Above: Todd Sanders speaks to students who publicly responded during an invitation at Falls Creek.
There is a strong possibility, in communities across Oklahoma, one might encounter many people who had an eternally significant experience with Falls Creek Youth Camp.
Falls Creek has been such an important place to Oklahoma Baptists throughout the generations. Churches have descended upon Davis in the summer weeks each year to take advantage of an opportunity to connect students with the Savior. There has always been and continues to be a great need to take advantage of dedicated, focused times to do just that. Camp provides this type of targeted opportunity like few other events.
The majority of believers trust Christ before the age of 18. This is an alarming statistic. Maybe an even more staggering fact, and one which helps frame the weight of responsibility the church has to reach this generation, is the reality that the unreached portion of this current generation of youth (Generation Z) would comprise the largest state in the U.S. by 18 million people (ahead of California) if they were their own state. Anyone can see that the need is great. Time is of the essence. There is a strong, compelling reason for God-led people to act.
There will always be a new, next generation. God’s people must possess a heart and vision for reaching each new generation of youth. God-led people in the church are mindful of taking urgent action to reach this generation. Spirit-led believers engage the next generation with the Gospel and model faithfulness, so that students might also trust Christ and follow the Lord faithfully. This is the heart of making disciples. Oklahoma Baptists continue to accomplish this together through Falls Creek Youth Camp and other important next generation initiatives.
Falls Creek Youth Camp remains a special place for millions. In fact, since its start in 1917, more than 2.5 million people have been a part of Falls Creek Youth Camp, and 1.5 million of those have been full time camp attendees. Those numbers represent lives—souls—and valuable opportunities to advance the Gospel.
God has changed life after life through His Spirit moving through the strong preaching of God’s Word, vibrant worship and rich community year in and year out at camp. One Oklahoma minister’s wife said, “Falls Creek instilled in me a sense of church family and belonging that extended outside my local church body.”
In its 100-year history, more than 72,000 individuals have professed Christ as savior. Falls Creek Youth Camp, since its small beginning in 1917 with 273 participants and 13 spiritual decisions, has seen almost 280,000 spiritual decisions recorded, not including the countless other decisions that have taken place during youth camp weeks. Each of those numbers represents the move of the Holy Spirit, as God’s people have been committed to make disciples and faithfully lead others to the Lord and help them grow in Him. God has changed lives in generation after generation of students in Oklahoma and beyond.
Youth minister Brandon Holloway sees the impact of Falls Creek on his life. “Jesus changed the entire trajectory of my life as a student at Falls Creek,” he said. “Now I get to go every year and watch Him do it over and over again with my own students.”
It really is not surprising that God does significant work in students’ lives at Falls Creek considering the amount of time, energy and focus spent on spiritual things, God’s Word and ongoing application of those eternal truths.
My wife, Angela, explained why Falls Creek has been such an impact on her life. “Maybe because I was able to leave the world behind for a week, I always seemed to hear God most clearly at camp,” she said. “The existence of (Falls Creek) and the fact that so many adults I knew had attended and continued to invest in the effort told me that seeking God with intention was important.”
Another Oklahoma youth minister, Stefan Valdez, has his own story of the Lord changing his life at camp. “Falls Creek is a special place for me,” he said. “I gave my life to Christ the summer heading into my freshman year. It was my first time to experience Falls Creek. I returned home changed and did not miss a summer at Falls Creek after that. Five years later while serving as a sponsor at camp, the Lord called me to ministry! I thank God for Falls Creek. It forever changed my life!”
Stefan is one of more than 37,000 who have surrender their lives to ministry and missions while at Falls Creek. Falls Creek Youth Camp continues its strong history of sending and remains one of the most significant global-sending grounds anywhere, influencing local church ministry and missions literally around the world.
As has been the case throughout its history, youth camp at Falls Creek continues to provide space for students and adults alike to listen for and respond to the Lord’s calling. One Oklahoma Baptist church member said, “It’s where I heard God’s call to ministry and said, ‘Yes.’”
The need for the Gospel among teenagers is strong, and the strong legacy through Falls Creek Youth Camp continues. Oklahoma Baptists maintain a strong partnership as they continue to cooperate to advance the Gospel together among Oklahoma teenagers. We pray the summer of 2022 is no exception.
Visit oklahomabaptists.org/youthcamp for more information on Falls Creek Youth Camp.