Meet a Staff Member: Bill Abeler

bill-goodOn April Fool’s Day of 1986, Bill came “home” to Camp Lebanon, returning to lead the ministry that meant the world to him and his family in his growing up years going back to 1966. Raised in Coon Rapids, MN, Bill graduated from Northwestern College (St. Paul) and then earned his Master of Divinity from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Deerfield, IL). In addition to developing and communicating Camp’s vision, Bill overseas the program ministries for families, men, and senior adults. “Bobber Bill’s” favorite assignments include welcoming summer youth campers, hosting family and senior adult events, and taking kids fishing. Bill is married to Lisa, his best friend and Camp partner. God blessed them with three amazing children: Monte, Marie, and Matthew. Bill’s hobbies start with fishing, teaching Bible to grade schoolers, and organizing other people’s fun. His favorite verse: “How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called ‘children of God’ – and that is what we are!” (I John 3:1)

Bobber Bill answered fifteen get-to-know-you questions:

  1. What’s your favorite color?

Walleye golden brown.

  1. If you could take a trip anywhere, where would you go?

Alaska for a month, but only if Lisa goes with me. I’d love to see this vast American treasure in a boat, on a train, from a plane, and standing on the banks of river with a fishing pole in my hand.

  1. What is your favorite food? Least favorite?

Nothing beats Robin Krien’s wild blueberry pie (though Camp’s oatmeal is a close second!).  I loved most of what I ate in Ukraine, but the banush (made with corn, sour cream, cream, and cheese) just about did in our whole CoMission team.

  1. What do you do for fun when you’re not a camp?

Kayak fishing is my new passion, especially in the company of a good friend.  It’s hard to beat the thrill of being pulled into the reeds by a monster bass!  I can’t wait to float down the Rum River hunting for smallies.

  1. If you ruled the world, what would you change on Day 1?

I would unplug the internet.  Phones would be phones again, life would slow down, and the world would grow back to its proper ginormous size.

  1. What was the last really great book you read?

Though not recommended for bedtime reading, I found The Great Evangelical Recession (John S. Dickerson) to be numbing, stimulating and motivating (in that order!), both in my role as Executive Director and as an active member of Community Covenant Church in Upsala. Dickerson shares six factors that will crash the American church and how to prepare.

  1. Do you volunteer anywhere?

For 21 out of the past 22 years, Lisa and I have had the sheer delight of leading “J TEAM,” a Wednesday night children’s club at our church for 40+ kids grades K-6. It’s the highlight of our week!

  1. Who was the most influential person in your life?

Outside of my amazing wife, a wonderful man named Herb Hazzard most significantly impacted my life.  Not only do I walk the very trail he blazed as Camp Lebanon’s first Director, but I was personally touched by his passion for Christ and evangelism, first as a grade schooler coming to Family Camp and then as a teenage leader, handpicked to be a lifeguard and counselor.

  1. What is one piece of advice you would give others about life?

“Every day is a gift from God.” Enjoy it.  Share it.  Bring God glory with it!

  1. What is the best part of working at Camp?

I am privileged to have a front row seat to behold the work of God in touching lives for eternity.

  1. In your own words, what is your job description?

I am blessed to do three, make that four, special things: (1) Help organize the “funnest fun” for youth, families, and adults; (2) Share the Camp Lebanon story with friends, churches, and donors; (3) Make sure Camp’s mission and message stay grounded in the Word; and (4) Take kids fishing.

  1. Describe an embarrassing moment.

On a cool, overcast day in late May many years ago, I fell out of the boat while fishing with my wife and two good friends in a walleye lake up past Silver Bay. The name of the lake:  Dumbbell!

  1. What is a Bible verse that has meant a lot to you?

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us that we should be called the ‘children of God.’ And that is what we are!”  I John 3:1. By the way, this passage goes great with ice cream!

  1. If you could add one thing (building/event/feature/anything/etc…) to camp and cost wasn’t a factor, what would it be?

It’s time to start drawing up plans for a new multi-purpose gymnasium on the North 40!

  1. What is one of your favorite jokes?

Q: Why does a stork stand on one leg?  A: Because it would fall over if it lifted the other one.

  1. What is one special moment you have experienced at camp?

Just today (September 29) a check came in the mail for $157,528.14. The gift came from the estate of a woman from Kulm ND who had a heart for Camp Lebanon even though she had never been here!  $50,000 is designated for Camp’s Scholarship Endowment. The balance will be used for special projects yet to be determined. Praise God from Whom all blessings flow!

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