Back in the days when my children were small, I was a youth pastor in Rancho Mirage. Summer meant heat. Lots of it. Enough for a lifetime in one summer. And as the chief planner for all things youth, it was high on my priority list to take the students out of the desert. Often.

Some things do not change. Summer means no school commitments, so you have time to impact the lives of children and students by taking them out of their environment. It gets their attention. Sometimes that is a simple activity, sometimes it is more intensive.

July is prime for ministry. We will do our first VBS without a Children’s Pastor. It will be a dynamic three nights to present to children the hope of Jesus. And it really is going to be amazing.

Then the youth head to the Coachella Valley (yes, the place from which I longed to escape in my youth pastor days). In the refrigerated storage sheds of Belk Farms, our students will lead the week-long ministry to middle school students. A mission trip in a cooler. Not a bad idea, honestly. We serve the children of farm workers who usually experience the love and the story of Jesus through Tesoro clubs. They get a fresh messenger that week.

And then there is youth summer camp to end the month… as if Andrew needs anything else to round out his summer schedule. July is all about making connections with students of all ages to give them a taste of Jesus in their lives.

I have so many stories of busy summers. My wife spent many a hot night in the desert waiting for me to return from Mexico or camp or biking around Solvang or wherever I could escape the desert heat with students. Summers are long in the desert. Very long. But they are longer on the spouse of the youth pastor. The one who stays behind faces the challenges of normal life, which can get old.

Will you pray for all our ministry opportunities this summer? It will be a season that could set us up for real growth in the fall. But let’s also pray for those behind the scenes who support our front-line ministry. Some go. Some stay. All pray. The battle is won among those who pray. So please be faithful in prayer during these days of busy ministry. May the Spirit have the freedom to work in hearts and change the direction of the lives of children, students and adults as they encounter the eternal truth of God’s Word.

Be faithful in prayer. If we do all else well but fail to pray, we lose.