve was spent eating dinner in our hotel, and meeting for an overview of the history of camp, mission and vision, cultural education, and an early night to bed. We were considerably exhausted from traveling and lack of sleep on Friday night. But God has provided us a day of rest for His worship and our good. We look forward to worshipping with our brothers and sisters at Arevalo church, and to our full staff orientation with all of our Peru Mission volunteers. Continue to pray for us:

  • That as we have witnessed the grace of Jesus Christ, others would see hearts of grace and truth.

  • That God would prepare and open hearts to the Gospel

  • That we would be a blessing to missionaries, churches, and communities in Peru

  • That we would have good health and stamina

  • For protection as we travel, serve, and sweat

  • That the facilities we rent would be welcoming to our ministry, accomodating, and understanding

  • That we will work well with translators and those learning from us how to run camp

  • Protection of our families that remain home in the States

  • That we will be flexible, patient, understanding, kind, courteous, and loving - especially when we may be tired or things do not go as planned

  • That we would be sensitive to cultural differences, thinking of others above ourselves

Finally, pray that we would rest in Jesus, and worship Him while we encourage His worship amongst children and families here in Trujillo.

O day of rest and gladness, o day of joy and light,

O balm of care and sadness, most beautiful, most bright:

On Thee, the high and lowly, through ages joined in tune,

Sing holy, holy, holy, to the great God Triune.

Today on weary nations the heavenly manna falls;

To holy convocations the silver trumpet calls,

Where Gospel light is glowing with pure and radiant beams,

And living water flowing, with soul refreshing streams.

New graces ever gaining from this our day of rest,

We reach the rest remaining to spirits of the blessed.

To Holy Ghost be praises, to Father, and to Son;

The church her voice upraises to Thee, blessed Three in One.

In Christ Alone,


Wednesday, December 28, 2011

No somos del mundo pero estamos aquí, porque Cristo nos salvó

"I make a decree, that in all my royal dominion people are to tremble and fear before the God of Daniel,

For he is the living God,
enduring forever;
his kingdom shall never be destroyed,
and his dominion shall be to the end.
He delivers and rescues;
he works signs and wonders
in heaven and on earth,
he who has saved Daniel
from the power of the lions.” (Daniel 6:26-27)

Our theme for Twin Lakes in Peru 2012 is the story of Israel's exile and God's faithfulness to Daniel, Hananiah, Azariah, and Mishael. In summer 2010, I wrote a song called "We Are" for our summer camp here in the states. It is based on Daniel 6:26-27, in which Darius confesses Yahweh as Lord after witnessing the power of the One, True God through the miracle of the lion's den. Another TL musician named Jason Bruce recorded the song for me, and Allen Smith translated and recorded the song in spanish.

Allen, a Peru Mission pastor who leads Leadership Training and Discipleship, Missional Community Formation, and Music Development in Trujillo, was the Camp Pastor at Twin Lakes many years ago. During his time at TL, Allen wrote songs for our corporate worship times, and has continued to be a prolific, talented songwriter.

I am excited to hear our campers sing this song in praise to our ever faithful God. It will be a thrill to hear it sung in another language as well.

Below I have posted lyrics and links from which you can download both versions of the song.

My hope is that this song is an encouragement to you.

In Christ Alone,

Zack Owens


For He is the Living God
And He endures forever
His Kingdom shall never be destroyed

And His Rule shall never end
He rescues again and again
He works wonders on heaven and earth

We are called to be faithful
We all belong to the Lord
We are in but not of this world
Because Jesus rescued us

It is He who has saved Daniel from the power of the lions.
It is He who has called us to tear down our idols and worship Christ alone, Christ alone

Él es Dios vivo, permanece para siempre

Su reino jamás será destruido
Su dominio no tendrá fin, Él recata y salva
Hace maravillas en toda la tierra

//Somos llamados ser fieles
Somos del Señor
No somos del mundo pero estamos aquí
Porque Cristo nos salvó//

Él es quien salvó a Daniel de los leones
Él es quien nos llamó a derribar a los ídolos
Y adorar a Dios, ¡solo a Dios!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Camp 2012 Introduction

Greetings from Twin Lakes!

