Forty-five years ago, I made the trip from Skiatook to the Arbuckle Mountains to attend Falls Creek. Our group was made up of probably about 35 or 40 teens and sponsors. Mrs. Miller was our cook. Bro. James was our pastor, and he served (like many small church pastors still do today) as the lead sponsor. I distinctly remember having a girlfriend at the time, but I could not escape the beauty of the little Osage princess who was along that week. (It took me another year or two to catch her attention, but 42 years ago this month we walked down the aisle together.)
Our cabin was the Hominy Hut. It was a wonderful place! It had screened windows with wooden flaps on the sides that had to be raised for ventilation. One memory I would like to forget was the path out back that led to the outhouses. We were uptown! Actually, we were like almost everyone else. I guarantee you one thing—we ate as well as anyone in the camp that week.
I was a musician and played in the band. Kurt Kaiser led the music and used trumpets and trombones with the choir. It was a phenomenal, not-to-be-forgotten experience for a Skiatook boy to be onstage in front of thousands of other teens.
Our last service that week was on Saturday morning. I had wrestled all week with a sense of God’s call on my life. My grandfather was a pastor, and my family was very involved in church. I knew God called people to ministry, and from the earliest age had felt the hand of God on my life. I do not remember the preacher, but I do remember the voice of the Holy Spirit speaking louder than a trumpet blast. I was seated at the front on the west side of the old tabernacle, and it was a short walk to the altar. There I surrendered to the call of God, like thousands before me and thousands more after.
My experience at Falls Creek is not unique. Many of you can go back to your experiences. Some of you slept under tarps and cooked on an open fire. Some stayed two weeks. Countless numbers of you were saved, called to preach, and many met your spouse on this holy ground—life-changing experiences that have impacted you from that day ‘til now.
But Falls Creek is not just about precious memories or events of the past. It is a living, vibrant place where God chooses to touch lives year in and year out. Summer 2010 is no different. In fact, we have had a remarkable start with hundreds already responding to the call of God’s grace and finding salvation in Christ. And many, just as I did long ago, have made public declarations of God’s call on their lives for missions and ministry.
In our noisy and fast-paced world, it is no small thing for young people to spend a week away from the constant bombardment of worldly stuff. Even more unusual is the opportunity to be confronted day and night with the claims of the Gospel. Falls Creek is much more than a place—it is an experience. It is the opportunity for young people to hear God’s voice and respond.
The cabins are nicer—they do have indoor plumbing these days! It’s not necessary to raise the flaps on the windows for air because we now have air conditioning. The tabernacle is cool, and the sights and sounds are awesome. Trumpets and trombones have been replaced with a keyboard, guitars and drums. Even with all these transformations, one thing has never changed. Hungry souls are touched by the hand of God, and lives are changed for eternity.
Oklahoma Baptists, your investment across the years and in more recent times is not in vain. No, indeed, it is worth every penny we have spent and will spend. It is God’s gift to us and the world. Rejoice! Another summer has begun, and God is moving mightily among those who attend Falls Creek.
Anthony L. Jordan is executive director-treasurer of the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma.