Recent grandparent Lorna Heikkinen, who has taught 1st grade here at FCC for the past couple of decades, remembers going to Fetters Hot Springs in the Santa Rosa area that year. She was on a team with Sue Hamby (daughter of FCC member Dagmar Hamby) and another young woman. Female team members were required to wear dresses while on R.O. at that time. The three ladies got a taste of “missionary living” when they discovered they would be housed in a rundown shack covered with weeds and no locks. Upon arriving in the town, they went door to door inviting kids to come to VBS… and kids did! With God’s help they were able to put on a successful camp. Lorna says that R.O. was always a highlight for her, especially seeing how God would work through her and other young Christians.
In 1971, R.O. headed east to the Sierra Foothills. Nancy Olsen, who retired from her role as FCC Children’s Ministries Director 4 years ago, was a college student that year on the team that went to the town of Long Barn. After a week of VBS, the team then went and worked at the just-planted Marin Covenant Church (Pat and David Bleckley’s son Matt is currently the Director of Middle School Ministries there). Nancy says her experiences in serving with R.O. and Day (Kids) Camp led to her pursuing an elementary teaching credential as well as her years of children’s ministry here at First Covenant. Other team members that year included current Covenant pastor Brian Wiele, Fuller Seminary professor Kurt Fredrickson, and FCC’s own licensed pastor/therapist David Bergesen.
In the year 1990, I went on R.O. as a high school student. By that time, there were 7 teams all located around Sonora. I went to San Andreas. When I began that week, I would have said I was not a Christian, but by the end of it I was. I proceeded to participate in R.O. for the next 5 summers. It was a huge part of my faith development.
This week we have teams in Eureka, South San Francisco, Patterson and Ripon. Last week a team of seven went to Angels Camp led by Middle School Intern Jed Stephens and Meghan Mcquaid. In all, we have 44 people taking part in R.O. this summer. Since we do not always go to rural places anymore, R.O. has come to stand for “Reaching Out”. Regardless of where we go or what R.O. stands for, this ministry continues to bear fruits in the children we meet, the churches we serve, and - evident from the countless examples in this article - in our teens who are challenged to take new steps in their faith. Please be in prayer for our teams as they serve this week. Especially pray for our young people to listen for how God may be calling them to serve Him not just while they are on R.O., but in the years that follow as well.