Mover of Men and Mountains. This is the title of the biography of R. G. LeTourneau, the Christian inventor, businessman and philanthropist, which Jeff Cade recommended that I read. It was one of the most inspiring biographies I have ever read. I commend it to you. But it also describes Jeff’s daily work life. Jeff moves mountains and he moves/manages a team of men to do it. He works for a road construction company that is always in need of breaker rock and gravel for their work projects.
It may literally look like child’s play. After all, every little boy playing with toy versions of bulldozers and dump trucks at one time dreams of doing this “when they grow up.” But this is so much more than toys in an overgrown sandbox. The work is more delicate than you might imagine. First, you have to deal with private landowners. The job of Jeff and his team is stripping the rock from God’s earth but first they have to gain contracts from the landowners. A strip mine may not be the prettiest site you have ever seen, but Jeff works with stewardship in mind. Once a project is completed, they grade the land in such a way that years later you would never know they were here.
Next Jeff contracts with demolition experts who drill holes in the rock and blow off sides of the hill. These are, after all, mountains of mostly solid rock-Wisconsin limestone. Then moving the rock and shaping the hills are another matter of precision. For a heavy equipment operator, there is an artistry to the multiple pedals and levers that are manipulated in one smooth motion--man and machine in a graceful dance of demolition and development. (But don’t tell these tough guys they are ‘dancing’!) Finally, they have the pressure of their bosses hammering for larger and larger quotas of rock to feed their hungry road crews.
Jeff is one of the kindest men I have known with an ever present smile of enthusiasm on his face. Jeff actually met the Lord in these rock pits. He grew tired of the country music blaring on his radio and one day switched to a Christian radio station. He listened to countless hours of music, sermons and especially enjoyed the programming for kids. Slowly his heart began to receive the truth of the messages. Jeff was a sinner and he desperately needed Jesus. God graciously replaced his heart of rock with a heart of flesh (Ezekiel 36:26). Meeting his wife Kathy solidified his faith and now they are a staple of our church life. Jeff still moves mountains and men every day, but his greatest joy is watching the Lord move his heart to new heights of love and obedience.
I cut my ministry teeth during four summers as a camp counselor. This service opportunity literally changed my direction in life but it also changed my personality. My first summer I was a shy, clueless 19 year old who just needed a summer job. By my fourth summer I had already felt a distinct calling to prepare for vocational ministry, probably as a pastor. The personality changes were evident. It helped me become more outgoing and begin to develop a wide range of ministry skills that I still use today. Furthermore, I met my wife Karen at this camp! These are the reasons that I hold camping ministry in such high regard and those who faithfully and sacrificially serve there. Men like Brant.
If you think about a couple having an argument, which topic comes to mind first? Money, right? The ‘experts’ tell us that most marital spats surround the topic of finances and far too many divorces are driven by the same strife. Not for Brant and Heather Hougas. They are the only couple I have ever met who actually ‘fight’ about who gets to balance the family budget and books each month. They don’t just tolerate financial details, they LOVE them!
This tells you why Brant is so well suited to serve as the Office Manager at Living Waters Bible Camp in Westby. God has created and gifted Brant with a mind that skillfully manages details. And thankfully he has a temperament that also enjoys this kind of vital service. Brant is a graduate of Moody Bible institute who has been serving at Living Waters since 2012.
Camping ministry always involves the great outdoors: hiking, swimming, horseback riding and zip-lining. Summer camp is for making crafts, sleeping in cabins and sitting around campfires. And Christian camps are about teaching and training people of all ages in Biblical knowledge and Godly living. Living Waters has all of these and more. I consider LWBC to be a premier discipleship and training camp in the Midwest region. What they lack in acreage they make up for in serious teaching and training. But all of this activity cannot happen without someone like Brant running the show from behind the scenes. Like all camp staff, Brant gets his hands dirty and loves to hang out with summer campers in the sunshine. They sing their hearts out to God and play their bodies out to exhaustion. Brant loves this, but his calling is in the details. A $650,000 budget, a staff team and hundreds of campers will fall into chaos without someone managing the details.
On the day I visited him, I tried to make myself useful by folding brochures and stuffing envelopes for a large ministry mailing. I’m not a detail guy but I can stuff envelopes for a few hours with the best of them. And I learned the coolest trick from Brant for ‘licking’ the envelopes! He could certainly teach me a ton about running a crisp office. (Just don’t look too closely at mine!)
Brant is committed to balancing more than finances-his family and work life. The Hougas family lives off of camp grounds which affords them the opportunity to achieve the fine balance of commitment to ministry and family. I know the feeling all too well. For anyone whose vocation is ministry, there is an ever present feeling that ministry is never done. When you are doing ministry, you feel guilty for not being with your family and when you carve out time for family, you can start to feel like you should be doing ministry. I doubt Brant is always free of these same ministry pressures but he and Heather are committed to raising their precious girls in the fear and admonition of the Lord.
Men at Work Project
The goal is to visit the workplace of as many men in the church as possible in order to better understand their world and how they can be encouraged and supported.