Have you figured out the numbers yet? I wouldn’t try too hard because there’s no pattern or puzzle with these numbers. Instead, prepare yourself a little fika and I’ll share with you the story that these numbers tell.
It was a pleasant Sunday afternoon, and though a little breezy the sun was shining at Holsby to help us give a warm welcome to the students who would take part in our first summer Bible school. We were ready to make a start with 5 students, we were hoping for 10, but pleasantly surprised to have 23 and 1 most favored infant. In all, 8 different countries were represented.
For these students it was 3 weeks of getting away and by the end many wanted to stay away…or rather stay here. However, the first Sunday night we saw in the story of Jesus getting away with His disciples, which resulted in the feeding of the five thousand, that getting away in God’s economy involves community, navigating the unexpected with trust and gratefulness, learning to be dependent on Him, and returning home to live that out in everyday life. “Away” for our students was exactly that and with the combination of 4 lecture series, a hiking/canoeing trip, restful afternoons with optional activities, and being together over meals and games of Kubb, “away” at Holsby proved to be a refreshing time.
It was also a festive time. In the mornings and evenings students feasted on God’s word, which included teaching from the book of James, the seven letters to the Seven Churches, and a combined series on being alive in the Old and New Testaments. In just these few weeks, students found out that dining over the word of God is truly satisfying, but it also grows one’s hunger for more. And so after 44 lectures, there was a desire for more, but with that the growing readiness to go home and continue living by “every word that comes from the mouth of God (Matt 4:4).”
When it wasn’t feasting in the classroom, it was feasting in the dining room, in Jönköping, in family homes, and even in the forest where many of the students spent an afternoon picking 17 liters of blueberries. As jars of jam were taken home, so were the many memories of this first summer Bible school. However, it is more than good memories that we want to leave people with. I think this student’s comment says it well: “Summer Bible school made us realize how accurate the Bible is to nowadays and how the Bible is Alive! It brought us much closer to God, and gave us the desire to have a personal living relationship with Him.”
Holsby isn’t the answer to having a deeper relationship with Jesus, but it’s definitely a place where many people fall in love with Him again, a place where they can get away to be spiritually and physically nourished, and a place to slow down and realign one’s priorities with His. If summer Bible school is something you or someone you know would benefit from, then come join us on 7-8-2018 for what will begin the telling of our second summer Bible school. Find out more details and apply at Holsby Bible School.
Mike Dorsey, from Florida, was a student at Holsby Bible School the very first year — back in 1973-74!
In a visit this spring to his home in northern Florida, I asked him why he chose to go to Bible school. He replied:
“I was interested in the Bible [and] I wanted to find myself, and find God’s plan. At 18 or 19, one is looking for what the future will hold. I wanted to know this great plan that God had for me! By the time I left Holsby I wanted to know what God wanted for the rest of my life. But it was not that way. I kept waiting.”
As Mike got older, he continued to think about what God wanted HIM to be. He later learned that God does not always tell us exactly what to do — HE gives us choices!
“It is not so much what we do, but how we work/function right where we are! God needs ordinary people to be examples of Christ. If one is waiting for a big plan, one misses the normal life. God needs people working in these ordinary places. That is where the real ministry field is!”
Mike became a Christian at about the age of seven. He was raised by Christian parents, and always attended church. At Bible school he was fascinated with the Bible, which he found to be a never-ending journey. He learned about the choices one must make. In the process, he found how important the ordinary life is. It was not just having a vocation laid out in front of you. It was distinguishing between BEING and DOING! “I realized that God wanted me to live daily according to HIS desires. I didn’t find a specific vocation. I found more of God Himself – found God for Who HE is! I didn’t necessarily find just a purpose for life, but HE gave me a love for HIS Word. I found that God does not only lead, but HE often nudges!!”
Mike attended college, graduating with a Bible and Religious Education major, later complementing that with a Teaching and Social Studies major.
