Paul Maxey, pastor of Tuskegee Church in Muscogee-Seminole-Wichita Association, leads a conference on the MY316 witnessing tool at Indian Falls Creek. (PHOTO: DANA WILLIAMSON)

DAVIS—When people hear the words Indian Falls Creek, their minds most likely turn to visions of a camp of Native Americans worshipping and attending classes on the Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center grounds, and perhaps singing in their native tongues.

And, to be sure, that is part of Indian Falls Creek, but it is so much more. IFC is a family camp, and those families come from across the United States and Canada. There are classes and activities for preschoolers, children, youth and adults.

The camp is operated by a 52-member board of directors, which meets monthly to plan the annual event. Victor Cope, pastor of Moore, Indian, serves as executive director of the camp, and Bill Barnett, pastor of Indian Nations Church in South Canadian Association and former vice president of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, is board chairperson. The camp hosts between 25-40 tribes and more than 250 church groups, as well as non-Native people, and may well be the largest Native Christian encampment in North America.

Among activities at the five-day camp are Vacation Bible School, adult Bible classes, adult skills conferences, children’s church, youth and young adult programs, sunrise services, a blood and bone marrow drive, a health fair, Bible drill, Little Olympics, talent show, craft time, a Hot and Sweaty Fun Run and Walk, women’s rally and recreation, including volleyball, kickball, dodgeball, mushball, basketball, softball, swimming and horseshoes.

Not only do people come from across the nation to enjoy the benefits of the camp, they also come to work.
Daniel and Linda Davis have been coming to Indian Falls Creek from Moundville, Ala. since 1988.

“We always wanted to go on a mission trip, so we contacted the North American Mission Board, and received a list of mission opportunities,” said Linda Davis. “And we chose Oklahoma.”

The first year the couple came to the state, they worked at Bill Barnett’s church. He told them about opportunities at Indian Falls Creek, so the next year, that’s where they landed.

Annette Choate, an RN with the Choctaw Nation, tests the blood sugar of Rotha Adams, a member of Thessolonian Church in Red Oak, during the health fair. (PHOTO: DANA WILLIAMSON)

“We were overwhelmed,” said Linda. “We were given a Bible and told to teach teenagers. We had to change our whole was of thinking about teaching because we were outdoors in a pavilion by a creek, competing with yellow jackets, wind and heat.”

Since that first year, the Davises have been involved in Vacation Bible School. This year, they brought about 40 people with them to help, and worked indoors at the Massey Chapel in the tabernacle.

David Saunooke and his wife, Terri, were at IFC for the 14th year this summer, also working in Vacation Bible School.

Saunooke said he first heard of Indian Falls Creek when Barnett came to California to help with a Native American camp.

“He brought a group from Alabama with him, and that’s when we decided to come to Oklahoma to help out here,” said Saunooke, who works with UPS and is a member of Crescent Church in Anaheim, Calif. “It’s a wonderful experience, and we believe God has put this camp in our hearts knowing we can be role models.”

The Saunooke’s brought 14 from their church this year.

One thing Indian Falls Creek has kept as a tradition is the evening worship service. This year’s preacher was Rob Zinn, pastor the 7,000-member Immanuel Church in Highland, Calif., which has led California Baptists in baptisms and missions giving for several years.

Preaching from Luke 23:34, Zinn said it was providential that Jesus was crucified between two criminals.

“Both had access to our Lord Jesus Christ, but only one took advantage of that, and because of his repenting, he was with Jesus in paradise that very day,” said Zinn.

He said the three crosses represent one man dying for sin, one man dying to sin and one man dying in sin.

“There is the cross of redemption where Jesus fulfilled the law and manifested love,” Zinn reported. “Somebody must satisfy the debt of sin, demanded by a Holy God. God knew no one could pay the debt but His sinless, sacrificial Son.”

Then there is the cross of rejection.

“Satan is the ring leader of all those going to Hell,” said Zinn. “This criminal wanted Christ without the cross. No one wants to go Hell; they just don’t’ want to go to Heaven if they have to obey the rules. He died and went to Hell, and his remedy was right next to him.”

The third cross represents repentance, Zinn said.

“It took courage for this criminal to say what he did. He agreed with God. One man died in pain, and one died in peace.”

Zinn said it is hard for most people to wrap their minds around the concept of grace.

“We are saved by the grace of God and nothing else,” emphasized Zinn. “We are not saved by good works; we are saved for good works. There is only one Heaven, one God, one Savior and one way to God’s Heaven.”

Zinn said we have been so indoctrinated by Burger King that we think we can “have it our way.”
“There’s no multiple choice to get to Heaven,” he said.

He said people want to add something to grace, such as works, baptism, tithing, church attendance.

“I kind of like the one about tithing,” he said, “but the fact is, you are saved by grace and nothing else.”

This year’s camp, Aug. 2-6, was attended by 1,985, with 120 professions of faith, 15 giving their lives for special service/missions, with a total of 249 decisions.