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Wayne Tesch (’69): Serving abused and neglected children through Royal Family Kids Camps

September 26, 2014 | Ian Richardson

When a woman asked Wayne Tesch what his church was doing for the foster children in their county, his first instinct was to put her off.

Tesch was serving as the senior associate pastor at Newport Christian Center in Costa Mesa, California when the member of his congregation approached him. He decided to let her present ideas to a few of the church’s individual Sunday school classes before taking any action himself.

After six weeks, she approached him again. “She came and pointed her finger and said, ‘Wayne Tesch, what are you doing to help the 10,500 children with reported cases of child abuse in Orange County?’” he says.

Still admittedly skeptical, Tesch met with her for a short while and agreed to secure volunteers, raise funds and find a campground if the woman would get approval from the state for the children to attend the Christian camp.

He never thought she could do it. When she proved him wrong, Royal Family Kids Camp was born.

Following Through


Photo courtesy The CAMP Movie LLC/Roebuck Media.)

Read more CAMP — The motion picture that was inspired by true stories from Royal Family Kids Camp. The film premiered in 2013, and played in theaters across the nation.

Full Story

The first weeklong camp for abused and neglected children began in 1985, and it hasn’t slowed down since. In 1990, Tesch stepped down from his pastoral role and founded Royal Family Kids Camps, Inc., a nonprofit ministry that develops camps for abused and neglected children. In the years since, RFK has served more than 95,000 children in 193 camps spread throughout the nation and the world.

“I just followed through with my word,” Tesch says. “When we are called to serve, God will provide. He takes what little we have and multiplies our feeble efforts.”

Since leaving his pastoral role to work with RFK full-time, he and his wife Diane have been working together to turn Royal Family Kids Camp into a worldwide organization. Their mission still continues as the organization strives to reach the more than 400,000 children in the U.S. foster care system, as well as children in the countries of Australia, Namibia, Chile, Kenya and South Africa.

“This ministry is our calling,” Tesch says. “This growth wouldn’t have happened if Diane wasn’t involved in RFK.”

Tesch served as CEO of RFK for 24 years before stepping down in January of 2014. He now serves as CEO at For the Children Foundation, working to raise legacy gifts for the sustainability of RFK.

Preparing Well

While growing up in East Rochester, New York, Tesch felt the call to the ministry early in life. He decided to attend Evangel in 1965 to double-major in Biblical Studies and Physical Education. During his time as a student, he was amazed at the number of students he met from all parts of the country.

“I feel as though I received a worldview of God’s grace and purpose,” Tesch says. “The friends I went to school with are still my friends today.”

Tesch graduated in 1969 and, until 1971, was the religion fellowship instructor and soccer coach at Evangel. He then pursued a graduate degree in Health Science at State University of New York. He later completed a master’s degree in Theological Studies and Church Leadership at Vanguard University in 1995.

Tesch was named Outstanding Alumnus at Evangel University in 2000 and will speak as part of a panel during this year’s homecoming celebration. His advice for students is to work on whatever gifts you have to help God’s kingdom.

“Every student has the ability to develop their gift to bless the world,” Tesch says. “Find people who can assist you in your call. Remember we are like a fine cup of tea. When hardships come—and they will—and your tea cup is turned upside-down. Remember that what is on the inside spills out. Work on the character of Christ in your life.”

Read more about the Alumni Panel event featuring Wayne Tesch at Homecoming 2014