Mike was known for writing music while at Bible school; in fact he continues to compose to this day. During the month of November that first year (1973), Holsby and the surrounding area got hit with a severe windstorm. Literally thousands of trees in the forests were blown down. The school was without electricity for 3 days – not even any heat in the houses. Our kitchen personnel had to cook outside in the snow over a fire!
It was during this time that the Lord gave Mike a very special song – straight from his heart and a strong testimony of his relationship with the Lord. The evening we were with Mike and his wife, Wally and I sang this song once again – this time with Mike on the guitar (along with piano accompaniment).
May your hearts be blessed to hear these words, the testimony of which lives on to this day …
I NEVER REALIZED BEFORE
I never realized before how much I really needed You,
But I know that I do, now I know that I do.
I never thought that I could say
How much I really loved You,
But you know that it’s true,
Yes, You know that it’s true!
Never before have I felt peace like this inside,
Peace that’s surrounded by Your love.
Something like this is just impossible to hide,
I want to tell the stars above!
I know I couldn’t find the words to tell You what You mean to me,
You have set my heart free, You have set my heart free.
And I will always follow you wherever you will lead me,
Where You want me to be, where You want me to be!
Show me the way that I can love You some more,
I just can’t love You enough.
Give me the faith that I have never known before,
Show me the meaning of Your love.
I never realized before how much I really needed You,
Now I know that I do, now I know that I do.
I never thought that I could say how much I really loved You,
Now You know that it’s true, yes, You know that it’s true!
Camp Holsby has started up again this year! We welcomed our first few groups this last week. What a great way to spend a week or weekend with a youth, family or confirmation group. Do us a favor and if you’ve been impacted by Holsby, consider telling your church or youth group about coming to camp here. See ya soon!
As Spring School gets underway here at Holsby, the days are getting longer and the sun is coming out. Instead of a white blanket of snow over the campus, the grass is looking greener by the day and the birds are singing louder than ever. A sense of peace and awakening is over this place as students gather for ultimate frisbee and dare to swim in the nearby lakes (although it seems a little early for that yet!). But spring has evidently arrived and is announcing itself with wonderful warmth and brightness!
In our first service together this term, we heard a sermon from John Poysti, our Director at Holsby. He was preaching from Zechariah 9 and talked of us, as Christians, being ‘prisoners of hope’.
This concept had never really crossed my mind before. Many of us have read that Jesus came as part of His mission to ‘set captives free’, so what then does it mean to become a prisoner again? Surely this makes no sense? But instead of this being an illogical statement, this call to become prisoners of hope instead reveals something very beautiful in the character of God.
This passage talks to the people of that day, but also to us now. Speaking to the 50,000 Israelites who had chosen to return to Jerusalem after their captivity in Babylon (whilst many of their people chose to stay behind) verse 11 says ‘because of the blood of My covenant with you, I have set your prisoners free from the waterless pit’. Here, the Lord brings attention to the covenant He made with the Israelites back in Exodus when He promised to save, protect and restore His people. The covenant talks of God’s deliverance and provision for the Israelites at that time, but also tells us of the ultimate fulfillment in Christ that is real in our lives today.
Here, the passage says that prisoners will be set free from the ‘waterless pit’, and this picture is a vivid one. When you are in a pit, you are extremely vulnerable and helpless. You can’t climb out, you are imprisoned a long way below the ground. This is a perfect illustration of hopelessness. But, the Lord says that because of His promises, through Christ He has set us free from this helpless state!
We, who were stuck in the pit, with no ability to save ourselves from the ultimate end of death because of sin, had no way to be saved. But Jesus, through His work on the cross, went down into the depths of the waterless pit for us, so that as He defeated it, it need have no power over us anymore either. We are set free from this place of despair and instead, given freedom from sin!
So now, we know this freedom in Christ from sin. However, the verse 12 goes on to say ‘return to the stronghold, O prisoners who have the hope’. A stronghold is a picture of a high place, a fortified place, one that speaks of safety and protection. And because Christ became a prisoner of despair on the cross for us, we can choose instead to be a prisoner of hope. The fortress the King is inviting us to return to is a place where the King guarantees our safety. It is a place where He assures us of justice and salvation. It’s a prison we choose, because it’s a fortress of hope.
