By Sharon Mager
DEEP CREEK, Md.—For eight years, Deep Creek Lake Resort Minister Julie DuVall and volunteers from her home church, Deep Creek Baptist Church and other Western Baptist Association churches have been ministering at the Wisp Resort. Slowly and steadily they have built a relationship with the resort employees. Resort volunteers deliver donuts and juice each week to the break room for the resort’s 500 employees,. They volunteer at the annual “Winter Dunk.” They’ve ministered at the Iron Man competition and similar events. God is now opening doors in an even greater way for the resort ministry. Last year they began hosting dinners for international students working at the resort, similar to those offered by Ocean City Resort Ministry.
“Our international student ministry is phenomenal!” DuVall says excitedly. The students, about 80, are all from South America.
DuVall said she approached Wisp leaders last year about hosting the dinners and they were immediately responsive. “They had been trying to find businesses or people in the community that wanted to do something with them. They said whatever you can do would be great,” DuVall explains.
Now, each month from December through March, the ministry hosts the dinners at Deep Creek Baptist Church. The resort buses the students to the church where resort volunteers eat with the students, play board games and use the time to get to know and build relationships with them, DuVall says. They also have light devotional times, and share about American culture. Many students are Catholic and have a lot of questions about the differences in the denominations.
In addition to the dinners, DuVall has initiated an “adoption” program with church families “adopting” one or more international students. Church families invite students to their homes for dinners, take them on outings and involve them in their family life.
“The students get homesick. This gives them a way to have a family and we get to share and live out Christ while they’re in our homes,” DuVall says. The students’ parents are also thrilled about the program. DuVall said it’s fun to see the Facebook posts from parents posting to families who are opening their homes to their children. The International students’ parents tell the adoptive families how thankful they are that their children are being cared for and loved.
DuVall said after the last dinner in December, she and a friend took six students on a shopping trip to Walmart. “They were very appreciative. They said, ‘We came as strangers and were not expecting anyone except other employers to care about us.’ One girl said, ‘You guys are like Jesus on earth.’ I told them don’t put the bar too high,” DuVall laughs, but she stresses that she is thankful that the message is getting across, that they want to reflect Christ.
DuVall said the many small touches at the Wisp were a big part of the door that opened at the resort. One of those touches is the upcoming Valentine’s Day ministry. DuVall and volunteers will deliver about 50 dozen cookies along with care packages that include hot cocoa, granola bars, crackers, tissues, hand warmers and Gospel tracts.
Churches bake and provide cookies and send in packages, or items for the packages, and youth and children at Deep Creek Baptist assemble the packages and divide the cookies.
Network churches are invited and encouraged to partner with the resort ministry. For more information contact DuVall, firstname.lastname@example.org