“Powerful prayer, strong preaching, effective multimedia storytelling and the faithfulness of God led to the Lord blessing the eight weeks of youth encampments in a mighty way this summer at Falls Creek Baptist Conference Center,” said Andy Harrison, Falls Creek Program Director and Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma (BGCO) student ministry group leader and specialist.
Youth camps’ total registration this year was 53,290, compared to 51,100 last year, and was the fifth-highest total on record, behind 57,541 in 2011, 54,990 in 2008, 54,496 in 2007 and 53,937 in 2010.
The summer ended with 6,623 decisions (2,339 professions of faith and 1,135 called to ministry/missions) compared to 6,248 (2,149 professions of faith and 723 called to ministry/missions) last year.
“To put the decision numbers in historical perspective, it is the second-largest number of total decisions, second largest number of calls to ministry/missions, and the fourth largest number of professions of faith,” said James Swain, BGCO Conference Centers Director.
The highest number of decisions ever recorded were 7,600 in 2007, while the highest number of professions of faith (2,469) was seen in 2012.
“I am absolutely awed by God’s presence at Falls Creek this year,” said Alan Quigley, leader of the BGCO Church Outreach Team. “I thank God for all the amazing staff; every one of them! James (Swain) and Andy (Harrison), along with each one of those who poured their life out for the Lord. . . .”
“My heart overflows with joy because of the exceptional summer at Falls Creek,” said Anthony L. Jordan, BGCO executive director-treasurer. “It is one of the most responsive years, in terms of decisions and attendance, in our 100-year history. I want to thank our churches for their commitment to Falls Creek and bringing youth who need a relationship with Christ, who need the Gospel. The sponsors were wonderful, as were the staff, who provide the very best in facilities and programming.”
“It was an exceptional summer,” said Harrison, who credited prayer and camp preachers for a strong camp this year.
“I thought that we had one of the strongest preaching summers we have ever had,” he said. “I don’t always get to hear everyone as much as I would like to because of my schedule, but I heard more preaching than normal this year, and the preaching lineup was extremely strong.
“But, I really think the strength of Falls Creek and the decisions that result is the prayer that goes on before camp even starts; the churches that are praying for months in advance for the students who are to come. God answers the prayers of His people, and I think that’s the strength of Falls Creek.”
Programming plays a huge part, too, of course, and for the third year in succession, Falls Creek used a film to carry through on the camp theme, which was “Drive,” based on 2 Cor. 5:14-15 this year.
“We talked about how the love of Christ compels, drives or controls us,” Harrison explained.
“This year’s film was about a guy who owned an automobile restoration and repair shop. It used the imagery of restoring cars to teach lessons about how we are restored as people, and once we are restored, we become restorers. It was very well received. They loved the film.
“It was kind of like Jesus teaching a parable. An everyday story related to teach a deep spiritual truth.”
The youth weeks’ offering was unexpectedly good this year, too, Harrison said.
“The offering was way beyond what we ever expected,” he commented, adding, “We had never challenged the students to give before. We had always told them what the offering was for, but never really challenged them to meet a goal. This year, Nick Atyia, student evangelism & missions specialist, suggested we do something called My 5. We challenged everyone to give $5 when the offering was taken up on Thursday nights.”
The offering total amounted to $128,678.04.
The My5 offering was designed to benefit two areas: $2 from each $5 given will go to the International Mission Board (IMB) One Life Project, which, in 2015, will support orphans in East Asia, and $3 from each $5 donated will go to support GO (Global Oklahoma) Student mission trips in 2015 to Colorado, the Pacific Northwest, Spain and East Asia in June and July. Broken down, the One Life project will receive $51,471.22, and GO Students will receive $77,206.82.
“The offering was almost double the offering we received last year. That’s pretty cool,” Harrison said.
New things were added to Falls Creek this summer to help make it fresh, while still keeping the main thing—sharing the Gospel of Christ—the main thing.
“I think the fact that each year we are creating new venues for different types of students continually has helped,” Harrison said. “We had breakouts that we didn’t have in previous years. We had the art project for artistic students to interpret our theme, and Falls Creek Live to give kids a chance to present a musical performance before an audience in the amphitheater.”
Breakout topics included leadership, dealing with addiction, personal evangelism, leading worship, new believers and call to ministry.
“There were all kinds of activities on campus that offered kids a chance to enjoy camp other than just playing volleyball,” Harrison concluded.
Other new additions included kickball as part of the afternoon recreation choices, and the immensely popular Quad Zip Lines at the Baptist Lake area.