Charlie Gatton may best be known as the program director for CrossTimbers Children’s Mission Adventure Camp, but as a childhood ministry partner for Oklahoma Baptists, he serves other children’s ministries by equipping, training, encouraging and mentoring leaders as he oversees VBS Jumpstart, VBS training, January Update, Community 94, Mission Ignition and other events.
Gatton worked 19 years as an electronics technician before becoming a full-time children’s pastor. A native of Tennessee, he served churches in the Volunteer state before moving to Oklahoma to serve as children’s pastor at Oklahoma City, Southern Hills.
He lived in Knoxville, Kingsport and Lebanon, Tenn., and was saved at age 8 on a Sunday night when his dad was preaching.
“I have no idea what he was preaching about, but it made me realize my sin and my need for a Savior,” Gatton recalled. “I asked Jesus to be the Boss of my life that night. I asked Him to forgive my sins, and I trusted that Jesus could do what He said He could.”
The mission at CrossTimbers (this year’s sessions began May 30 and continue through July 29 at the camp near Davis, and July 8-28 at Grand Lake Baptist Assembly) is to support local church efforts to reach lost children in their communities and to raise up a generation of kids with an authentic walk with God who actively serve others with missional living.
The camp is designed to offer four days of intentional spiritual investment in a child’s life. Day one presents the camp theme, day two emphasizes evangelism, day three gives instruction from the Word and day four sends a challenge to serve Christ daily.
Core values for the camp include learning biblical principles for worship, missions, evangelism and life; creating and strengthening relationships with God, family and others, and experiencing nature in a fun and safe environment.
Throughout each session of camp, there is a high priority on Scripture, worship, relationships with camp staff and church sponsors, and opportunities for kids and sponsors to sharpen their skills and prepare to consistently serve God after camp.
CrossTimbers, designed to reach and equip children by challenging them to know Christ, is supported by Oklahoma Baptists’ gifts through the Cooperative Program.
“Our goal for CrossTimbers this year is to present the Gospel in such a way that kids can clearly hear, understand and respond to it,” Gatton said. “We want to see kids start a personal relationship with Jesus, and those who are already Christians leave with a deeper, more personal relationship with Him.”
Gatton added that CrossTimbers will equip kids and leaders with tools to share the Gospel when they get home.
“And finally, we want to show kids how Oklahoma Baptists take the Gospel across the street and around the world and how they can be involved,” Gatton said.
Gatton and his wife, Ann, have been married for 30 years. They met at church in Knoxville, and are parents of two daughters, Lara and Shelby, both graduates of Oklahoma Baptist University.
Because of the generous giving of Oklahoma Baptists through the Cooperative Program, an amazing array of ministries are supported. This unified giving encourages fellowship with other believers all over the world. Collectively, Oklahoma Baptists are advancing the Gospel together.
Charlie Gatton is featured in the 2022 Missionary Prayer Guide for Oklahoma Baptists. To see more information, visit oklahomabaptists.org/cp.