I spent four summers with ACMNP at the following National Parks: Rocky Mountain, Denali, Grand Teton and Glacier during 1986-1989. I learned of this ministry at a crucial time in my life when I was integrating thoughts of my career and faith into a personal mission statement. This ministry had a big impact on my future and helped increase my faith and understanding of God. I also received valuable life experiences of leadership, working as a team and being an ambassador for an organization with a solid reputation in our National parks. When I was in college, I considered the lessons I learned through this ministry as being just as valuable as time spent in the classroom. Summers with ACMNP were an extremely valuable part of my college education.
I was privileged to personally meet the founder and original director of this ministry; Warren Ost. Warren was passionate about worshipping God through interdenominational church services in our national parks. Warren demonstrated that bringing God into our leisure and recreation demonstrate a deep longing for a personal relationship with God and welcoming God into every domain of our life is an expression of our love for him. I learned first hand about the behind the scenes work and commitment that caused this ministry to flourish. Warren had funny aphorisms that would direct and inspire. My favorite sayings of his… “It’s easier to get forgiveness than permission”, “Being a worker priest” his coining of the term “Snoopervise” and stating “My favorite National Park is the one that I am in”.
I learned a lot about worship and the comfort and strength in celebrating Christian liturgy. Through this ministry I witnessed the diversity and value of experiencing God in nature and fellowship and the many uniquely individualized manifestations of worship expression. Every week I would meet new campers and visitors to the National park campground I was assigned to. And every Sunday I was touched by how visitors came to the interdenominational services wanting to hear from God as well as desire to worship God as a part of their park experience.
I also developed friendships amongst the concessions staff at each park where I worked. While in the park, I was able able to express my faith with individuals who would later become future community leaders, laborers, business executives, technical workers and parents. Seasonal employees, many of whom are students arrive to their seasonal work assignment with an expectant attitude. They are anticipating having new experiences and a time of respite from academics.
This is an opportune time to share Gods attributes and his love for us. As a student minister I had a unique opportunity to testify by my actions that God lives in our life and demonstrate the joy and clarity that comes from having hope in God.
Many students experience surprise through the vastness and beauty in Gods creation, and ACMNP is there to interpret the biggest surprise in that God wants to know us personally. There also was a chaplain ministry that I was able to provide to park employees. I represented God to employees in times of celebration, disappointment and tragedy. As a result of this ministry, many individuals have experienced a deeper understanding of God. And many young people working in the parks were influenced by our triune God.
Thank you for allowing me to serve in this ministry. It has been life changing for me.
John E., Rocky Mountain, Denali, Grand Teton, & Glacier National Parks, 1986-1989
The Lord said, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”