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The People of Praise Responds to Recent Press
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July 11

The People of Praise Responds to Recent Press

Over the past few weeks the People of Praise has received a great deal of attention in the press. Here, we aim to correct the record and provide clarity on a few important points.

In Allendale, Community Grows With Camp and a Garden

Ed Konczeski (Tampa) helped organize a community garden as part of the summer camp put on by Action volunteers.

By Chris Meehan and Sean Connolly. Photos: Sam Mertz and Laura Brummer.

Action volunteers wrapped up another summer of work in Shreveport’s Allendale neighborhood on August 2. The volunteers left in their wake a trail of happy children, grateful neighbors, repaired homes and a community garden flush with growing fruits and vegetables.

At a concluding barbecue, the children swarmed everywhere, playing football and jumping rope in the 98-degree heat. A few neighbors wandered down the block to check on the fruits and vegetables sprouting in the community garden. Gospel music blared from the speakers of a nearby car as girls performed a praise dance they had learned at summer camp. Nathan Barrett stood on a picnic table to address the group of neighbors, volunteers and Shreveport branch members, speaking of Pentecost and leading a prayer that God would pour out his Spirit on young and old alike.

Just before the barbecue, Patti Deakin drove around the neighborhood picking up older neighbors. One woman, whose granddaughter had attended camp, brought three containers of food, along with a chocolate sheet cake with frosted flowers on top and a message written in sugary lettering, “God Bless the POP.”

“This is my way to say thank you to all of you,” she told Patti.

    A boy tries on firefighting pants during a visit to camp made by Shreveport firefighters.

    In total, sixty-four volunteers served in Allendale this summer. They spent their mornings running a camp for children and in the afternoon tackled projects for neighbors and the Christians in Mission team. A staff of 13 (including seven college students) kept the volunteers fed, housed and organized, with a big assist from seven more high school student interns who served as camp leaders, prepared meals and kept records.

    Most days, more than 50 children came to camp, with an attendance high of 67, breaking last year’s record. The camp was organized into seven groups: three for boys, three for girls and a combined preschool group. Sam Mertz (South Bend) oversaw the boys’ groups. A chalkboard sign posted near the boys’ gathering place listed rules (among them: No Fighting) along with the consequence for using foul language—five push ups. The sign bore the boys’ signatures, indicating their acceptance of the terms. Colleen Murray oversaw the girls’ groups. She says one highlight came when a local grandmother proudly sang a version of the Lord’s Prayer that her granddaughters had taught her after learning it at camp.

    A girl shows off a green pepper that grew in the community garden.

    The community garden was the brainchild of retiree Ed Konczeski (Tampa), a lifelong gardener with experience growing plants in clay soil. He planned the garden in the spring, working with Ben Reinhardt to collect landscape timbers (needed for raised beds) and 600 feet of pipe and other components for an irrigation system. The Tampa branch covered the costs of seeds, starter plants and supplies. A former neighbor offered his empty lot as the site for the garden and a Shreveport dentist loaned his rototiller.

    Action intern Cassie Busekrus (Oahu) managed the project, assigning responsibility for plots among the various camp groups. Cassie says she enjoyed watching five-year-old campers gently carrying small paper cups filled with water to the green bean plants they were tending. Tomatoes and peppers arrived first, but now cantaloupes, strawberries, eggplants, lettuce, carrots, spinach, radishes, cucumbers, watermelon, squash, okra and green beans are coming in strong. “The kids were motivated to help, even outside of normal camp hours—especially after we referred to the weeds as ‘the bad guys,’” Cassie says. “I can’t believe we’ll have any trouble getting volunteers for picking.”

    Joe Bulger (South Bend) supervised the work crews who sweated through the afternoons. “We worked on five repair projects for our neighbors. We installed sheetrock on a ceiling, did some interior and exterior painting, built a retaining wall, rebuilt a front porch and repaired a wheelchair ramp,” he says.

    Volunteer Stephen Magill, 15, (northern Virginia) says a highlight came on a walk through the neighborhood with several other volunteers. “A man came up to us and told us that his sister had died of cancer and his son was in jail. He asked us to pray with him. He said he knew we were part of the People of Praise. It was really awesome!”

Responses

  1. peggy go says:

    WOW! Sounds wonderful!

  2. Laura Gleason says:

    LOVED every single one of those stories. What a blessing to Allendale to have so many Spirit-filled people in it.

  3. chris urbanski says:

    Enjoying the fruit of our labors in more than one way! Glory to God!
    Chris

  4. Heather Ronayne says:

    It sounds like the Allendale Camp is a blessing to everyone there. Their garden is such a great metaphor for how the love of the Lord seems to be ever-growing there in Shreveport!

  5. Walt Seale says:

    Thank you to everyone for your wonderful work. Thank you Lord for planting us in Allendale.

  6. Maria Elliott says:

    It's clear our POP presence brought more of the Lord's glory to shine in Shreveport and touched myriad lives in countless ways. Such a blessing to hear about this! Kudos to you, brothers and sisters who toiled fruitfully for Him! May His Name be praised!

  7. Nancy Grams says:

    All the stories of our presence in Allendale is so faith-building. What marvels the Lord is doing in our midst as young and old alike do their part to build the kingdom. Thanks to all who have given of their time and their hearts to serve God's people.

  8. Tim Hammer says:

    It's great to see the names of you that I recognize from Buffalo Camp and from working with you in earlier years in Allendale. You are all making a great impact in the building of His Kingdom and making a difference in the world. Your sacrifice of work is encouraging to all of us. Keep telling your stories to all who will listen of the great things that God is doing.

  9. Robin Gonzalez says:

    It brings tears of joy to my eyes to see how our Father's light is growing brighter and stronger each day, each summer, each year. Glory to our Lord and all of POP for the wonderful work that is going on. Thank you and may HE continue to be G L O R I F I E D!

  10. Savoria Mosley says:

    God is awesome! Looking forward to what He will do next!

  11. Nanci Panos says:

    What a work! Such vision! So many of my brothers and sisters dedicated to empower others in the Spirit!

    Thank You for your presence in this work, and your gift of time.!

  12. Julie Walters says:

    I'm overwhelmed with gratitude for all the work that everyone has done. You have brought Christ's presence to Allendale. That must be why the children's eyes shine the way they do!

  13. Paul Kane says:

    Glory! I am struck by work we are doing together, particularly in how we are bringing the truth that "There is a new way to live in Christ". Teaching the children at camp how to forgive and get along will have impact for generations to come.

  14. Karen Heintzelman says:

    Awesome!! Thankyou for loving God's children!!

  15. Fred & Sue Smith says:

    Thank you Lord for building Your kingdom in Allendale in 2013 , in the lives of your people : Campers , Cooks , Gardeners , CIM Family , Shreveport branch , the Kids , their Families , the Action Youth , the Branches in support and Publications - Your Kingdom is real , is here , is seen , is shared , Glory to You Lord !

  16. Mary Duddy says:

    Wow, great story....love the garden!

  17. Pat Benito says:

    Yea God!! Though many parts we are all one body; working together to build His Kingdom & for His glory!!

  18. Anne Brewer says:

    Praise God for a successful camp! Thanks for all the sweat equity in doing construction. So glad the garden is flourishing! Thanks for all the hard work making it all possible!

  19. Gina Kadera says:

    Its taken me a little while to get to reading this - What A True Blessing for all us and what a way to honor the Lord!
    Thank you for all of your wonderful service.

  20. Kathry Kelly says:

    Thank you brothers and sisters for your awesome love.
    Brings joy to my heart!

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