I have a very unique bird’s-eye view of Falls Creek. My apartment looks out over the main street toward the R.A. Young Tabernacle, allowing me to see the constant flow of people at the center of the camp. This morning, as I look out from my window, my thoughts are of the sights and sounds of Falls Creek.
The stir around the tabernacle starts very early when you consider the people involved are teenagers. Every morning at 6:30, a significant number of campers move toward the tabernacle for an opening devotional time. This is not a required event, but many take advantage of this special time at the beginning of the day.
I love Wednesday mornings. This is the time for the Falls Creek 5K, which is no easy run or walk. It is such fun watching the kaleidoscope of brightly colored t-shirts and glaring colors of running shoes. It is also fun to see many sponsors joining the kids on the run. OK, so most of the sponsors are wogging (my term for a cross between walking and jogging practiced by old people). I would run with them, but to have a 64-year-old leave them in the dust would be hard on them! NOT!
Added to the brilliant colors being worn is the increasing color hues of skin. I could not be more pleased that Falls Creek is becoming more and more multi-ethnic, which reflects the growing diversity in the churches. This multi-ethnicity makes my heart rejoice as much as anything.
The gathering place each night after service is the Icee stands. Would you believe more than 10,000 Icees are sold each week? The gathering around the Icee stands and the main plaza area looks like an ocean of teenagers. I love watching them interact, meeting new friends, and in general, having a good time hanging out with one another in this city of teens.
At the same time, many of the teens find their way to Wynn Mission Center to explore the options available for mission opportunities next summer. Some of the young people who sit in the tabernacle this year will be in Paris, East Asia, Colorado and many other places across the globe next summer serving through GoStudents and World Changers.
By far, my favorite sights at Falls Creek come in the evenings at the tabernacle. If you have never attended a Falls Creek service with more than 5,000 teens, I doubt I can explain the event. A Falls Creek worship service is one of the most dynamic and spiritually charged times of worship ever. The engagement in worship is a sight to behold. With heads and hands lifted toward Heaven, campers’ voices give praise to their God and His Son, Jesus Christ.
No sight this side of Heaven can compare to the moment of decision. To experience hundreds responding to the call for repentance and faith is a rare occurrence today. For those of us who lived during the revivalistic era and have seen Billy Graham Crusades, the decision time is a beautiful moment. Indeed, this is the moment to which all other moments point. As the invitation is given, without manipulation or pressure, teens are invited to embrace the Gospel. As the band begins to play, the movement forward begins. Some individuals walk the aisle alone, but to see friends walking together as one brings the other to take care of business with the Savior is a beautiful sight.
I have a special place I usually sit during tabernacle services that allows me to see everything happening. As individuals move forward during the invitation, I find myself near tears every time, and that never gets old. It is rewarding to watch as the tabernacle empties and, in the front seats, trained counselors sit with those who have come forward and guide them in spiritual commitments to Christ.
By far, my favorite sound at Falls Creek is the ringing of Big Bertha. Each morning, Big Bertha is rung one time for each salvation the night before. May the clapper wear out!
There is nothing like Falls Creek on Earth. I would give a thousand lifetimes to Falls Creek. No place on Earth has more impact for the Kingdom. And to think—God gave this special place to Oklahoma Baptists. What a blessing! What a responsibility!