Overlake Christian Church camping trip goes on despite shocking theft, severe thunderstorm
August 5, 2010 · Updated 1:07 PM
A shocking theft and a severe thunderstorm proved to be no match against the determination and faith of volunteers at Redmond's Overlake Christian Church.
Swift-working volunteers were able to salvage — with ultimate satisfaction — the church's annual five-day youth camping trip despite two surprising, major obstacles.
The rented moving truck, packed with more than $40,000 worth of camping and electronics equipment, was stolen sometime overnight last Wednesday, the night before the setup crew was to leave for Wenatchee Confluence State Park.
"My first thought was, how are we going to do this camp without our stuff," said Overlake youth pastor Jake Goetze. "If we told the kids we had to cancel this trip, it would be like canceling Christmas. We start talking about this trip six months in advance. Students really do look forward to this trip."
A 1985 BMW, which was owned by one of the church volunteers, was also stolen but found on Saturday, just blocks from the church with minimal damage. The stolen van has not been found and there are no suspects in the case, according to Redmond Police Department spokesperson Jim Bove. Police are looking for the 24-foot-long, 2006 white Penske Freightliner box truck with Washington license plate B01592A. Anyone with information is asked to call 911.
The truck and the equipment, which included medieval-themed chairs and tables as well as sound equipment, totaled about $100,000, according to Overlake communications director Kevin Vander Weide.
"Even when it looks so dire, miracles can happen and they were able to pull it off," Vander Weide said.
The 35 volunteers, who were planning to leave early last Thursday morning and set up camp, instead fanned out across the Eastside to purchase camping gear, kitchen supplies and other items for the highly anticipated camping trip. Another Redmond church, Timberlake Christian Fellowship, also helped out, letting Overlake borrow camping supplies, including a giant wedding tent.
The church rented a sound system and the setup crew left Thursday afternoon. The nearly 250 junior-high kids arrived at camp Friday evening, eager to enjoy water sports and worship.
"We rallied together and made a list of things we needed," Goetze said. "Every one of the volunteers had a get-it-done attitude, the attitude of those leaders was tremendous.
"I think what man meant for evil, God made into good," he added.
After a day and a half of scrambling to get the camp set up, volunteers were eager for some well-deserved rest Friday night, Goetze said.
But at around 2:30 a.m. Saturday, "a thunderstorm of epic proportions" pounded down on the camp, forcing an early wake-up call for camp goers and volunteers. Volunteers moved all the kids into the buses as they worked feverishly to secure the camp.
"Lightning was flashing all over us," Goetze said. "You could feel the thunder in your chest. It was frightening."
After more than an hour, the storm passed as kids and volunteers returned to the tents to get some sleep.
"It was like Satan trying to stop what God was trying to do, but in the end, God was glorified," Goetze said.
Despite the tough start, the camp was a success as students got a chance to do some river rafting, wake boarding and enjoy good times at Slide Waters, Lake Chelan Waterpark. The camp also included worship sessions twice a day with the hope for students to improve their faith in God, Goetze said.
"The goal of the camp is for every student to take a forward step in their faith," Goetze said. "I really do think it was God's hand that made this trip happen."
The kids and volunteers returned Tuesday evening and Goetze took a day off on Wednesday to relax before heading back to work on Thursday.
"I would say everyone is satisfied with how things went," Goetze said. "I think our faith is bigger because of this."
Overlake Christian Church is located at 9900 Willows Road NE. For more information about its services and programs, call (425) 702-0303 or visit www.occfamily.org.