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Falls Creek focused to finish: Youth camp begins its 101st summer

DAVIS—After weeks of preparation and prayer for the youth weeks of Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center, campers, staff and all involved in camp hit the ground running for the first week of camp June 4-8.

/// Summer staff members share Christ
Keith Burkhart, in his inaugural summer as Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) Conference Centers director, spoke about the preparation that goes into the eight, jam-packed weeks of fun saying, “What I’ve been most pleased about is the quality of people that are a part of our summer and full-time Falls Creek staff. They are working hard, long hours to create the right kind of environment, where there is a healthy culture, where everyone can hear the Gospel and grow in their relationship with Christ.”
As in past summers, Falls Creek staff are encouraged to engage in Gospel conversations with campers through personal evangelism training they received in the weeks leading up to camp.
Already, Burkhart said staff members have seen fruit produced for their boldness in sharing their faith by campers making professions of faith in Christ through Gospel conversations with staff members.
“There are two things we want to accomplish with the staff. We want to develop quality leaders who will see whatever career path they choose as their mission work, and I want them to use the time they serve at Falls Creek as an anchor to see how God uses them, so they can apply that to wherever they go in life,” Burkhart said.

H.B. Charles delivers the message Tuesday evening of Week One in the R. A. Young tabernacle.
(Photo: Emily Howsden)

/// H.B. Charles charges students to put on their yokes

H.B. Charles Jr., pastor of Jacksonville, Fla., Shiloh was the speaker for the first week of camp. The Nick Thurmond band opened the evening service with worship before Charles took the stage. On Tuesday evening, Charles taught from Matt. 11:28-29, which says, “Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.”

His first point of application to campers was, “Accept the invitation Jesus gives you,” saying, “before you follow Him, you must come to Him.”

Charles spoke about a call and condition for those who labor and are heavy laden, which brought Charles to his second point, “Obey the duty Jesus commands.” He said that there is rest through salvation, citing verse 28, and rest through submissions, citing verse 29.

Charles elaborated upon the true meaning of resting in Jesus Christ.
“Rest is bondage to the purpose for which you were created. No soul is free when you live outside the purpose for which God has created you,” Charles said.

His last point for the Tuesday evening tabernacle service was, “Embrace the benefits Jesus offers.” Charles talked about how Jesus described his own character condition, in verse 29 saying, “…because I am gentle and humble in heart.”

Charles then defined meekness, or humility, as “strength under control for the benefit of Jesus.”

Students can go to the mission center and learn about global missions each day during free time and each evening after the evening worship service.
(Photo: Emily Howsden)

/// New to Falls Creek

As always, Falls Creek will have many mission-minded features at camp this summer. Through the Mission Center, Mission Village and Go-Mobile, students in the first week of camp learned about global missions.

Todd Sanders, BGCO student education specialist, shared about the evolution of missions at Falls Creek. “We started focusing on GoStudents trips prior to 2009 at Falls Creek,” he said, “and it has grown from a secret church experience and one location hut to 13 different projects and a hut for each mission project here at Falls Creek.”

The Missions Center and Missions Village have become focal points in the summer youth weeks at Falls Creek. “We pray for the nations there and talk to students about the possibility of going on trips with an evangelism emphasis,” Sanders said.

Two evangelism training tools that are taught at Falls Creek, to campers and summer staff alike: the “One Great Hope” Gospel conversation and the “GOODNEWS” conversation.

There are also Bible treks to help students increase their engagement with Scripture and, “really ignite a love of God’s word in students,” Sanders said.

Falls Creek and the Museum of the Bible, founded by the Green family of Oklahoma, have partnered this summer to provide students with a history and impact of the Bible display. Sanders says the Museum of the Bible will focus on the history and impact part of the display, while Falls Creek staff focuses on the narrative tools of the display.

First, second and third place winners of the Week One 5K race.
(Photo: Emily Howsden)

“This Museum of the Bible display is a great opportunity to highlight Scripture and engage students in understanding that Scripture is relevant, impactful and meaningful,” Sanders said.

/// Great expectations

As the first youth week closed, Sanders, Burkhart and all Falls Creek staff are expectant of all the Lord will do on the hallowed campground throughout its 101st year as a place of retreat for Oklahoma Baptists.

Sanders said, “For us, it is all worth it when we start to have those Gospel conversations. For our staffers, the minute they had the first opportunity, they were able to share the Gospel and about their life and what the Lord wants to do with them. It is great to see it come to fruition, and they see the benefit of all the hard work put into camp preparation.”

Emily Howsden

Author: Emily Howsden

Emily Howsden is a staff writer for the Baptist Messenger.

View more articles by Emily Howsden.

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