Fellowship Valley Christian Ministries 2015 Update


By: Tina Benoit, Executive Director

2 Cor. 12:9a ERV

9But the Lord said, “My Grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by My Power.”

We have just experienced another incredible year at Fellowship Valley Christian Retreat Ministry! Gods’ Presence here becomes more and more tangible with every passing day! fv

When I started here in April of 2010, the ministry had been in a “season of quiet” for almost 3 years. There were only accommodations enough to host 27 people maximum. Today, by God’s Grace and Provision, we can host up to 80+ at any given time! We finished up the year with one of the busiest years this ministry has ever seen in it’s entire 37 years of service! And now it looks like 2016 will surpass that accomplishment with ease!

In 2015 we were able to start and/or complete building projects on several areas of need:

  • Installed and completed a new metal roof on the Log Home
  • Started the building process on the New Kitchen
  • Re-roofed 2 of the mobile homes with a pitched roof and metal roofing. One of these units also has a covered front porch across the entire 60’ of the structure. This design, along with new siding, is our desire for all 4 of the units.

fvhelpAll of these projects, as well as the general everyday upkeep of the premises, was accomplished by a huge group of devoted volunteers who love this place and love to be a part of all that God is doing here! There is no way I could ever take any credit of my own in regards to the growth of this ministry.

As I always say, I just show up each day and say, “Here I am, LORD. What would you like for me to do today?” I’m just honored He chose me and so many others to be a part of the Grand Design of this ministry and to be able to have a “front row seat” in watching Him Work as we continue to commit
ourselves to being His hands and feet!

A more permanent, full time addition to the “team”, that I have been praying in for a long time, showed up for a tour in May of last year. Her name is Jackie Ottman. She and her mom came to see if Fellowship Valley would be a good place to hold conferences for their local church’s women’s group.

Usually when I give tours of the property and facilities there is a lot of talk between myself and the folks I’m showing around… On this particular tour, I seemed to be the only one doing the talking. That happens sometimes. Not everyone is all “ga-ga” over the ministry. (Imagine that!) I just figured it wasn’t a “good fit” for them. Little did I realize that the Anointing was so strong on both of them it actually had them speechless!!! Jackie now tells the story of how she just KNEW the moment she stepped on the property that she was being Called by God to serve here.tjackworking

So, after a couple months of having her come and volunteer her services, we both knew that she was, indeed, being Called by God to come on board and help me continue the Work the LORD had started so long ago. And it’s a really good fit! She has a lot of giftings in a lot of different areas but has committed herself to do whatever it takes to help me prepare this place for the souls the LORD continues to bring here.

Another HUGE addition to the ministry, from 2015, happened when we entered into an agreement with TeamEffort Youth Missions, from Jacksonville, Florida. We are allowing them to lease out the entire lodging facilities of Fellowship Valley for 2 months during the summer, that being June and July respectively, in order to hold weekly youth camps with teens from around the Eastern portion of the United States.

fvyouthEach week a new group of teens come in for the week. Then these kids go out into a predetermined area of the community, set by TeamEffort, and serve through accomplishing building projects and spreading the Love of Christ. The people they help are Blessed by their service and ministry, they are Blessed by experiencing this opportunity to serve and we are Blessed by having them here! It’s a “win/win/win” situation! We are looking forward to this becoming an annual booking agreement between TeamEffort and this ministry for many years to come!

We also welcomed back many groups who have made Fellowship Valley “home” for their annual retreats and even some who come here a couple of times a year because “there’s just no place like Fellowship Valley!” We were also Blessed to have quite a few new groups come in during 2015 and because they experienced God’s undeniable Presence in such a Supernatural way, they have already secured their reservations for their annual retreats for this year! But then, that’s just how things work around here… Once you come and truly experience His Anointing, there just is no other place to go!

If It Ain’t Broke, Don’t Fix It!fv-biggroup

With all of this continued growth, one has to expect some “growing pains”. Just as we have seen such an increase in fellow Brothers and Sisters in Christ join us here in the Valley, we have had to turn away so many more due to lack of accommodations. We’ve even “lost” a couple of our devoted groups of sojourners because they have simply outgrown us!

At the same time, in the midst of this “problem”, God has been Faithful to share with me the solutions to these pending issues via His “New Visions” for this ministry.

Isaiah 43:19 The Voice

19     Watch closely: I am preparing something new; it’s happening now, even as I speak, and you’re about to see it. I am preparing a way through the desert;
Waters will flow where there had been none.

fvgroupshotAs I read and reread that verse, in all its different Biblical versions, I thought the LORD was telling me that He was changing things up a bit from how the original ladies, Bonnie Hanson and Alline Marshall, used to do things. I thought instead of just simply praying in His Provision, He was now asking me to take a bold step and create a Plan to acquire grants and funds from whatever source became feasible. I thought He was bringing me people from every corner to help me in this “something new” thing He was doing. I thought… Yes, I thought…

Isaiah 55:8-9 ERV

8The LORD says, “My thoughts are not like yours. Your ways are not like Mine. 9Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so My ways are higher than your ways, and My thoughts are higher than your thoughts.

