HJ/EDApril 17, 2006

Costa Rica Bible camp receives local support

By Kristen Miller
Staff Writer

A Costa Rican Bible camp receives support from area churches and residents.

Dean Jennisen and his family, formerly of Dassel, recently returned from their trip to Camp Penuel in Costa Rica, a Bible camp for disadvantaged Costa Rican children.

The parent camp in Missouri was where founder Pastor Paul Bernhagen, originally of Hutchinson, met his Costa Rican wife, a social worker at the camp.

After marrying, the Bernhagens wanted to move back to Costa Rica and start a family and a sister camp to help disadvantaged children “see the face of God.”

Camp Penuel is named after the Bible verse Genesis 32:30, when Jacob is wrestling with God. It was told whomever sees the face of God will die, but Jacob saw His face and lived.

Soon, his parents John and Letty Bernhagen of Hutchinson became significantly involved with fundraising from the states.

In just a year, more than $300,000 was raised with the help of local churches like Evangelical Covenant Church of Dassel and Our Savior's in Hutchinson where the Jennisens and Bernhagens met.

Evangelical Covenant Church helped by donating soccer balls to the camp; which is the most popular sport in Latin America while others supported with donations and prayers.

The money raised went entirely to the building of Camp Penuel for its opening in January of this year.

The camp is free of charge to all the camp attendees.

The kids stay at the camp for two weeks. While they are there, children have the opportunity to learn about God and experience things they don’t get to do in the city, such as horseback riding and swimming.

The kids come from the inner city of San Jose; Costa Rica’s capital. Without much education and resource the children are even taught the importance of hygiene, according to John and Letty Bernhagen.

“The kids are amazed they get a bed all to themselves since many have to share with their brothers and sisters,” Letty said.

The camp continues to grow and is hoping to raise money for the expansion of the dining hall as well as crop growing for the camp.

Missionaries including Helmuth Woetzel, the Jennisen family and others from all over the US helped get the camp ready for its first group of children.

The camp’s vision is to bring Jesus Christ into the lives of children from “shantytowns” and give them a retreat for worship and recreation.

The Jennisens have supported the mission of Camp Penuel and they wanted to see for themselves how their works were benefiting the camp.

“We got to see how we were making a difference in the lives of the kids,” commented Dean Jennisen.

Now, the family is doing its part by spreading the word about the works of the camp.

Jennisen explained how this trip had been a wonderful opportunity for his two teenage daughters to see the importance of missions not only in foreign lands, but in their own communities.

He also explained how generous local churches have been in supporting mission work locally and far away.

“I’m looking forward to seeing what God’s going to do for Camp Penuel,” he said.

Jennisen’s trip also helped their family realize how much they have. “We have so much compared to these kids,” he said.

To help financially or to sign up for a short-term mission trip check out the web site, www.cp-cr.org for more information.

Or send a tax-deductible check to: Camp Penuel Costa Rica, PO Box 392, Hutchinson, MN 55350

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