Soon a team from Twin Lakes will embark on a journey to Trujillo, Peru to help facilitate a summer camp for a group of churches. This year, we will be partnering with Frankie Daniell, Director of Independent Presbyterian Church's (Savannah, GA) day camp - Point Pleasant. Both groups can't wait to work together in partnering with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Peru.
We also look forward to partnering with Peru Mission missionaries, without whom this work would be impossible.

A team of around 30 will participate in this work from December 30th to January 7th. In response to the request of churches planted by Peru Mission, Twin Lakes Summer Camp and 1st Presbyterian Church (Jackson, MS) planted a week long day camp for kids in Trujillo in 2007. We continue to facilitate this children’s ministry in order to:

  1. Foster redemptive relationships for evangelism and discipleship,
  2. Open avenues for the Gospel in the lives of entire families,
  3. Train a generation of Christ-like servant leaders.
Our long term goal is to pass this ministry over to developing leadership within the local churches. The entire trip is set up to be a part of what Peru Mission is already doing - encouraging the growth of churches that preach the Gospel and encourage the means of grace within a community. Through these churches and their ministries (economic development, music development, theological education, healthcare, summer camp, and much more) the Gospel of Jesus Christ is being proclaimed in word and in deed for the sake of His worship and glory. Camp is a unique opportunity to build relationships with children of the community, and inroads are made through camp to impact entire neighborhoods. "American" camp - done by groups from the United States and dependent on groups from the United States - is not the end goal of this trip. This camp germinated in the hearts of those in Peru. Here is an excerpt from the original letter asking Twin Lakes to come to Peru:

"...Here in Peru, God has seen fit to send many children to our churches. For instance, our newest church planting effort in the Arevalo community has more than half its Sunday morning attendance in children. It is not uncommon for 60 children to show up without their parents for Lord's Day worship and Sunday School. The Arevalo community is not alone; we also have high attendance of youth at all our churches. God has given us an amazing opportunity to reach the next generation for Christ ... We are convinced that one of the ways the gospel would have an immense impact in the lives of thousands of children is to mimic your summer camp program here in Peru. It is staggering to consider the possibility that in one generation, Trujillo can be transformed into a society filled with converted and committed Christians."

Tuan La and Zack Owens will be leading a team of Twin Lakes Counselors who are thrilled to see God's work overseas and feel privileged to be a part of what He is doing. Please pray for safety, and that Christ would be glorified as we build relationships with our brothers and sisters in Christ in Peru.

Team Members:
  • Anna Blair Brown
  • Aubrey Brown
  • Claire Holmes
  • Mary Claire Jussely
  • Austin "Sharkbait" Marascalco
  • Anna Kristen Mitchell
  • Brandon Renfroe
  • Mallory Stokes
  • Katie Welch
  • Mary Clark Strange

Please visit to find out more about what God is doing through His church in Peru.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

These are the devotionals the team reflected on each morning before camp in 2010. As we adjust back to life in the states, pray that we would continue to see Christ as the only Good Shepherd in our day to day lives. We hope that these are an encouragement to you and your family.

Day 1 – The Only Door

Read John 10:1-8

We are here to point people who are just like us to Jesus Christ for salvation. We were blind, now we see. We cannot pretend to see by our own wisdom or enlightenment. It is only because Christ lives through us that we point past ourselves to Jesus.

In the previous chapter, Jesus had confronted the Pharisees on spiritual blindness. The Pharisees had understanding. They talked the talk and walked the walk. In many ways, every one of us still struggles with claiming that “we see.” We are not better than the Pharisees, and we are not here to train more Pharisees. We are here to show campers to the door – the only door Jesus Christ.

If we seek to make these children love us by being great role models and fun people, but do not do so while abiding in Christ – we are not showing them to the door. If we teach them to be good people and fail to show them that all have sinned and fall short – we are not showing them to the door. We are being liars and strangers. Many already snatch away sheep and teach them, mold them, and hold them in the ways of the world – climbing in another way and acting like their shepherd.