Sometimes I am just amazed at the lengths that Jesus goes to save us, even though we did nothing to deserve it nor did we ask for it. But Jesus says, Return to Me. Return to the fortress of hope. I have prepared the way. I have paid the price. I invite you to become a captive of my love, my forgiveness, my cleansing. Come to me! I am your hope.
Live in a great community. Have fun serving God. Share Jesus’ love. Be a volunteer at Camp Holsby! We still have a few spots left in the program, hospitality and kitchen departments for this coming summer. Check it out by clicking on the picture below! Hope to see you at Camp Holsby!!
At the moment, snow covers the ground here in Holsby and it is giving everything a wonderful wintery feel! The snow could not have come at a better time as we had our annual winter retreat last weekend with all the students. The winter retreat is a day set aside to spend time together in community, doing activities and being outdoors. We were planning on going ahead even if the weather wasn’t top notch, but a dumping of snow a few days before made it even better!
The day started after breakfast, with our students being shuttled out to the nearby village of Skirö. Table tennis, billiards and clearing an area for broomball on the lake followed as we waited for everyone to arrive. Chaos ensued as 70 people attempted to put on jackets and boots ready for our hike!
The hike took us through the forest, and the snow on the trees added beauty to our surroundings. Of course, snow on the ground meant many a snowball ambush was made as we went along, and you always had to be on the alert just in case someone jumped you with a pile of snow in their hands!
After our sack lunches, we split off into different activities in the afternoon. Some braved the cold to play ice hockey and broomball on the village’s frozen lake. Others opted to stay inside and were kept busy playing table tennis, chess or spending time chatting and fellowshipping with one another. A group also baked chocolate balls and cookies, which quickly disappeared when our mid-afternoon fika time came around!
As the afternoon progressed, the sun came out from behind the clouds and lit up a spectacular sunset. It was a privilege to be in the midst of God’s beautiful creation, watching the sun go down and making footprints in the snow.
Dinner was brought to us and we ate until our stomachs were full! What is it about the outdoors that always makes you so hungry?!
The schedule for the day was non-stop, as after dinner we heard a student testimony and prepared to play group games – family group competing against family group. Noise, laughter and true competitive spirit came out as we passed candy from person to person using raw spaghetti, did relay races and tried desperately to find that piece of information in the newspaper!
My personal highlight of the day came after the games, when we got wrapped back up again and stepped out into the moonlit night. The stars twinkled as we walked to a nearby lake, each family group holding a flaming torch to light our way (we are torchbearers, after all!). The lake was frozen, covered in snow and surrounded by forest. We stood in a circle, holding hands and singing ‘Amazing Grace’ and ‘Bless the Lord, My Soul’, before splitting into our family groups and lighting Chinese lanterns. Stood there together, in unity, watching our lanterns rise, was a memory to cherish. We watched as they floated up and became the size of the stars (at least, most of them floated up. My family group’s lantern rose, then promptly caught fire and descended quickly). But being stood there, each family group together with one another, was just special.
Those who have been in Holsby often comment on the community that is felt here. And on a day to day basis, our community is strong and together. But there are also the moments when you really stop and thank God that you are here, in this moment, with His people. And that night was one of them. ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brothers to dwell together in unity!’ Psalm 133:1
Camp Holsby has a remodeled website! Check it out and don’t forget to spread the word about Camp Holsby! Youth groups, confirmation groups and family camps are welcome. We still have days available during the spring season and a few open spots during the summer season as well.
Special thanks to Samuel Weirich for the web design, photos and hours of work gone into the renovation. Also special thanks to Alex and Esther Herbert for getting the website jumpstarted in the first place.
Even though I’m British, spending last year with some Americans and Canadians has made me more aware of the traditional holiday of Thanksgiving. A few weeks ago, we had our own Holsby version of Thanksgiving, called ‘Höstfest’… it’s Thanksgiving with a Swedish twist!
