The other day I read about how we overcomplicate disciple-making . . . that it’s simply about intentionally loving someone and helping them in some way. I’m carrying a burden right now (maybe it’s the ‘after-Christmas funk’). I feel we’ve become ‘child-worshippers,’ who are growing a generation of ‘get-ers’ who know nothing of being ‘give-ers.’ Last summer, I was able to take two of my grandkids to Lighthouse Family Retreat. It’s a place where kids are asked to serve someone else. They see it modeled. Mine really got into it . . . now they’re dying to go back!
The Executive Director of Lighthouse is Chris Woodruff, one of my Radical Mentoring graduates and an all-around great human being. Here’s part of an interview I did with Chris . . .
Regi Campbell: Most of the folks who read this blog probably haven’t heard of Lighthouse Family Retreat. Tell them a little about it.
Chris Woodruff: Lighthouse Family Retreat is a ministry that serves families living through childhood cancer. We do this by bringing ‘volunteer families’ down to the beach where they serve our families by cleaning condos, preparing and serving meals, cleaning bathrooms, doing laundry and playing with the kids. The best we know, there is no other service opportunity like Lighthouse . . . where a family with kids as young as 4 years old can come for a week and serve together as a family. The conversations and teachable moments are priceless. The volunteer family raises (or donates) the money, so the week at the beach is free of charge for the family living through childhood cancer. Then, they spend the retreat week serving that family. The unexpected consequence for people who serve is meeting and serving with some of the most fun people on the planet.
I was pleasantly surprised when I did this. It wasn’t like a ‘camp’ setting . . . more like a bunch of families vacationing together, except with all the food, logistics and activities taken care of. Frankly, I was a little bit queasy about being around kids and families who were going through this awful thing, but it turned out to be wonderful. How in the world did this thing get crafted into such a cool ministry experience?
Honestly, Regi, it’s all God. We have an incredible team that puts together an incredible schedule and program for the week, but it truly has everything to do with what God does through the unique mix of people each week. Something magical happens when you love like Jesus for a week together. You come on Sunday as a bunch of strangers and leave on Saturday feeling like you are leaving family. Only God can orchestrate that.
Tell us about how going through a Radical Mentoring group set you up for success with Lighthouse?
It was through Radical Mentoring I learned what it means to be a servant leader . . . through the books, exercises, my group peers, and through your leadership as a model of humility and service. I am the leader I am today, both at home and at Lighthouse Family Retreat, because of the lessons I learned in my mentoring group. So much so, I have now led three Radical Mentoring groups, which has impacted my life as much, if not more, than my own time in a group.
Regi, let me turn this around. You’d heard about Lighthouse for years. What prompted you to say ‘yes’ and take your family last summer?
I’ve heard so many rave reviews from people who have gone. A couple of very busy guys I know have made Lighthouse an annual deal. They’re your best salesmen! After a while, I decided I needed to check it out myself. It was even more amazing than I’d heard. So, we’ve applied to bring enough ‘Campbells’ to serve two families this year.
What surprised you in your real-life experience when you served last summer?
Three things. First, to see the continuous joy on the kids’ faces . . . to see them laugh and sing and dance . . . to see them be free, at least for a time, of the worry and the work of cancer treatment, that was awesome. Second, I was surprised at the amount of free time and how much I was able to enjoy my family even though I came expecting everything to be about someone else’s family. And lastly, I was impressed by the gaggle of high school and college kids you call ‘summer staff.’ They were so great with the kids and the serving families.
One more question, Chris. What do you need? How can the ‘Radical Mentoring tribe’ help Lighthouse?
Great question. We need the men of Radical Mentoring to bring their families down and serve with us. Regi, we have a waitlist of 198 families living through childhood cancer that we could not serve last year. We need more Family Partners (volunteers) to serve those families. There is still space this summer to come and serve. A week at Lighthouse can ‘change the game’ for a dad and husband . . . leading your family in serving, engaging in meaningful conversations and creating forever memories. A lot of non-profits just need money, but for us, it is so much more than that. We need people’s hearts, hands, and feet as they come love like Jesus.
Thanks, Chris. To the RM tribe, check out the Lighthouse Family Retreat website, talk with your wife and kids and sign up to come for a week this summer . . . it will change your family in the best way. If you’d like to apply, go here.