We have the extreme privilege of being part of Christ’s shepherding work. To do that, we must repent of our Pharisaical tendencies. We must repent of ourselves and point to Jesus alone. At times, we must lay down our schedules, our ideas, our opinions, our comfort, our security, our recognition, our leadership positions, our cultures and many other things so that these children do not see us, but see the Only Way, Truth and Life. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus Christ.

Praise be to God that we can be a part of His work!!! He is way in, He is the door, He is the Good Shepherd. I pray that we would be like Him, point towards Him, and live for Him this week at camp.

Day 2 – Enter through the door and be saved, go in, go out, and find Pasture

– by Charles Spurgeon

"I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture." {John 10:9}

Jesus, the great I AM, is the entrance into the true church, and the way of access to God himself. He gives to the man who comes to God by him four choice privileges.

1. He shall be saved. The fugitive manslayer passed the gate of the city of refuge, and was safe. Noah entered the door of the ark, and was secure. None can be lost who take Jesus as the door of faith to their souls. Entrance through Jesus into peace is the guarantee of entrance by the same door into heaven. Jesus is the only door, an open door, a wide door, a safe door; and blessed is he who rests all his hope of admission to glory upon the crucified Redeemer.

2. He shall go in. He shall be privileged to go in among the divine family, sharing the children’s bread, and participating in all their honours and enjoyments. He shall go in to the chambers of communion, to the banquets of love, to the treasures of the covenant, to the storehouses of the promises. He shall go in unto the King of kings in the power of the Holy Spirit, and the secret of the Lord shall be with him.

3. He shall go out. This blessing is much forgotten. We go out into the world to labour and suffer, but what a mercy to go in the name and power of Jesus! We are called to bear witness to the truth, to cheer the disconsolate, to warn the careless, to win souls, and to glorify God; and as the angel said to Gideon, "Go in this thy might", even thus the Lord would have us proceed as his messengers in his name and strength.

4. He shall find pasture. He who knows Jesus shall never want. Going in and out shall be alike helpful to him: in fellowship with God he shall grow, and in watering others he shall be watered. Having made Jesus his all, he shall find all in Jesus. His soul shall be as a watered garden, and as a well of water whose waters fail not.

Day 3 – Abundant Life in Christ’s Fold

Read John 10:10-12

The language used here to describe the thief is the same that is used to describe Satan in other parts of scripture. His lies are subtle, often unnoticeable. The sins we commit become socially tolerable even within the church. We don’t see the evil that is out there in the world or the sin that is within our own hearts. The good intentioned religious person can easily teach lies and destroy true worship and faith in God – all in the name of good deeds and loving others. It looks like the teachings of Jesus – but Jesus is nowhere to be found.

The good shepherd comes to bring life. Abundant life. Content life. Abundant does not mean health, wealth, and happiness. Nor does it mean that you will be without struggles with sin and tragedy and pain. We can have abundant life because He laid His life down for His sheep. He is no stranger to pain and sorrow. But He knew no sin. He took the wrath of God for things He did not and could not do. He served and washed feet as the King of the Universe. He gave up riches for poverty. Holiness for our mess. He took on that life of disgust so that we can live as children, heirs, and beloved sheep. Sheep aren’t that lovely either. They are smelly and slightly stupid. Yet He loved us in the midst of that.

Our God is incarnational and loving to the point of dwelling among us. He could have made us reach up to God and show some effort before He saved us. He didn’t. He came when we were enemies, when we were dead and loved us to the point of death, even death on a cross.

We are not Jesus this week. We are not the Good Shepherd. We are still sheep. Rejoice first that your name is written in the Lamb’s book of life. Gratitude that you are saved will result in your taking on attributes of the shepherd. It’s strange, but we are sheep called to be shepherds this week. We look no different than those we serve because we are not different from those we serve. We need a shepherd just as badly as these kids do. Today ask God through the Holy Spirit to transform your attitudes and desires to be those that lay down your life for each other and the people we are here to serve. The only response to having a good shepherd is complete and utter humility in the light of God’s grace.