The purpose of Höstfest is for all the staff, students and guests to gather together, spend time in fellowship with one another and to take time thinking on the good gifts we have from God. Our theme this year was ‘God’s provision,’ and we started off the evening with a great Thanksgiving dinner. Brad (our chef) brought out the centerpiece of the evening, a huge turkey with sparklers, with the ‘Halleujah’ chorus playing in the background. There was much conversation and laughter as we ate and enjoyed the abundance of food the kitchen gave to us!
After singing ‘Give Thanks with a Grateful Heart’ together (in both English and German) and a devotion by Luke on Philippians 4v11-13 (strength to be content in the sufficiency of God’s provision), we sat in our family groups and talked on the theme of the evening, sharing with each other about the way we saw God’s provision in our lives. Some responses included family, being able to come to Holsby, fullness of joy, the fruit of the Spirit, the beauty of nature, the act of restoration, forgiveness, the blessing of community and for giving life to us. It was a special time as brothers and sisters in Christ were honest with one another and could share stories of God’s generous heart toward us.
Following this, each family group put together their very own patchwork, combining all the individual responses to the theme of the evening. Here’s an example of the Schoon family’s creation. They are now displayed in our dining room to help us remember God DOES provide, and He is faithful. For me, one of the biggest blessings of the evening was seeing what the children had drawn, one picture being of the cross and the empty tomb. A reminder to all that God’s biggest provision for us is the death and resurrection of His Son!
Pumpkin pie and ice cream followed and conversation over tea and coffee finished off a brilliant evening…
All in all, Höstfest 2016 was a great time of reflection, praise and community, looking back on all the many blessings God abundantly gives us. The time together concluded with much laughter, very full stomachs and lots of pictures!
Three week summer Bible school, just what you’ve been waiting for! If you haven’t checked out our website yet, this might give you a good excuse. Next July we are going to offer a three-week Bible school course, giving you or someone you know the opportunity to dig deeper into God’s word, to be physically and spiritually refreshed, to make new connections, maybe revisit some old ones and to explore some of Sweden. If this is not for you right now, would you pass the information on to anyone you think might benefit from these three weeks and, of course, plenty of fika? Oh, and as an added bonus for those of you with family, we will provide childcare during the sessions.
Every time we get to talk to a friend of Holsby about our plans to build this beautiful new facility for exercise and refreshment, the reaction is the same: “What a wonderful idea! This is a real need both for the Bible school and the summer camps and retreats.”
We are very grateful for those who have already expressed their support of this project through their giving. Lots of modest donations, a few large donations, but always with a spirit of encouragement and partnership. We know that generosity is alive and well among our Holsby friends.
Over the last 12 years, we have done all we can to invest wisely, spend prudently and save carefully. And with the Lord’s help and blessing, we have been able to put aside a sizable amount to build the Holsby gym. But a large project like this would deplete all our savings and still leave us with a significant debt to pay off. We feel that would not be prudent.
Our hope was to begin to build in the spring of 2017, but we have not received enough in donations to break ground yet. Our Holsby Leadership Team has decided to extend our fundraising efforts for another year and, God willing, begin to build in the spring of 2018. That will give us one more year to save some money and, hopefully, to raise a lot of donations – both small and large.
“So, what can I do?” you may ask:
- Some of you may not be able to afford a large donation, but you could afford to send a monthly amount over the next 12 months that will add up to something significant. Consider becoming a monthly contributor.
- Some of you have the means and the vision to invest a much larger amount in the expansion of the Holsby campus and ministry. Those gifts are very much needed.
- Some of you may know of family, friends or acquaintances who are looking for a worthy project to support. You can present the project to them on our behalf.
- All of you can support this project through your prayers. We can only do this by God’s help and His blessing.
Go to the donation page on our website and you will get all the instructions you need. You will also find a brief one-page fact sheet about the project that you can share with others. Please consider how you can partner with Holsby and invest in the lives of young people from around the world.
I want to support the Holsby gym project
The total cost is 1.9 million U.S. dollars. We already have $800,000 in donations and other funds set aside for this project. Now we need your help to raise the rest of the money.
We would be very grateful if you would share this project on social media and with your friends and family.