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  • Writer's pictureDani Hatfield

Living with Purpose: Les Robbins Honored for Living out his Authentic Calling

“If those buildings could talk, what would they say?” Les Robbins reflects aloud.

Through his 11 years as Volunteer Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Nebraska Lutheran Outdoor Ministries (NLOM), Les has been a part of campaigns for the construction or renovation of more than half of the buildings at Sullivan Hills Camp and Carol Joy Holling Camp, Conference & Retreat Center.

“[The buildings] would talk about the relationships of people that are bonded here by their faith,” he continues. “I look at it like this is a place where you can come, you can be alone. You can be alone with yourself, you can be alone with God.”

“But yet this is a place that you can come and gather. Gather in the spirit of your faith and be together with other people, and just enjoy the togetherness that comes from being in the same kind of faith life.”

Les saw this first-hand through his daughter’s time on summer staff. In fact, that’s how he became connected to NLOM.

“It was heartwarming to hear how she was being transformed herself. You go into this serving others, but then you end up being blessed yourself by doing the work that you’re doing.”

After helping out at a couple of Work Day volunteer events and connecting with Dave Coker, former NLOM Executive Director, through their church, Les received what he feels was a divine invitation.

He recalls with a chuckle, that Dave assured him that he had “the perfect thing for him” and that “it won’t take very much time.”

“To me, I looked at it as a calling from God to say, ‘Help this camp grow, help them stabilize, do what you can.’” Les reflects.

And that’s exactly what has happened in this ministry since 2011.

Les shares that when he started, NLOM had $5 million in net assets and $1.5 million in debt. Today the organization has $15 million in net assets and is completely debt free.

“It’s growing, not because of any special sauce or any financial finagling I did,” he clarifies. “It happened because of the great donor base we have. And just because [we’re debt free], doesn’t mean we stop. The best is ahead for camp. I’m excited about what the future holds for it.”

“There were some bumps in the road,” Les admits. “There were things that happened along the way that I learned a lot from.”

Like a global pandemic.

“We came out of COVID-19 a much better organization. And not many organizations can say that, but I think we came out stronger. We have a strong team; it bonded us together as a team, and we came out financially sound.”

That team recognized Les with the Vocation Award for living out his authentic calling as NLOM’s Volunteer CFO at the tenth annual Heart of Camp Gala on April 1.

Of course, Les shared his gratitude to God, his family, and the organization for the opportunity. “I know that this was a calling. God called—even though Coker called—it was God calling. My faith came alive because I saw the impact that the ministry made on other people, and I got the pleasure of being part of that.”

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