Day 4 – Not a Hired Hand

Read John 10:12-15

What will you do when you are called to minister and things get difficult - when you are insulted, unappreciated, and betrayed? How will you respond when the people mistreat you, when your team member destroys what you were trying to do, when your freedom is not acknowledged and you are not shown the respect that you feel like you deserve?

All of us have been there. And all of us have a natural tendency to run. We all have a natural self preservation instinct - “I am in danger – I’m getting out of this situation.” Sometimes what is in danger is our pride, our dignity, our respect, our reputation, or our physical safety. This, in our minds, justifies our flight.

Let me tell you this straight – we are in sin when we do this. Self protection and preservation are not attributes of a follower of Christ. We are called to be last, not first. Serve not be served. We are called to lay down our lives as Christ laid His own down for the church. Jesus sacrificed what we so often hold on to dearly for the sake of our salvation.

We are not hired hands – we are children of God and called to be like Him in our limited, imperfect way. Like I said yesterday, we are not Jesus. But we are made new. We are not our own, we were bought with a price and the Holy Spirit is now guiding our steps and enabling our living like Jesus. We are without excuse. We are set free from living for ourselves. In the light of the Gospel, we can live thinking of others first. We love others because Christ first loved us.

The Father knows and loves His sheep. Those He has called and adopted now care for them on earth. We are called to see them and treat them in the same way that Christ sees them and treats them – as beloved. We are called to lay down our lives for these campers. To do this, we must die to ourselves and live to Christ.

This community fostered through laying down our lives for the sake of the Gospel – called the Church – imitates the intimate community of the Trinity. It is a blessing to have that kind of life with one another and for one another. So remember, you are not just a hired hand who will run or fight for yourself when the going gets tough. You are called to lay down your life for His sheep as He has laid down His life for you.

Day 5 – One Flock, One Shepherd

Read John 10:16-18

No one can pretend to know and understand completely the parables of Jesus. He told them so that those who have ears to hear may listen. I pray that this week the Holy Spirit has spoken through God’s word and led us to repentance and faith that manifests itself in a Christ-like life.

He told us that He has sheep that are not of this fold. In the context of the previous chapter and His audience, it makes sense that “this fold” is referring to the Jewish people. Jesus made it clear towards the end of His ministry that redemption was to be extended to Gentiles – every tribe, tongue, and nation. He accomplished this ministry greatly through His apostle Paul. The specific work has been carried out by His followers ever since. We often think of overseas, cross cultural missions when we think of bringing in sheep outside of the fold, and that is very true. But what is the ultimate goal? I believe it can be lost easily by His sheep.

The goal is one flock, and one shepherd. Jesus Christ’s purpose, given by the Father, was to lay down His life that His people would be redeemed. His people can be found in all nations. But there is no outward sign that shows us who are His. We can simply share the Gospel in word and deed. The Holy Spirit is actively working in God’s people, drawing them to repentance and faith. We have been a part of that!

But it does not end here in Peru. You have the immense opportunity to be the active extensions of Christ’s work in the world – but that starts wherever you are. You are salt and light, not just when you go on mission trips or work soup kitchens or teach Sunday school – but as you live your life.

Know that the hardest people to love are not the kids here in Peru. They are easy to love. The hardest people to love are the people you see every day. They are the people who you can’t stand, the people who value things that you despise. They are often your spouses, your co-workers, and your closest friends. Leave here and love your roommate. Forgive your parents. Stop resenting your brothers and sisters. Don’t look down on people whose culture or interests you find ridiculous.

Leave Peru and continue to share Christ through word and deed. Be kind to strangers. Love your enemies. Pray for those who persecute you. God is accomplishing His work of reconciliation through you!

Thank you for serving this week. You may never see the fruit of your labors, but you may have planted seeds that will change lives forever. You may see people in heaven because of what God did this week. We may one day worship with these campers before the Throne of Grace in heaven in the same language – as one flock with One Shepherd.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

About to board in Miami to New Orleans - Here are a few more snapshots from our week. More blogging and more pictures to come! Pray for the team as we process and meditate on what God did this week. Pray for quick recovery of gastro-intestinal comfort and rest as we enjoy our Sabbath day tomorrow.

"And I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice. So there will be one flock, one shepherd." John 10:16