7:45 a.m.

“Why do we do what we do?   Why is it important to pay attention to program details and program presentation? What happens when we function with program purpose?   How does our program action translate into ministry action?   What is required within us to enable the transition to take place? Reflect on your best ministry moments of the summer….How were they made real?”

These questions by Bill Black to our summer staff were part of an early morning staff meeting.   “Bill questions” are common at all hours and have the goal of moving us from good to great. The staff were to pray, reflect, and respond in writing.


9:00 a.m.

“We’re so glad you chose us to be part of your staff experience.” This statement was made by a friend whose business is hosting us for a staff dinner at the end of the summer.



“Being the owner of Imagination Mountain Camp-Resort, we are glad to work with Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries. Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries has brought the Holy Spirit to our resort for 12 years. To have a ministry in a campground resort is amazing. God bless Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries.” Dave Landry



“Jesus gave Peter a do-over.” Heard by Bill as he visited children’s day camps.

The mission team was leading a day camp in Adventure Bound campground. The Bible study teacher was telling the story of Jesus relating to his disciples after his resurrection —the story of Jesus and the miraculous catch of fish (John 21: 1-18)   The children acted out the story as they casts their reels on one side of the boat and then the other and caught fish.   They called out loud and pretended to be Peter jumping in the lake and swimming to shore.   They listened and learned about forgiveness and commission from Jesus as he reinstated Peter. They listed examples of their parents giving them second chances.

Jesus gave Peter a do-over!



“Our cry from planning to fulfillment (of our mission trip) is that the hand of the Lord shows our way and that we follow. We ask him to grow our relationship with him and make us stronger than we were before in our relationship with him and one another.”   Christy Bailey, mission group leader of Milan Baptist Church

Bill and Christy were visiting in Greenbrier Campground as Milan Baptist Church ended its week of mission with us.   Christy shared the way they had seen God at work in lives of children and adults in the campgrounds all week.   Then she shared

the heart of commitment in the team.



“I pray for you every day—that God gives you wisdom and words in all that you are dealing with.”

Bill to the mayor of Gatlinburg—when they met at the gas station


12:40 p.m.

“Yes, I took time to eat a good lunch.”

Bill to Aranda (summer missionary) as he arrived at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair and as she expressed care for his health.



“We love Gatlinburg. We love the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair. We love Tracey (the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair owner). We knew this would be a hard show in terms of numbers of people in town, but we came because of our love.   All we want to do is make expenses. We want to do what we can to help. Being here is what we can do.”

Two crafters –representing two different booths– in the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair were talking to Bill about the fire and its impact on Gatlinburg.   This was their heart and their hope.



“Lord, may the love stress he is feeling as he cares for his family not hurt his body for he is your wonderful servant.”

Bill’s prayer with a friend at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair.



“How long has Smoky Mountain Resort Ministries been helping at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair? 34 years? I couldn’t imagine you not being here!”   Tracey Li, owner



“We have more bird houses.   Change back to painting bird houses (from painting animal masks)!”

Bill to our staff at the children’s craft booth at the Gatlinburg Craftsmen’s Fair where in one day children paint about 80 bird houses, make about 120 sand art crosses, and receive animal and art balloons of all makes!



“Bill, I need your help. My car is broken on the road.”

Bill’s first response: “Sorry, wrong number.”   Bill’s second response: “I will pray.”

Bill’s third response: “Okay, how can I help?”



“How do we pray for God to keep you here?”

Bill to Linda Johnson at dinner



“Oh my goodness! I have so many friends here!”

Linda Johnson when several of her worship and Bible study friends from Greenbrier Campground come by our table at the Park Grill.



“Will you host our international dinner next Monday night with food from one of your restaurants?” Bill.   “Be glad to!” Jim.



“Jim (a different Jim from the one above), I have been blessed to see you three times this week.   And now tonight here in the Park Grill! I know you are moving to Atlanta on Sunday to be with your family. You have brought goodness to this town and to me.   I pray God grants you peace in all this change. And know you are one of the great ones.   You are loved here.”

Bill to Jim Gerding, who lost his home in the fires and whose beautiful wife died in April, and who stands as an example of the best of Gatlinburg, Tennessee.



Thanks be to God!