This is where I come to the conclusion that I think that maybe sometimes I think too much…

In Isaiah 43:19, with the new version of The Voice, I saw for the first time how God expects us to actually respond to His statement: We are to stand still and “watch closely” as He prepares something new; as He prepares a way where there seems to be no way; as He makes things happen unlike anything we have ever seen before. He never says for us to take over and give it our best shot; make things happen in our own abilities. He is telling us to stand still and watch Him work!

When He wants my help, He will position me to move in His Strength… That’s where He gets the Glory for the Great Things He will have done!

When I came to the realization that what I was trying to do (in the flesh) for His ministry, here, was not meshing with what my spirit was telling me, I felt compelled to go back to the original “Blue Print” of this ministry when Bonnie and Alline started it over 37 years ago… It worked for them for many years and God reigned Supreme through it all.

God Chooses The Foolish Things Of The World…

In the Prologue of the book, “Two Weak Women And Amazing Grace”, Bonnie Hanson (the ministry’s co-founder) summed it up very clearly for my wayward thinking:bookfv

1 Cor. 1:27-29 ERV

27But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise. He chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. 28And God chose what the world thinks is not important — what the world hates and thinks s nothing. He chose these to destroy what the world thinks is important. 29God did this so that on one can stand before Him and boast about anything

“The Holy Spirit has personalized this truth to my co-worker, Alline Marshall, and to me in a special way as we have taken steps to follow Him in ventures which could only be thought ridiculous in the natural. As two very weak women, we have been given the very rare privilege of “stepping out on the seeming void and finding the Rock beneath.” We are not unusual people, just those to whom God granted a special delight of seeing Him work out His ways in human situations and circumstances. He gladly leads and reveals Himself and His ways to anyone who is willing to follow Him at all cost. What an adventure we would have missed if we had not followed His leading! What revelations of His character and grace we would have missed if we had not allowed Him to take us into impossible situations where we could witness His Power and Love at work. He waits to show Himself to any who truly seeks to follow Him with an open heart. To that one He will reveal the secrets of His ways.

“When we understand that it is only as we recognize our own utter weakness that we can see the Lord demonstrate His power, then are we partakers in a special secret. When we see at last that He deliberately chooses weak and foolish instruments, then we will not worry about powerful programs and rich, financial backers as we step out to serve the Lord.

“We don’t even need to know God’s whole plan at the outset. For after all, He holds the schedule and program of each day, month and year in His hands, and He will reveal His plan to us at the appropriate moment. Out part is to pray and wait for His time for the next step. But waiting is one of the most difficult tasks of the Christian life. We have been taught by our pressured, success-oriented, and highly commercialized society that to succeed we need years of training, the latest equipment and plenty of finances. And success to the natural mind is very important for we need to report our achievements to our supporters so that funds will continue to flow in.But who of us has the time to sit and wait on God when emergencies and financial stresses are upon us? We would rather discover a formula or technique for reaching our goal quickly than take the time to wait patiently for God to reveal His plan. But ideas of formulas and techniques come from the secular mind, not from the spiritual mind, for God cannot be captured in a formula. He has a glorious way of breaking out of our constricting programs, definitions and plans.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:9)

“We may struggle to do the work of God by our own strength, our own cleverness our own natural talents and skills. But when we finally fall down exhausted by our efforts and turn to Him, then we will see, at last, that our failure results from disregarding His ways and His principles.”

I emphasized that last statement because it completely summed up how I had gotten off base from His previous direction for me and this ministry. And the last thing I’ve ever wanted to do is step outside of His perfect plan and will in this place, not to mention in every area of my life as it is today!

However, His Grace is definitely my constant covering…

2 Cor. 12:9-10 ERV

9But the Lord said, “My Grace is all you need. Only when you are weak can everything be done completely by My Power.” So I will gladly boast about my weaknesses. Then Christ’s Power can stay in me. 10 Yes, I am glad
to have weaknesses if they are for Christ. I am glad to be insulted and have hard times. I am glad when I am persecuted and have problems, because it is when I am weak that I am really strong.

Bottom line… If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it… If it is, call the Master!

God’s got this. God knows every need of this ministry and everyone involved in it. God is… well… God! And He just knows what He’s doing ALL THE TIME!

Yes, Jackie and I are two more “Weak Women” that He has called and equipped to continue the purpose of this ministry at Fellowship Valley. But as Jackie so eloquently puts it, “We are two weak women packin’!”  We are packin’ faith, excitement, love and the Father’s vision through obedience to be the vessels He can use to accomplish His Plans.

And we wouldn’t have it any other way!

Jerimiah 32:17 The Voice
“Eternal Lord, with Your outstretched arm and Your enormous power You created the heavens and the earth. Nothing is too difficult for You.”

May the Lord Bless you and keep you in all your ways! Thank you for your continued prayers and support. You will never know how much it all has, does and will mean to us and this ministry, let alone His Kingdom!

In His Service, for His Glory ~ Always!
Tina Benoit, Executive Director
Jackie Ottman, Facility Administrator

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