Manny Williams: Building Bridges

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God knew what He was doing when He sent Emmanuel Williams, also known as Manny, back to Kids Across America. Manny already had been exposed to kamp for seven years: three years at KAA 1, three years at KAA 2, and one year at Higher Ground, a leadership training kamp. However, he felt the Lord banging on the door of his heart to return to kamp. When Manny envisioned his future, he never thought ministry lay at the end of the corridors of time. Nonetheless, as time unraveled, the Master Builder constructed a young man for ministry. In the beginning of summer 2018,  Manny’s plans were a as shaky as an earthquake, but by the end of the summer, he rested on a solid foundation. He was hired as the Bridges Outreach programs director. Manny was built, constructed, and developed for the position.  Along with other things in Manny’s life, KAA become a part of  his process.

This summer, Manny was hired as a counselor. Going above and beyond the job description, he shepherded counselors by making an effort to visit  each cabin and pray for his fellow cabin mates. When it came to disciplining young men, he made a beeline to Biblical Manhood and the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Manny was a fireball; a fire that could not be extinguished.  Dancing in the dining hall, getting hype in football specialty with the kids, and stirring up the pot during the hype session, his fire needed no advertising. Everyone gathered around to watch him burn. It was a contagious, rampant epidemic. By the end of the first term, all the guy counselors voted  him to win the I’m Third Award, a brass plaque given to kampers and staffers who have shown noble, valiant character in their words, actions, and deeds. During the first term staff party, Manny was fortunate to win it. 

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The middle of summer, an opportunity presented itself to for Manny to be on the leadership team. He became the Athletic Director. Manny was both surprised and humbled at the fortuity. Could he handle it? Was he ready? With each doubt that popped up in his mind, the peace of God was able to tackle each objection his brain threw out. A good God reassuring him. On Leadership, Manny realized that he was more behind the scenes. He was no longer on the center stage as a counselor but was now the stage manager that positioned the actors. Each day was show time!  It was demanding work from waking up for early morning meetings and going to bed late, from creating elaborate schedules to making sure storage sheds were in order, enlightening kids through discipline, and verbalizing truth at K-Life and Church.  Manny--a kamper, a counselor and now  an Athletic Director on leadership--had discovered a new love for kamp in a different position.

Meanwhile, a church in Kokomo, Indiana, was looking for a programs director. For years they were strictly looking for a KAA guy to fill the position. Avery Blue, the former director of KAA 2 and now the Regional Director for Development, suggested the position. Manny fit the bill.The position was a complete act of God, the profession that Manny fills today at Bridges is what he is called to do in life. Constructing relationships with kids and passionately sharing the gospel is what Manny was designed to do. Now he is more himself than ever before. Manny’s life has become a bridge that connects defected people to a good God. Building a life is a process. As any good engineer will admit, architecture takes planning and vision. The builder must cast a perfect vision that will identically match the blueprints. Through strategic planning, the result is a beautiful building that reflects the creator’s acumen, sublimity, and artisanship. Building a skyscraper is a slow process, but building a life is a process within itself.  The Master Architecture knew what He was doing when He called Manny back to Kids Across America. Those years at kamp had become part of Manny’s process. A good God is using a little patch of land in southwest Missouri and a bunch of young people to make Himself known to generations-- and Manny was one of them. 

Chris Dillon

Kids Across America, 2036 Lake Shore Drive, Branson, MO, 65616